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  • Global Matters: The Transnational Turn and Literary Studies
  • Ana Isabel Carballal
Paul Jay . Global Matters: The Transnational Turn and Literary Studies. Ithica: Cornell University Press, 2010. 232p.

According to Global Matters: The Transnational Turn and Literary Studies, transnational and global studies had their beginning when the focus of literary studies shifted from a Eurocentric approach to enclose minorities and postcolonial literatures. For Paul Jay, globalization is not a recent phenomena but a theoretical development that had its start in the 1960s in political and social institutions as well as in universities. Moreover, for Jay globalization covers the issues of imperialism, colonization, and decolonization. Globalization is not solely an economic or cultural phenomenon. It does not put us either in danger of homogenization since uncontaminated cultures do not exist per se but all cultures are shaped by others. What exists is a connection between global and feminist studies and a continuous exchange between the center and the periphery that leads to new forms of agency. For Jay, global studies do not push towards fragmentation and incoherence but towards the building of new critical approaches that help to renew the discipline. Regarding the interrelation of Global and Postcolonial studies, Jay assesses that postcolonialism cannot be taken away by globalization and there is a responsibility to continue studying the histories of imperialism and colonialism.

The book is divided into two parts. The first one is devoted to the theoretical and methodological approaches of global studies while the second examines particular literary works. Chapter one addresses the introduction of globalization in the field of literary studies and the idea that, as Mathew Arnold put it, the best literature is one that transcends historical and national barriers. Edward Said and Masao Miyoshi's work come up with very pertinent problems such as the pressing need for a definition of globalization, the issues of multiculturalism and globalism and the impact of globalization on the study of particular national literatures. [End Page 242]

In the second chapter, Jay states that, in order to define globalization, first we have to historicize it. Among the critics mentioned, Arjun Appadurai sees globalization as a contemporary phenomenon, rooted in the outburst of new technology, media and forms of communication. Meanwhile Roland Robertson talks about a global approach in which literary studies include diverse times and periods. In the third chapter, Jay links globalization, economics and politics with the relationship between poor and rich countries. Globalization and the development in transportations and communications have had an enormous impact on the economic progress of the world. Still, this chapter brings to the attention of the reader several problems such as deterritorialization, the disruption of national paradigms, and the increase of population which results in the dissolution of cultures.

In chapter four, Jay addresses the problem of borders. He does not reject the empirical national borders marked by countries as much as the fact that there are many commonalities among those nations that should be explored and brought to attention. In this regard it is important to point out his stance on hybridity and the hybridized. For him, hybridity is so much a component of nations that talking about purity is not only obsolete but completely false in regards to the creation of cultures and identities.

The second part of the book is centered on the use of these theoretical approaches to study particular literary works. He starts with Arundathi Roy's The God of Small Things, Vikram Chandra's Red Earth and Pouring Rain, and Moshim Hamid's Moth Smoke. Roy's book, which is defined as a work of postnational fiction, examines the contemporary conditions of a country that, after having been living under British rule, has to find its own identity, an experience described as claustrophobic and agonizing. Chandra's novel focuses more on the consequences of postcolonialism rather than on the effects of globalization. Then, characters tend to struggle between two identities, the British and their own (Indian). Instead of feeling oppressed by the exterior world they want to embrace it because of their fascination by it. Finally, Hamid's novel, written from what he calls a "post" postcolonial generation perspective, establishes the relationship between colonialism and globalization...


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pp. 242-244
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