Chapter

Introduction: Globalizing American Studies

Brian T. Edwards and Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar

in Globalizing American Studies

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780226185064
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226185088 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226185088.003.0001
Introduction: Globalizing American Studies

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The roots of both American studies and the understanding of the twentieth century as the “American Century” can be found earlier in the twentieth century. The myth of an American Century and the mythology of American exceptionalism sustained each other through subsequent decades, even though American studies scholars grappled with them both repeatedly, and attempted to free themselves from these narratives by identifying and critiquing their limitations and occlusions. The exceptionalist thesis has made possible many sophisticated readings of American history, literature, and society. This chapter attempts to locate the roots of the multilateralism that may already exist in literature and Americanist scholarship, conscious of the contingency of “America” within global circulation. The combination of American studies–American exceptionalism–American Century has served until now as an enabling interpretive matrix that has been able to contain a variety of contradictions, generated both internally by academic inquiry and externally by changing historical conditions.

Keywords: American studies; exceptionalism; historical conditions; multilateralism; Americanist scholarship

Chapter.  20437 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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