Shades of the Planet
American Literature as World Literature
Edited by Wai Chee Dimock & Lawrence Buell
In a globalizing age, studying American literature in isolation from the rest of the world seems less and less justified. But is the conceptual box of the nation dispensable? And what would American literature look like without it?Leading scholars take up this debate in Shades of the Planet, beginning not with the United States as center, but with the world as circumference. This reversed frame yields a surprising landscape, alive with traces of West Africa, Eastern Europe, Iran, Iraq, India, China, Mexico, and Australia. The Broadway musical Oklahoma! has aboriginal antecedents; Black English houses an African syntax; American slavery consorts with the Holocaust; Philip Roth keeps company with Milan Kundera; the crime novel moves south of the border; and R. P. Blackmur lectures in Japan. A national literature becomes haunted by the world when that literature is seen extending to the Pacific, opening up to Islam, and accompanying African-American authors as they travel. Highlighting American literature as a fold in a planet-wide fabric, this pioneering volume transforms the field, redrawing its institutional as well as geographical map.The contributors are Rachel Adams, Jonathan Arac, Homi K. Bhabha, Lawrence Buell, Wai Chee Dimock, Susan Stanford Friedman, Paul Giles, David Palumbo-Liu, Ross Posnock, Joseph Roach, and Eric J. Sundquist.Wai Chee Dimock is William Lampson Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. Her most recent book is Through Other Continents: American Literature across Deep Time (Princeton). Lawrence Buell is Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University. His many books include Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the United States and Beyond.