Cosmopolitans at home and abroad:
Cosmopolitanism in nineteenth-century British and American literature.
This proposed collection seeks essays addressing cosmopolitanism and the figure of the cosmopolitan in British and American literature from 1789 to 1914.
The idea of the global or universal citizen, as formulated in the context of late eighteenth-century Kantian philosophy, remains central to utopian ideas about world government and human rights. Relatedly, cosmopolitan ideals ostensibly aim to create international geopolitical relationships, in which national borders are eradicated, legal codes are harmonized and commercial and personal traffic is eased. As such, cosmopolitanism has become synonymous with the idea of a “world citizen” and the multicultural state. Assumptions about the utopian nature of the cosmopolitan state, however, have been seen as troubling in the context of imperial and state power. In this context, the figure of the cosmopolitan has often been represented as potentially threatening to local or regional traditions and collectives: its seeming detachment from immediate geopolitical and social relationships and presumed lack of a personal connection to a place or a people made it a source of suspicion.
The rapid cultural and economic expansion of the Anglo-American world over the long nineteenth century brought the tensions described by these competing definitions of cosmopolitanism to the fore with special urgency. For this reason, its literary representation provides a site to consider issues such as the renegotiation of regional and global interests, the creation of new national and imperial identities, and the intersections between cultures both locally and internationally. The recent turn to transnational, transatlantic and hemispheric studies offers the opportunity to explore these relationships issues from new perspectives.
Topics of interest might include but are not limited to:
- Imperialism, expansionism and colonialism
- Technological advances and cultural exchange
- Transatlantic reform networks, lecture circuits and exhibitions
- Secret societies and conspiracy theories
- Economic, financial and corporate cosmopolitanism
- Representations of foreigners, travelers, tourists and expatriates
- National, racial, ethnic and class identities
- Geography, environment and nature
- Romantic nationalism and regionalism
- Authorial cosmopolitanism