This book provides a history of the way in which literature not only reflects, but actively shapes processes of globalization and our notions of global phenomena. It takes in a broad sweep of history, from antiquity, through to the era of imperialism and on to the present day. Whilst its primary focus is our own historical conjuncture, it looks at how earlier periods have shaped this by tracking key concepts that are imbricated with the concept of globalization, from translation, to empire, to pandemics and environmental collapse. Drawing on these older themes and concerns, it then traces the germ of the relation between global phenomena and literary studies into the 20th and 21st centuries, exploring key issues and frames of study such as contemporary slavery, the digital, world literature and the Anthropocene.
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