This dissertation addresses three critical issues in the emergence of world literature as both a scholarly discipline and a pedagogical project. Using the prominent modern Chinese writer Lu Xun as a case study, the project challenges the unstated assumptions that have thus far undergirded world literature. First, it probes the tacit acceptance of translation as a necessity for the teaching of world literature. However, rather than predictably but pointlessly calling for the necessity of reading in the original, I instead argue that the history of a text's translation can be as instructive as the text itself. Looking at both Lu Xun's translations of Western works into Chinese, and translations of Lu Xun's works into Western languages reveals compelling stories about the influence of imperialism and the Cold War on the bidirectional reception of these texts. Second, the dissertation interrogates the aims of world literature as an area of study. Rather than casting it as an inclusive mode of representation, I envision world literature as a means of theorizing globalization on a cultural level, free of crassly economic paradigms. I analyze Lu Xun's exceptionally broad reading of both Chinese and Western texts to articulate an aesthetic epistemology that enables the development of high-resolution models to chart the movement of texts and ideas. Finally, I position Lu Xun neither as a Chinese writer, nor as an ill-defined "world" author, but as an active participant in both national and transnational literary discourses. As such, he serves as a counterexample to the tacit reliance on national categories found in many anthologies of world literature.