American Tropics Towards a Literary Geography
Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Peter Hulme, Owen Robinson, Lesley Wylie
This series offers a new approach to the writing of literary history. For more than two centuries literary history has been based on the Romantic idea of the nation state: literature has been seen as the expression of an evolving national identity and literary history therefore written backwards, with a teleological sense of what the boundaries of a particular nation would look like, even when dealing with writing produced when those boundaries were different or non-existent. In this series the approach is geographical, in the sense that the focus is on regions within an area which crosses national borders. The development of the discipline of cultural geography has encouraged more sophisticated analyses of notions of place and region, which this series brings to bear on its materials. American Tropics refers to a kind of extended Caribbean, an area which includes the southern USA, the Atlantic littoral of Central America, the Caribbean islands, and northern South America. European colonial powers fought intensively here against indigenous populations and against each other for control of land and resources. This area shares a history in which the dominant fact is the arrival of millions of white Europeans and black Africans; shares an environment which is tropical or sub-tropical; and shares a socio-economic model (the plantation), whose effects lasted at least well into the twentieth century. The imaginative space of the American Tropics therefore offers a differently-centred literary history from those conventionally produced as US, Caribbean, or Latin American literature.