The Microcosm Within the Macrocosm: How the Literature of a Small Diaspora Fits Within the Context of Global Literature


The twentieth century was a century of global powers: the Soviet Union, the United States. Now China is on the rise. Where do these superpowers and major language groups leave small countries and their identities? Whether we are ready for it or not, humanity is shifting away from tribal identities towards a global identity that is yet to be defined. This process began with massive shifts of refugees during World War II and continues today with refugees internationally displaced by economic deprivation, environmental disasters, and war. As population shifts continue, humanity has no other option but to adapt. These processes are reflected in contemporary global literature.A life straddling two or more cultures and languages becomes second nature to those born into an ethnic diaspora. The children and grandchildren of refugees learn from a young age to hold two or three cultural perspectives and languages in balance. Writers who emerge from these diasporas have a unique perspective.Since the postwar era Lithuanian diasporas have existed in North America, South America, Australia, Europe, and now Asia. In American literature several generations of descendants of Lithuanian war refugees have emerged who write in English about their nation's experience. Most notable is Ruta Sepetys, whose novel, Between Shades of Gray, has been published in 41 countries and translated into 23 languages, including Japanese and Chinese. This paper will examine how the literature of one nation's diaspora fits within the context of global literature. How is the microcosm in the macrocosm?

Author Information
Laima Vince Sruoginis, Vilnius University, Lithuania

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2018
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

This paper is part of the ACAH2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon