Any collection of national literature rests finally on that country’s founding myths. This is to say, literary history is the practice of legend making, and the choices behind its creation won’t be innocent, objective, or even wholly scholarly. Indeed, literary anthologies are freighted with all kinds of assumptions, from the geopolitical (in the tensions between history, land, and identity) to the generic (i.e. what counts as “literature”? Who counts as an “author” when?). Once we situate literature as belonging to the history of a particular space,—the point of departure for both the anthology and the literature survey course it supports—any single conceptualization of, let’s say, an “Early American Literature” collection issues a statement on “American” history itself. This is[…]