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How do literary genres travel across national contexts? What aspects of a genre's poetics make it transportable and/or translatable? "Traveling Genres" takes up this question by considering the case of sea fiction, one of the most successful transnational literary genres of the 19th century. Looking at early examples of the genre drafted by authors in each of the three national contexts where it first took root (James Fenimore Cooper, US; Frederick Marryat, UK; and Eugene Sue, France). I argue that the international success of sea fiction derives from its ability to portray degraded labor and offer compensation by distilling an ethos of embodied practice that I call know-how. This ethos appealed to readers across the advanced capitalist society where sea fiction flourished, even as writers accomodated it to nationally inflected liberal-democratic paradigms.