Words in the World

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From February 7 to February 9, 2013, hundreds of students, faculty members, and individuals from the general public attended the WORDS IN THE WORLD: LITERATURES, ORATURES, AND NEW MEETING GROUNDS symposium at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Featured speakers included Albert Wendt, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Kimo Keaulana, Hosam Aboul-Ela, Francesca Orsini, Chantal Spitz, and Daniel Justice. All events were free and open to the public.

This symposium had its impetus in the movement within literary, cultural, and performance circles to reconceptualize the field of “world literature.” Working from a location in Hawaiʻi and Oceania, the symposium pursued an alternative vision of “words in the world” that foregrounds perspectives and cultural forms from around the world that the field of “world literature” previously peripheralized. A central theme was the need for the literatures and oratures of the world to engage indigenous aesthetic and ethical traditions of speaking from and for particular places, while developing lines of connection and affiliation among disparate communities of writers and scholars. Toward this end the symposium brought together literary critics, performance artists, and cultural practitioners—from Hawaiʻi, Oceania, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East—to discuss the situations of literatures and oratures both in relation to the earth and to each other.

A practical outcome of the symposium is a contribution to the archive of methods and pedagogical resources that study the worldliness of literature, including strategies for a new comparativism, along with reading practices elaborated from within emerging networks of literary and cultural production.

Collected below are descriptions of symposium’s panels along with links to available videos, which are available to be streamed and downloaded for free via ScholarSpace.

Symposium Committee: Cristina Bacchilega, Vilsoni Hereniko, kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui, Paul Lyons, Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio, Tino Ramirez, S. Shankar; Student Coordinator: Anjoli Roy

Thursday, February 7
at the Art Auditorium

Introduction to Symposium: S. Shankar

Albert Wendt & Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o: Reading and Conversation
Moderator: Cristina Bacchilega
  1. Albert Wendt reads selections from his literary work.
  2. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o reads selections from his literary work.
  3. Albert Wendt and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o engage in a conversation on the overarching themes of the symposium.
Screening and Discussion of Drua: The Wave of Fire
This film celebrates voyaging on double-hulled canoes in the 18th Century, their demise upon contact with Europeans, and their revival in recent years.
  1. Screening of Drua.
  2. Kara Miller responds to the film, then Kara Miller and Director Vilsoni Hereniko respond to audience Q&A.

Friday, February 8
at the Hālau o Haumea, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies

Mele Panel and Performance
Moderator: kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui
Panelists: Kale Hannahs, Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Kimo Keaulana, Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio
With a focus on mele Hawaiʻi, the indigenous music of Hawaiʻi, this panel engaged with the intersection between orature and literature, as represented by the poetry of song and chant, and performance.
  1. Introduction by kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui.
  2. Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele presents.
  3. Kimo Keaulana presents.
  4. Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio presents.
  5. Kale Hannahs presents.
  6. Mele Panel and Performance Q&A.
Literatures of the World
Moderator: Paul Lyons
Panelists: Hosam Aboul-Ela, Francesca Orsini, Ruth Mabanglo, Craig Santos Perez
This panel will engage from different locations the question of the limits of the concept of World Literature, both in terms of classroom practice and theoretical understandings of literary traditions across the world.
  1. Introduction by Paul Lyons.
  2. Hosam Aboul-Ela presents.
  3. Francesca Orsini presents.
  4. Ruth Elynia Mabanglo presents.
  5. Craig Santos Perez presents.
  6. Literatures of the World Q&A.
Global Native Literary Studies
Moderator: Alice Te Punga Somerville
Panelists: Chantal Spitz, Daniel Justice, Albert Wendt
Rather than proposing how or why Indigenous and Pacific texts might be included in a concept of (and classes about) World Literature on the basis of the fact that these too are “part of the world,” the panelists will be invited to suggest how World Literature, Pacific, and Indigenous Literary worlds might mutually engage.
  1. Introduction by Alice Te Punga Somerville.
  2. Chantal Spitz presents.
  3. Daniel Justice presents.
  4. Albert Wendt presents.
  5. Global Native Literary Studies Q&A.
Performing Arts and Decolonization
Performers: Donovan Kūhiō Colleps, Kale Hannahs, Brandy Nālani McDougall, Craig Santos Perez, David Kealiʻi MacKenzie, Noʻukahauʻoli Revilla, Lyz Soto, Duncan Osorio, Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio, Danny Carvalho
An evening of spoken word poetry, dance, and music.
  1. kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui performs.
  2. Lyz Soto and No‘ukahau‘oli Revilla perform.
  3. Donovan Kūhiō Colleps and David Keali'i MacKenzie perform.
  4. Brandy Nālani MacDougall and Craig Santos Perez perform.

Saturday, February 9
at the Hālau o Haumea, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies

Moderator: Cristina Bacchilega
Panelists: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Yung-Hee Kim, Bryan Kuwada, S. Shankar
This panel will discuss the impact of translation on the conceptualization and circulation of literatures and oratures in the world, historically and in the present, and ask how translation practices can contribute to resisting a globalizing pedagogy of "world literature."
  1. Introduction by Cristina Bacchilega.
  2. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o presents.
  3. Yung-Hee Kim presents. (video unavailable)
  4. Bryan Kuwada presents.
  5. S. Shankar presents.

Closing Roundtable
Student Facilitators, including Meghan Leialoha Au, Jacquelyn Chappel, Kim Compoc, Steven Gin, Bryan Kuwada, Cheryl Naruse, Tagi Qolouvaki, No‘u Revilla, Aiko Yamashiro
In a similar spirit of an “alternative vision of words in the world,” the Student Hui sought new and different ways to generate discussion, conversation, observations, and reflection among symposium panelists and participants through capturing reactions, questions, themes, and memories generated from the symposium.

For photos of the symposium, join our Facebook group!
Photos from Day 1
Photos from Day 2
Photos from Day 3


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