World literature: Henry James as case study

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Henry James's tales and novels anticipate current discussions of how to read and teach World Literature. Jamesian conflations and refusals of the lines among and between countries, continents, worlds, and time uncannily predict the conversation we are now having about world literature and reading and teaching translated texts, reaching across historical, national, and cultural boundaries in direct violation of the "old rules" of comparative literature. This paper argues that James's fiction provides us with a particularly useful case study, both in its own right and in the ways traditional James criticism has read it: for example, whereas traditional James criticism reads the so-called "international theme" as predicated on a dichotomy between "old" world and "new," that dichotomy is precisely what is interrogated in the fiction. The Jamesian subject, that is, is constructed not as a "character," but as a mode of reading and circulation betwixt and between national and temporal boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Boundaries
  • Henry James
  • Reading
  • Teaching
  • Translation
  • World Literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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