Given its discursive amplification and its very real impact on contemporary societies, fundamentalism has become the focus of much scholarly attention. However, whereas it is commonly recognized to be centred on texts, the complex and at times paradoxical relationship of fundamentalism with literature remains as yet largely unexplored. Based on new research by an international team of scholars working in the fields of literary and cultural studies, the essays gathered in this volume are based on a number of theoretical frameworks and debates and open up a historical perspective which engages critically with received notions of fundamentalism: by exploring literary representations of fundamentalisms and the function of literature in fundamentalism, they enquire into the underlying generic differences and incompatibilities as well as - perhaps more unexpected - the similarities and affinities between fundamentalism and literature.
Opening up a historical perspective reaching back to the early sixteenth century, concepts of fundamentalism as a response to exclusively modernist tendencies since the beginning of the twentieth century are challenged in this volume and several contributors begin to explore the rise of fundamentalisms at various points in history characterized by the crisis experience of cultural change. While taking this conceptual base as a point of departure, the articles collected here then spread out on a plurality of theoretical frameworks. Alert to the productive friction between these discourses, which it aims to elicit, the volume confronts earlier research in the disciplines of theology, history of religion, sociology, political history, anthropology and - if less copious - literary studies with postcolonial and cultural studies.
With its general focus on writing in English, including American and British literatures as well as the "new" literatures in English worldwide, the collection takes into account cultural and historical affinities and differences which have contributed to the ongoing negotiations of fundamentalism and literature in the English language and transcends borders of both nations and academic disciplines. In exploring new perspectives on fundamentalism and literature, the volume offers tools for a better understanding of this interrelation which should be of interest to scholars across all disciplines concerned with fundamentalism as a social and cultural phenomenon of ever growing global importance and impact.