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Cosmopolis and Beyond: Literary Cosmopolitanism after the Republic of Letters

Cosmopolitanism, derived from the ancient Greek for ‘world citizenship’, offers a radical alternative to nationalism, asking individuals to imagine themselves as part of a community that goes beyond national and linguistic boundaries. Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in cosmopolitanism in the humanities and social sciences, especially within philosophy, sociology and politics. Cosmopolitanism, however, has also exercised a shaping influence on modern literary culture. It is well known that during the Enlightenment it found an embodiment in the Republic of Letters. Its evolution thereafter included uneasy alliances with the idea of Empire in the nineteenth century, and with the experiments of the international avant gardes and modernist circles, and the phenomenon of globalisation in the twentieth. Through these, and more, cultural formations cosmopolitanism has given rise to new ways of writing, reading, translating and circulating texts; these processes have, in turn, led to new understandings of individual and national identity, new forms of ethics and new configurations of aesthetic and political engagement. From Kant to Derrida, cosmopolitanism has in the course of history been seen as fostering peace and communication across borders. Far from being uncontroversial, though, it has also been attacked by those who have denounced its universalism as impossible and its social ethos as elitist.
The papers gathered here were delivered at the conference Cosmopolis and Beyond, which was held at Trinity College, Oxford, in March 2016. The keynote addresses were given by Emily Apter (NYU) and Gisèle Sapiro (EHESS). The individual papers explore different literary manifestations of the cosmopolitan ideal, broadly conceived, and its influence on modern literary culture. They tease out elements of continuity and rupture in a long history of literary cosmopolitanism that goes from the decline of the Republic of Letters to the era of globalisation.

The conference was part of the AHRC-funded research project 'The Love of Strangers: Literary Cosmopolitanism in the English Fin de Siècle', led by Stefano Evangelista.

It was organised by Stefano Evangelista (conference organiser) and Clément Dessy (conference assistant).

