Introduction : The New Atlantic literary Studies

Book chapter


Giles, Paul. (2016). Introduction : The New Atlantic literary Studies. In In Eckel, Leslie Elizabeth and Elliot, Clare Frances (Ed.). The Edinburgh companion to Atlantic literary studies pp. 1-14 Edinburgh University Press.
AuthorsGiles, Paul
EditorsEckel, Leslie Elizabeth and Elliot, Clare Frances
Abstract

[Extract] The term ‘Atlantic literary studies’, although apparently neutral enough, in fact implies in itself various power imbalances. Such a term would, for example, rarely be applied to the plethora of studies emerging from the United States that have concerned themselves with European literature, from Maynard Mack on Alexander Pope to Stephen Greenblatt on Shakespeare. The United States has by default institutionalised itself as a normative centre for intellectual enterprises of this kind, so that the process of transatlantic exchange involved in, say, Mack’s work on Pope has effectively been glossed over. The US academy has, however, not always been so comfortable in accommodating overseas perspectives on its own national literature, and in recent times the term ‘Atlantic literary studies’ has taken on a more specific meaning, one foregrounding those aspects of literary study where the presence (or absence) of Atlantic crossing has itself become an important factor in the cultural understanding of particular works. In a de facto way, this has narrowed the focus of Atlantic literary studies from general consideration of how literary narratives circulate transatlantically to a more specific attention on the processes of canon formation and the ways in which they uphold, however problematically, the values and boundaries of any given host culture. There have always been scholars who have interrogated ways in which European languages and culture intersected with both the US national domain and a broader American culture: the work of Durand Echeverria in the 1950s on ‘the French Image of American Society’ and J. H. Elliott’s more recent examination of links between Spain and the Atlantic world come to mind. The ‘new’ Atlantic studies, however, is organised around not so much an area as a problem: the ways in which national formations have been institutionalised, sometimes under the pressure of local funding regimes, and the normative assumptions that have come to be associated with practices of this kind.

Keywordsliteracy criticism; Atlantic literary studies; America; literature
Page range1-14
Year2016
Book titleThe Edinburgh companion to Atlantic literary studies
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Place of publicationEdinburgh, United Kingdom
ISBN9781474402941
9781474402958
9781474418287
Web address (URL)https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1585021&site=ehost-live&scope=site
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Output statusPublished
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Print2016
Online2016
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Deposited12 May 2022
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