Literary Universals

Modeled on the study of linguistic universals, the Literary Universals Project has two specific purposes. First, it should facilitate access to established work on literary universals, which has otherwise been scattered. Second, it should foster the advancement of further research on literary universals. These specific purposes should in turn contribute to our more general knowledge about literature and, ultimately, our understanding of the human mind and human society.


(860) 486-2141
University of Connecticut
Department of English
215 Glenbrook Road, U-4025
Storrs, CT 06269-4025

Recent Articles

  • Historicism and Universals
    By: Bradley Irish, Arizona State University “Anyone who embarks upon the study of historicism,” Frederick Beiser warned not too long ago, “should be wary: he enters an intellectual minefield” (Beiser, “Historicism,” 174).  The present essay is an attempt to navigate, with necessary tentativeness, a particular corner of this minefield, by broadly charting how the theme […]
  • Common Objections to (and Misunderstandings of) Literary Universals
    Zachary Norwood   “To suggest that there are no universals—that they are flatus vocis—is to endanger our uniqueness.” —Richard Rorty (Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature 43)   The term “literary universals,” when not properly understood, can sound pejorative and theoretically dubious: whatever could be universal about literature, one of the most—if not the most—broad, varied, […]
  • HUMAN UNIVERSALS (1991): Reflections on its Whence and Whither
    Donald Brown, University of California at Santa Barbara Human universals have been a part of anthropological thought from the field’s academic beginning, yet to my knowledge no book devoted to the topic had been published for many decades before mine of 1991, Human Universals. I here recount how that book came about, along with notes […]