Taking as their point of departure the murals painted by the Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Miguel Covarrubias for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, the editors address the development of comparative literature as an academic discipline in the U.S. and, more particularly, the recent development of the comparative study of the Americas. This growing field is variously referred to as Americas Studies, Transamerican Studies, Interamerican Studies, Hemispheric Studies and, depending upon the program or curriculum, it may also involve area studies programs that focus on the U.S./Mexico border, the circum-Atlantic, the Pacific rim, the Caribbean, and/or the recently developed conceptual area of the Global South. The editors address these emerging American comparativisms—their limitations and potentials, their disciplinary commitments and conditions, their theories and practices, and their shifting regions and relations. The editors call for a more expansive definition of academic work in the U.S., a definition based on the example of Latin American public intellectuals, and they also call for greater commitment to the teaching and learning of languages and to the translation of literature and literary theory from all areas of the hemisphere.

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