Against the territoriality of national literatures and the reification of genres and periods by institutionalised literary studies, Wai Chee Dimock writes of a planetary literature that is ‘the enemy of the state’ (2001, 175). Texts ‘play havoc with territorial sovereignty’ (175) and, for Dimock, operate in an anarchic, asynchronic literary universe that unsettles the fiction of structure demanded by publishers and practitioners alike. Her prime example in this case is Osip Mandelstam, who famously said of literature under Stalin, ‘Poetry is respected only in this country – people are killed for it’ (cited in Mandelstam 1999, 161). Mandelstam would die in the gulag for the poems like ‘Stalin Epigram’, and the lethal significance of his work demonstrates, in Dimock’s view, literature’s fundamental extraterritoriality. That extraterritoriality, she writes, is corollary to literature thought as ‘an off-center set of vibrations, chaotic and tangential – expanding with the more or less random accretion of signifying moments, emerging at various temporal and spatial removes’ (Dimock 2001, 176). World literature, in other words, challenges stateship when it passes spatial, temporal, and linguistic borders. This is literature’s worldly effect, its rippling and polyvalent disruption within the web of uneven relations among writers, books, and readers. This is the revolutionary potential inhering in the unaccountable body of world literature today. The essays collected here take their inspiration from that revolutionary potential, asking how dissenting literatures circulate in a global context and how local conceptions of dissent might help us to reframe the study of world literature as a force for justice and equality.