What, Exactly, Is American Literature?
Ilan Stavans Guests on The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
America, America, America… a continent, a nation, a people, and a whole lotta books. But how does America define itself? Who defines it? Where did the idea of American exceptionalism come from? And how does literature fit into any of this? In this episode, Jacke talks to Professor Ilan Stavans about his new book, What Is American Literature?.
Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, the publisher of Restless Books, and the host of the NPR podcast “In Contrast.” The recipient of numerous international awards, his work, adapted into film, theatre, TV, and radio, has been translated into 20 languages.