The article argues that the transnational turn in American studies was born out of the demise of socialist Eastern Europe. To this day, the region has remained the unacknowledged generative transnational space that enabled the international reorientation of American studies. The article demonstrates that the work of the New Americanists is a distinct product of the first postsocialist decade. Special attention is devoted to the methodological writings of Donald Pease, one of the founders of the new field, and to the formative influence of F. O. Matthiessen’s 1947 journey to Czechoslovakia on his political radicalization. The article concludes that the demise of Eastern Europe, a prototypical transnational realm, has facilitated the transnational turn in American studies toward investigations of US imperial practices in other geographical locales.
Transnational American Studies: A Postsocialist Phoenix
Joseph Benatov is Hebrew lecturer in foreign languages at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written on competing national narratives of the saving of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II, Jewish identity politics in Philip Roth’s early fiction, and the sensationalism of US representations of life behind the Iron Curtain. He has translated fiction, poetry, and drama, including several plays staged to wide acclaim in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is also the English translator of the contemporary Bulgarian novel Zift, by Vladislav Todorov.
Joseph Benatov; Transnational American Studies: A Postsocialist Phoenix. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 March 2019; 65 (1-2): 23–42. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-7378795
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