Two lines of thought and analysis run through this double issue of Ideas in History. The first one relates to the question of nation and nationalism, while the second question explores the use of literature as a source in historical studies. Katarina Leppänen's article combines these two strands by exploring how literature can be used as a space to explore alternative national identities. Anna Bohlin's article examines the concept of the nation as it is used in Frederik Bremer's The Homes of the New World, Alexis de Tocqueville's De la démocratie en Amérique and Harriet Martineau's Society in America. By focusing on Selma Lagerlöf's more peripheral sources such as letters, (auto)biographical accounts, magazines and some "minor" texts in her oeuvre, Jenny Bergenmar's article discusses the tendency of literary scholars to premier major works, instead of analyzing a broader variety of materials. Eve Annuk continues the inquiry into "minor" sources in her article and discusses the printed media's considerable influence in shaping the debate on national independence and gender emancipation in the late 19th century Estonia. Kalle Pihlainen brings the question of emigrant literature to the table and asks how literature can be approached in relation to the surrounding culture without merely explaining that relation in terms of some kind of reflection. Lastly, Kristin Rodier's article takes us on a journey through a postmodern landscape of identities, asking why national identity is given such weight at the expense of other forms of identities.