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.
Zachary Norwood, Valparaiso University “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 […]
Earlier this year (2021), Michelle Scalise Sugiyama (Anthropology, University of Oregon) launched Talking Stories: Encyclopedia of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, an open educational resource that situates the prehistory of literature and science in the oral traditions of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Based on the premise that oral narrative is one of humanity’s earliest information technologies, the Encyclopedia […]
I was deeply saddened to learn that the brilliant and warm-hearted Reuven Tsur passed away earlier today. His contributions to the linguistics of poetry–including the study of literary universals–were invaluable. The Literary Universals Project was honored to publish his and Chen Gafni’s “Phonetic Symbolism: Double-Edgedness and Aspect-Switching” just two years ago. This is a great […]