Guest Lecture by Derek C. Maus: The Benefits of a Comparative (and Expansive) Approach to American Literature for Austrian Students

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 at 12:45 in HS4 at the University of Klagenfurt, presented by the Narrative Encounters Project

Studying literatures from outside one’s own cultural/national/linguistic/ethnic background requires navigating through an interpretive Scylla and Charybdis. One extreme creates overly touristic readings that merely “honor” or “sample” local variations without also seeking to understand how and why they matter to a text’s reception outside its originating culture; the other assigns value to a work exclusively on the basis of its potential to transcend spatial and temporal borders. The narrow path between these two options involves remaining receptive to the unfamiliar without prejudging it – either positively or negatively – because of its alterity. Every scholar can bring his or her personal experiences and values to bear productively on a text provided that those experiences do not impart rigid expectations about what kind of literature is worthy of consideration.

Derek C. Maus is Professor of English and Communication at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he teaches numerous courses on contemporary literature from all over the world. He has published numerous books and articles, most of which have focused on the subject of satire. His full CV, samples of his work, and other scholarly information can be found at

Imagine credit: Alias