Paul Jay – Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies

Global mattersPaul Jay. Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2010. 231pp., Print.
Cornell Paperbacks: ISBN 978-0-8014-7607-5

Paul Jay’s book aims to historicize the evolution of literary and cultural studies, questioning the view that globalization may be a strictly contemporary or postmodern phenomenon in which economic evolutions would trump cultural issues. Jay contemplates a shift in focus in the field of English studies from a national to a transnational framework. In the romantic period, the nation could be regarded as the home  for single literatures and languages. The arnoldian model sawthe “best” literature as trnascending local and historical circumstances to embody universal truths and a relevance to the definition of a universal condition. The new engagement is with differences: transnational spaces, race, class, gender, hybrid identities, border regions. , so that “American studies” have become transnational. But Jay warns against “facile approaches to the study of cultural globalization that tend to simply celebrate diversity and hybridity without thinking critically enough about its effects.”

In its second part the book examines a handful of works of fiction that transcend the national boundaries to which they belong, thus embodying the “transnationalizing of English literature.”

Paul Jay’s book is reviewed in AmeriQuests 8.1 (2011) and elsewhere (see Paul Jay’s page on the book for his selection of reviews).

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