Christina Kullberg

Christina Kullberg

Coordinator Vernaculars

Professor, French and Francophone Literatures

Uppsala University

ORCID: 0000-0001-8173-5153

Christina Kullberg is professor of French, especially Francophone Literatures, at Uppsala University.

Kullberg contributes with two projects in the program. First, she offers a theorization of the concept of the vernacular within world literatures. Thinking through the various ways world literature has been conceptualized in terms of a cosmopolitan literature or a literature that travels widely by means of circulation and translation, her research investigates the ways in which the vernacular participates productively in the making of world literatures. Seeing the vernacular not only in terms of language but also in terms of sensitivities and cultural expressions, she argues for a new understanding of the vernacular as an operative concept and a praxis.

Her second research project is linked to the first and problematizes the role of ecocriticism within world literature by means of the vernacular. More precisely, it analyzes contemporary poetry from the Lesser Antilles engaging with natural disasters: Celia A Sorhaindo’s Guabancex (2020) published with Papillote Press, based in Dominica; Lasana M. Sekou’s Hurricane Protocol (2019) published with House of Nehesi Publishers, based in St. Martin, and Richard Georges’s Epiphaneia (2019) published with a London-based independent publisher, Outspoken Press. By looking at these poets from the perspective of the vernacular, the chapter rethinks ecocritical writing as world literature not by virtue of its world literary themes, international circulation or propagation of new global visions, but by the actualization of a certain vernacular sensibility. I claim that what we currently witness on the Caribbean poetry scene is not the emergence of a new “disaster genre” that could easily be incorporated into a sub-category of world literature. Instead, it should be read in terms of vernacular responses to devastating natural forces carried by sound, noise, and rhythm, and as such should be read as part of a Caribbean continuum. Drawing on Kamau Brathwaite’s notion of “nation language” and Édouard Glissant’s concept “forced poetics”, I argue that it is through such vernacular soundings that the poetry of Sorhaindo, Georges, and Sekou resonates across the world.

A third tentative project concerns reading Martinican poet and theorist Édouard Glissant as a world literary theorist and writer. Glissant has conceptualized notions of globalization, plurilingualism, and relationality, yet his discussion seems to have played out in parallel with theories of world literature with only a few conjectures. Considering that he is internationally acknowledged and translated widely, Glissant can at the same time be labeled a world literary writer. How can he be situated in the field of world literature? This seemingly straightforward question hides challenging problems such as the conjectures between different (competing) national language traditions within the field or between literature and other aesthetic disciplines.

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