When, in 1990, Gustavo Pérez Firmat asked, “Do the Americas have a common literature?” He was responding to a fledgling critical endeavor that had been pioneered during the previous decade in only a handful of studies, by such Latin Americanists and literary comparatists as M. J. Valdés, José Ballón, Bell Gale Chevigny, Gari Laguardia, Vera Kutzinski, Alfred Owen Aldridge, and Lois Parkinson Zamora (“Cheek” 2). Although “inter-American literary studies”—the comparative investigation of the “literatures and cultures of this hemisphere” as one unit of study—seemed to Pérez Firmat “something of a terra incognita” in 1990 (“Cheek” 1–2), the hemispheric conception of American studies had originated in the United States some sixty years earlier with the Berkeley historian Herbert Eugene Bolton (1870–1953), who argued, in his seminal 1932 presidential address to the American Historical Association, for an “essential unity” in the history of the Western hemisphere (472). Although the contributing historians in Lewis Hanke's 1964 collection of essays Do the Americas Have a Common History? gave this “Bolton Thesis” a decidedly mixed review, the thesis provided the inspiration for Pérez Firmat's landmark collection and a starting point for much subsequent hemispheric scholarship. Meanwhile, inter-American studies has had a strong tradition in Europe that is, in fact, older than Pérez Firmat's or Hanke's collection. As early as the 1950s, the eminent Italian Americanist Antonello Gerbi was publishing his groundbreaking works in comparative hemispheric and Atlantic history, which studied the early modern polemic about the degenerative influences the New World environments had on plants, animals, and humans. Also, Hans Galinsky, at the University of Mainz, was exploring the literature of the European discovery and aesthetic forms such as the baroque in the early Americas from a comparative perspective in the 1960s.