The Imaginary and Its Worlds: American Studies after the Transnational Turn
“The group of scholars arranged here are concerned solely with “the concept of the imaginary, which the transnational turn newly urges us to recognize as a methodological and conceptual problem, and which takes different contours in a world conceived in transnational terms” (vii), and the symphony that this scholarly orchestra performs is pitch perfect. Particularly unsurpassable is the book’s final section on “Political Imaginaries” that brings Fluck, Pease, Walter Benn Michaels, and Chris Newfield together in what amounts to a jazz riff on the state of the imaginative nation. If we ever wondered why we are in this business of American studies after the transnational turn, this final section reminds us of the whimsical provocation, play, and sheer imagination that can, under the best of circumstances, guide us to unexpected places of ideation and creation.”
~ American Literary History
A study of the American imaginary in transnational America
The Imaginary and Its Worlds collects essays that boldly rethink the imaginary as a key concept for cultural criticism. Addressing both the emergence and the reproduction of the social, the imaginary is ideally suited to chart the consequences of the transnational turn in American studies. Leading scholars in the field from the United States and Europe address the literary, social, and political dimensions of the imaginary, providing a methodological and theoretical groundwork for American studies scholarship in the transnational era and opening new arenas for conceptualizing formations of imaginary belonging and subjectivity. This important state-of-the-field collection will appeal to a broad constituency of humanists working to overcome methodological nationalism.
“If one wished to move beyond the ‘transnational turn,’ or indeed, ‘turns’ in general, and commit to a broader and more fluid inquiry into how American literature might be read as explorations of an unsettled and unsettling global space, one could wish for no better guide than these top-notch essays by some of today’s most eminent critics. A highly useful introduction orients the reader well, and the pieces that follow confirm the importance of this topic.” ~ David Palumbo-Liu, author of The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age
The Imaginary and Its Worlds: An Introduction • LITERARY IMAGINARIES • Imagining Cultures: The Transnational Imaginary in Postrace America – Ramón Saldívar • The Necessary Fragmentation of the (U.S.) Literary-Cultural Imaginary – Lawrence Buell • Imaginaries of American Modernism – Heinz Ickstadt • SOCIAL IMAGINARIES • William James versus Charles Taylor: Philosophy of Religion and the Confines of the Social and Cultural Imaginaries – Herwig Friedl • The Shaping of We-Group Identities in the African American Community: A Perspective of Figurational Sociology on the Cultural Imaginary – Christa Buschendorf • Russia’s Californio Romance: The Other Shores of Whitman’s Pacific – Lene Johannessen • Form Games: Staging Life in the Systems Epoch – Mark Seltzer • POLITICAL IMAGINARIES • Real Toads – Walter Benn Michaels • Obama Unwound: The Romanticism of Victory and the Defeat of Compromise – Christopher Newfield • Barack Obama’s Orphic Mysteries – Donald E. Pease • Coda. The Imaginary and the Second Narrative: Reading as Transfer – Winfried Fluck • Contributors • Index