Faculty Publication: The Vanishing Point of World Literature

Travis Landry, Associate Professor of Spanish, has published the article “The Vanishing Point of World Literature” in the Journal of World Literature. The online version appeared on February 9, 2021 and the print issue is forthcoming. 


In the field of world literature, questions about the temporal versus spatial nature of worlding persist. One reason is the problematic nature of this dichotomy. Taking up Pheng Cheah’s calls for the temporal worlding of indeterminate becoming, my paper complicates the fate of spatiality in this move toward ontological open-endedness. With discussion of the vanishing point, I postulate that imaginative distancing in its relation to memory involves a spatialization that need not be circumscribed by global flattening of the humanist ethos central to the worldliness of world literature. In response to the connection Cheah draws between literature and worldliness, I claim that the latter is characterized by a spatiotemporal elasticity born from the proliferation of meaning in the former. At the extreme, this movement gestures toward the infinite held by the vanishing point, and there, indeterminacy appears absurdly paradoxical in our search for world value, as consciousness loses itself in the repeated and necessary attempt to transcend distance that cannot be measured.

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