In this issue of Comparative American Studies we bring together five essays that examine the ways in which US cultural space has moulded notions of both American and non-American identity. Comparisons and crossings characterise these analyses, which start with two essays that consider the cultural space of the early American nation in – firstly – the neo-Classical architecture of the Founding Fathers and – secondly – in the fascination for Eastern religion of the Transcendentalists. If the early US struggled to make an identity for itself from the past and from the East, this is no less the case for the mid-century poet, Delmore Schwartz. Alex Runchman’s essay on Schwartz seeks to tease out the implications of his claim that he was a ‘purely American poet’ by reading his work within the context of transatlantic poetics, a strategy that significantly, and interestingly, complicates readings of his work. And in another gesture of cultural complication, John Ochoa’s essay demonstrates the ways on which the rhetoric of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista movement in Mexico draws on US Cold War rhetoric. Charles Sabatos’ essay uses an examination of the use of the Slovak language in the novels of Thomas Bell to think through the ways in which – comparatively – crossing between old and new worlds and languages helps illuminate the relationship that ethnic American writers have to their cultural origins. And an investigation of cultural crossings is central to Markus Heide’s reading of Amores Perros and Sleep Dealer, two films which explore the US-Mexico border. And so in the closing two essays of this issue we return to a key concern for America’s founding fathers, and for the cultural commentators writing in The Dial in the mid-nineteenth century (themes raised in the two opening essays of this issue), namely the ways in which questions of origin and of identity cross and re-cross in the articulation of a newly emerging US cultural sensibility. US identity, it seems, has always been a comparative exercise.