Provisional "Introduction" for Presentation at Literary Festival in late September
From September 25 through 27, I'll be at a conference on "Literature and National Community," and I'll be speaking on "The United States and the Case of Stephen Vincent Benét."
Here's my provisional "Introduction":
I am informed that my presentation on "Literature and National Community . . . . will be representing the English speaking countries." That's a lot of countries, and I can probably only manage to represent myself, but since I'm American, I'll pretend to represent the United States. But what am I to say? I suppose I can start with Benedict Anderson's famous view of a nation: "In an anthropological spirit, . . . I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign." Limited, because there are other nations. Sovereign, because not under the rule of another nation. Community, because of a "deep, horizontal comradeship." And imagined, because members do not know most of their fellow-members, yet have a mental image of their communion (Anderson, 6-7). Where does this mental image come from? Partly, at least sometimes, from literature. Which brings me to my subject: Stephen Vincent Benét.It's provisional because I'll be submitting it for approval late August . . .
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso: 2006.