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David Damrosch’s What is World Literature? is viewed as a classic work on world literature. Focusing on the national, cosmopolitan and strategic dimensions of world literature, this article attempts to analyze What is World Literature? from a world – systems perspective, aiming to explore the correlation between antisystemic movements and world literature. This study finds that antisystemic movements are closely related to American scholars’ re – proposing the world literature concept. Domestic and international antisystemic movements are important motivations for the United States to advocate this concept, and world literature in return plays a vital role in mitigating the contradictions caused by antisystemic movements, and serves as an important cultural tool for the United States to implement its globalization strategy. What is World Literature?’s elaboration of world literature profoundly demonstrates the universal relationship between literature and politics, and stimulates scholars to consider what kind of world literature should be constructed.