With A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism, Eric Hayot and Rebecca L. Walkowitz have compiled an unlikely “user's manual” to the field of global modernist studies (2). A manual shows its user the single, precise way to assemble its object. Hayot and Walkowitz's edited collection, by contrast, assembles an array of lexical approaches to the ubiquitous but unsettled object that is global modernism. Words like “Animal,” “Copy,” “Pantomime,” and “Puppets” cut across the field, opening it up and reconfiguring its assumptions.

In graduate school, a story circulated about a student who had envisioned a dissertation centered on a brilliant, pithy key term. A wise professor in the department approved the prospectus, but, as the beaming student got up to begin work, remarked in a dry tone: “Remember, a word is not an argument.” This collection presents essays on 16 words, and, like the book it must salute, Raymond Williams's...

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