As teachers and readers expand the canon of world literature to include writers whose voices traditionally have been silenced by the dominant culture, fundamental questions arise. What do we mean by "world"? What constitutes "literature"? Who should decide? Reading World Literature is a cumulative study of the concept and evolving practices of "world literature." Sarah Lawall opens the book with a substantial introduction to the overall topic. Twelve original essays by distinguished specialists run the gamut from close readings of specific texts to problems of translation theory and reader response. The sequence of essays develops from re-examinations of traditional canonical pieces through explorations of less familiar works to discussions of reading itself as a "literacy" dependent on worldview. Reading World Literature will open challenging new vistas for a wide audience in the humanities, from traditionalists to avant-garde specialists in literary theory, cultural studies, and area studies.