This essay argues that Katherine Anne Porter’s Mexico writings of the 1920s and 1930s played a prominent role in the turn toward a transnational “literature of experience” in the interwar US literary field. Reading the stories “Flowering Judas,” “That Tree,” and “Hacienda” alongside Porter’s nonfiction, the author claims that Porter’s work helped inaugurate a new literary aesthetic in the United States that equated “good literature” with prolonged firsthand exposure to non-US people and places. The essay studies Porter’s development of the literature of experience in relation to US-Mexico cultural exchange, Malcolm Cowley’s influential narrative of US modernism in Exile’s Return, and Porter’s own eventual canonization by the New Critics.

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