Emergent U.S. Literatures

From Multiculturalism to Cosmopolitanism in the Late Twentieth Century

288 pages

November, 2014

ISBN: 9781479873388



Also available in


American Studies


Cyrus R. K. Patell is Professor of Literature at NYU Abu Dhabi. He is co-editor, with Deborah Lindsay Williams, of The Oxford History of the American Novel, Volume 8: American Fiction after 1940.

All books by Cyrus Patell

Emergent U.S. Literatures introduces readers to the foundational writers and texts produced by four literary traditions associated with late-twentieth-century US multiculturalism. Examining writing by Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and gay and lesbian Americans after 1968, Cyrus R. K. Patell compares and historicizes what might be characterized as the minority literatures within “U.S. minority literature.” 
Drawing on recent theories of cosmopolitanism, Patell presents methods for mapping the overlapping concerns of the texts and authors of these literatures during the late twentieth century. He discusses the ways in which literary marginalization and cultural hybridity combine to create the grounds for literature that is truly “emergent” in Raymond Williams’s sense of the term—literature that produces “new meanings and values, new practices, new relationships and kinds of relationships” in tension with the dominant, mainstream culture of the United States. By enabling us to see the American literary canon through the prism of hybrid identities and cultures, these texts require us to reevaluate what it means to write (and read) in the American grain. Emergent U.S. Literatures gives readers a sense of how these foundational texts work as aesthetic objects—rather than merely as sociological documents—crafted in dialogue with the canonical tradition of so-called “American Literature,” as it existed in the late twentieth century, as well as in dialogue with each other.


  • Emergent U.S. Literatures will be an essential text for understanding the historical forces at work in the ways in which we define American literature today. An ambitious piece of scholarship, Cyrus Patell draws from an impressive knowledge of major works in emergent literatures, showing us not only how these literatures have developed in conversation with each other but also pushing us to think about the cosmopolitan nature of creative expression.”

    —Min Hyoung Song, author of The Children of 1965: On Writing, and Not Writing, as an Asian American

  • "[S]tudents and scholars will benefit from reading the book as a whole; beyond the historical scope, the book's primary advantage is that it will give readers numerous ideas about texts they might be interested in investigating in greater detail."


  •  “[…] Patell’s brief assessment of each author or text provides a useful stepping stone for other scholars who can build on his work, so the book concludes by opening up the debate and paving the way for others to join in.”

    The Review of English Studies

  •  “In Emergent U.S. Literatures Cyrus R.K. Patell makes a key distinction between the previously preferred term multicultural and newly favored word cosmopolitan when describing what he calls ‘emergent literatures.’”

    American Literary Scholarship

  • “Patell’s close reading of a wide array of writers—Jessica Hagedorn, Leslie Marmon Silko, Paul Monette, and N. Scott Momaday, among others—is skillful and sensitive.”

    American Literature