The Epic World | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Edited Volumes

The Epic World

Edited by Pamela Lothspeich (NHC Fellow, 2019–20)

book cover of The Epic World

New York: Routledge, 2024

From the publisher’s description:

Reconceptualizing the epic genre and opening it up to a world of storytelling, The Epic World makes a timely and bold intervention toward understanding the human propensity to aestheticize and normalize mass deployments of power and violence. The collection broadly considers three kinds of epic literature: conventional celebratory tales of conquest that glorify heroism, especially male heroism; anti-epics or stories of conquest from the perspectives of the dispossessed, the oppressed, the despised, and the murdered; and heroic stories utilized for imperialist or nationalist purposes.

The Epic World illustrates global patterns of epic storytelling, such as the durability of stories tied to religious traditions and/or to peoples who have largely "stayed put" the tendency to reimagine and retell stories in new ways over centuries; and the imbrication of epic storytelling and forms of colonialism and imperialism, especially those perpetuated and glorified by Euro-Americans over the past 500 years, resulting in unspeakable and immeasurable harms to humans, other living beings, and the planet Earth.

The Epic World is a go-to volume for anyone interested in epic literature in a global framework. Engaging with powerful stories and ways of knowing beyond those of the predominantly white Global North, this field-shifting volume exposes the false premises of "Western civilization" and "Classics," and brings new questions and perspectives to epic studies.

History / Literary Criticism / Literature / History of Literature / Epic Poetry / Storytelling / Imperialism / Colonialism /

Lothspeich, Pamela (NHC Fellow, 2019–20), ed. The Epic World. Routledge Worlds. New York: Routledge, 2024.