The Institute for Contemporary and Comparative Literature (ICCL) was established in 2010 to act as a research hub for a growing cluster of staff in the School of Modern Languages with an interest in ‘the contemporary’ and / or comparative literature. ICCL thus, in effect, represents colleagues working in two distinct areas, a fact which may be reflected in seminar series (e.g. ‘Stateless Literatures’ a comparative project) or conferences (‘What is the Contemporary?’) dedicated to one or the other field. ‘The contemporary’ and ‘comparative literature’ do, however, have things in common: research in both often requires a transnational, interdisciplinary (and often intermedial) approach; both are, we might say, highly temporally and culturally sensitive, inviting frequent redefinition; both invite reflection upon practice (how best to teach – or choose – a ‘very contemporary’ text? how best to teach comparative literature to a mixed cohort of students, only some of whom have a second language?). Research and postgraduate programmes hosted by ICCL reflect upon all of these issues as we seek to (re)define comparative literature in terms of a twenty-first century contemporary and to (re)define the contemporary beyond the confines of national language departments.
Focus on ‘the contemporary’ (as period, construct, concept?) will be particularly important for the next three years thanks to the work of the Leverhulme Network for Contemporary Studies: P.I. Margaret-Anne Hutton; partners Ravi Sundaram (CSDS, Delhi), Lionel Ruffel (Paris 8), Johhny Rodger (Glasgow School of Art) and Bertrand Gervais (Univ. of Quebec at Montreal). Leverhulme International Network for Contemporary Studies