While the Epic of Gilgamesh, the verses of Sappho, or Aztec poetry were composed and rooted in their respective langs. and societies, they were neither considered a reflection of their cultures nor regarded as autonomous aesthetic artifacts. National, poetry, on the other hand, is a paradoxical entity, both a self-conscious aesthetic form and a participant in social life.Of course, these works were not originally "considered" to be "rooted" in a particular society either. They were not considered autonomous artifacts because autonomy was a subsequent debate, culminating in the 19th century, but the poetry of Sappho was always pretty close to what we consider artistically self-sufficient lyric poetry. It doesn't seem to be ritualistic or a vehicle for the retelling of myth. I am also confused about why being self-conscious aesthetic form and participant in social life is seen as a paradox. National poetry can only participate in social life on the condition of its being a self-conscious aesthetic form. Those are not two separate things, after all.
The rest of the article is very good, though focused a bit too much on Jusdanis's own speciality, modern Greek. He says that national poetry "was syncretic while all the time claiming to be monocultural." I would put this a bit differently: "it often claims to be syncretic while still advocating for a single understanding of a national culture." There is an uneasy tension between syncretism and monoculturalism that cannot be explained by an either / or. The idea of writing about national poetry (rather than a national literature) is useful for my purposes.
Now I realize I must read his book Belated Modernity.