1900 is a symbolic turning point that marks the transition between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries or, in literary terms, between the fin de siècle and the age of modernism and the avant gardes. In this period an increase in cross-national literary traffic coincides with redefinitions of concepts of nationhood and political and economic power, both within Europe and on a global scale. Writing 1900 was set up to investigate the shifting forms of literary culture in this age of transition from a cross-disciplinary and transnational perspective. We are interested in debating what happens to specific authors, works, publication media and literary currents when they migrate across borders and languages. We look for ways to read literature outside and against the paradigm of the ‘national’, which has been so dominant in acts of canonisation and literary histories. Can literature exist at the cross-roads of different national cultures? How are texts affected by patterns of cultural migration and exchange? What roles do institutions (universities, museums, academies, publishers, congresses) play in the process of literary cultural exchange? How do we account for the work of figures such critics, translators and travellers, who straddle multiple literatures and languages, and who have often been excluded from nationally-defined histories? These questions are particularly timely in our own age of globalised culture, when traditional models of comparative literary studies no longer offer scholars adequate cognitive and methodological tools.
Writing1900 started in 2010 as a collaboration between Oxford University and the Centre for British Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Since then it has held regular meetings and conferences, generating publications and participating in events such as the Annual Meeting of the Comparative Literature Association in Utrecht (2017). It is led by Philip Ross Bullock (Oxford), Stefano Evangelista (Oxford) and Gesa Stedman (Berlin).