Issues in World Literature

Introduction, to accompany The Harper Collins World Reader, written with Sarah Bird Wright (1994), 9-18.

Introduction: This collection of essays by specialists in world literature teaches us to care about theory as part of the teaching of literature. The essaysist tell us that, in reading widely across cultures, the work-a-day vocabulary of the humanities or literature class need to be reviewed, reconsidered, and redefined: worlds like "literature, period, genre, identity, race, gender, American, British, Western and culture." Un the stree of comaring, for example, the literary periods of British literature to Chinese, Earl Miner points out that perods of English literature are inconsistently defined and are based on ideologically different premises from the Chines....