Participation is a core value of the U.S.-American concept of the nation. The promise of participation encompasses full and equal access to participate in political, social, cultural, religious, and economic activities. At the same time, exclusion from social participation has been salient in the history of the U.S., and recently even a decline in participation alongside growing polarization can be observed. The notion of participation, however, is more comprehensive than such a narrow political perspective may suggest. Forms of literary production and reception can likewise be understood as social practices of participation.

This volume sheds light on how participation has been debated in contemporary Americanist scholarship. The papers included explore the idea of participation beyond its function as a political principle in a democratic nation-state, which will help to understand in more detail the diverse relationships between the literary, the cultural, and the political.