The mediating nation: American literature and globalization from Henry James to Woodrow Wilson Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Cadle, Nathaniel
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • The Mediating Nation: American Literature and Globalization from Henry James to Woodrow Wilson reconstructs the history of American globalization between 1875 and 1920 through an analysis of literary and public discourse about the United States’ place in the world. Engaging the work of sociologists like Roland Robertson, who locates the origins of globalization in this period, I argue that American identity emerges only in relation to—and interaction with—the rest of the world. This approach therefore rejects exceptionalist readings of American literature, offering instead a functionalist account of the formation of American identity and culture that focuses on America’s position in the international community. The Mediating Nation integrates and expands the work of several recent literary critics, including Walter Benn Michaels, who reveals how racial and cultural anxiety shaped American writers’ sense of national identity, and Amy Kaplan, who demonstrates how American authors underwrote U.S. policies of imperial expansion. In the first section of this project, I establish how global theory contributes to our understanding of American literary scholarship and what historical events and developments turned the United States into a globalized nation. Then, I explore the language that politicians and public intellectuals like Woodrow Wilson and William James used to make sense of these developments. In subsequent chapters, I demonstrate that, through their writing, such authors as Jack London, Abraham Cahan, and Henry James engaged with and elaborated on the emerging features and problems of globalization, including imperialism, immigration, and the global cultural economy, in order to propel the United States into a more important and powerful position in the international community.
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  • Thrailkill, Jane
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