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Conference Introduction Stefano Evangelista introduces the Cosmopolis & Beyond conference. Stefano Evangelista 22 Apr 2016
2 Translational Equaliberty: Language as Cosmopolitan Right in the Europe of Migrations (Keynote address) Emily Apter speaks about the right to a cosmopolitan citizenship, showing how questions of language and translation have acquired political urgency in the context of the global refugee crisis. Emily Apter 05 Apr 2016
3 The transnational Literary Field: Between (Inter)Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism (Keynote address) Gisèle Sapiro traces the emergence of a transnational literary field in the twentieth century by analysing the book market for translations. Gisèle Sapiro 05 Apr 2016
4 Brussels fin de siècle between Paris and London Clément Dessy examines the Anglophilia of literary and artistic symbolist groups in Brussels. Clement Dessy 05 Apr 2016
5 Virginia Woolf’s French Cloak, or, To the Lighthouse previews in Paris Caroline Patey analyses the strange anecdote of Virginia Woolf's first ever translation in French and the effect it had on her French reception. Caroline Patey 05 Apr 2016
6 Cosmopolitanism and Provincialism: Distant Intimacy and the Transatlantic Village Tale Josephine McDonagh shows under what circumstances the provincial may also be cosmopolitan by analysing Mary Russell Mitford's work and the case of the village tale. Josephine McDonagh 05 Apr 2016
7 Daily Rhythms, urban Rhythms: City Films of the 1920s Daily Rhythms, urban Rhythms: City Films of the 1920s Laura Marcus 05 Apr 2016
8 Who are (or were) the Cosmopolitans? Thoughts from multilingual India Who are (or were) the Cosmopolitans? Thoughts from multilingual India Francesca Orsini 05 Apr 2016
9 Cosmopolitanism and Empire Elleke Boehmer considers the cosmopolitan outlooks, experiences and values of Indian travellers to the west in the late 19th century. Elleke Boehmer 05 Apr 2016
10 Defamiliarizing India: Cosmopolitanism as a condition of aesthetic and political Survival Laetitia Zecchini discusses the cosmopolitanism of several post-independence Indian poets and artists. Laetitia Zecchini 05 Apr 2016
11 'Intellectual cosmopolitanism affirms itself in the land': Hermes and the Basque-English Network of the 1920s Leire Barrera-Medrano explores the Basque-English Modernist network surrounding the journal 'Hermes' which represents a prominent example of the connection between cosmopolitan localism, nationalist politics and modernist aesthetics. Leire Barrera-Medrano 05 Apr 2016
12 Cosmopolitan Conglomeration and Orientalist Appropriation in Oscar Wilde’s The Sphinx Katharina Herold examines the interplay of cosmopolitanism and orientalism in Wilde's poem 'The Sphinx'. Katharina Herold 05 Apr 2016
13 Make It… Foreign? The Cosmopolitan Aesthetics of Jaakooff Prelooker’s The Anglo-Russian Martina Ciceri explores the cosmopolitan aesthetics of Jaakoff Prelooker’s magazine 'The Anglo-Russian' in Late-Victorian England. Martina Ciceri 05 Apr 2016
14 The Relation of Fellow-Feeling to Sex: Laurence Housman and Queer Cosmopolitanism Kristin Mahoney’s paper on Laurence Housman asserts that Housman implemented a Decadent vision of queer desire in his activist work in support of the pacifist and Indian independence movements in the 1930s and 40s. Kristin Mahoney 06 Apr 2016
15 The “Unspeakable” T. W. H. Crosland Rebecca N. Mitchell discusses the anti-cosmopolitanism of litigious editor and literary gadfly T. W. H. Crosland. Rebecca Mitchell 06 Apr 2016
16 Une Femme m’apparut: Lesbian Desire and “French” Identity Sarah Parker focuses on the love affair between the Decadent poets Olive Custance and Renée Vivien and the American writer Natalie Barney, arguing that affecting ‘Frenchness’ and writing in French allowed them to articulate their desire for one another. Sarah Parker 06 Apr 2016
17 Literary Encounters fostered by Nineteenth-Century Francophone Press published in the United Kingdom Valentina Gosetti gives the first presentation in the seventh panel; Cosmopolitan Literary Exchange in the Transnational Press. Valentina Gosetti 06 Apr 2016
18 The Italian press in Egypt: Writing and Reading the Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism Alessandra Marchi examines the italian political press in Alexandria (Egypt), mainly at the beginning of the XX century. Alessandra Marchi 06 Apr 2016
19 Le Haiasdan, Arménie, Armenia: Language Choice and the Construction of an Armenian Diasporic Identity (1888-1905) Stéphanie Prévost discusses what publishing an Armenian periodical in Paris & London, in another language than Armenian meant for the construction of an Armenian identity at the time of the national awakening (Zartonk). Stéphanie Prévost 06 Apr 2016
20 Two English Women Periodicals Editors in Italy: Theodosia Garrow Trollope and Helen Zimmern as literary and cultural Go-betweens Isabelle Richet analyses two English-language periodicals published by British expatriates in Florence in the 19th century. Isabelle Richet 06 Apr 2016
21 Indifférence engagée: Elites, modernism and cosmopolitanism Francesca Billiani discusses cosmopolitism as practiced by the Italian cultural elites under the Fascist regime. Francesca Billiani 06 Apr 2016
22 Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism and Internationalism. Reflections from an example : France between the two world wars Guillaume Bridet assesses how Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism and Internationalism interact and differ in the French literary context during the interwar period. Guillaume Bridet 06 Apr 2016
23 An Ottoman Cosmopolitan in the Turkish Republic of Letters: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Nagihan Haliloğlu posits Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar as a pioneer of literary cosmopolitanism in Turkey, considering his lectures on literature, given in 1950’s at the Turkish Literature department, Istanbul University. Nagihan Haliloglu 06 Apr 2016
24 The International Culture of the Belle Époque: Media, Avant-Garde and Mass Culture in Europe (1880-1920) Julien Schuh examines the circulation of styles and ideas through periodicals in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. Julien Schuh 06 Apr 2016
25 The location of world literature: spaces of self-reflection Galin Tihanov seeks to locate the Anglo-Saxon discourse of ‘world literature’ vis-à-vis three major reference points: time, space, and language, and to examine the potential of literature to construct its own images of 'world literature'. Galin Tihanov 06 Apr 2016
26 21st-Century Literary Cosmopolitanism: Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s Global Village Arcana Albright examines the cosmopolitan dimension of contemporary Belgian author Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s oeuvre, in particular his literary website. Arcana Albright 06 Apr 2016
27 Queer Cosmopolitanism in the Expatriate Literature of Berlin Ben Robbins considers queer cosmopolitanism in the work of Anglophone writers who lived in Berlin during the era of the Weimar Republic. Ben Robbins 06 Apr 2016
28 Cosmopolitan Bodies and choral Anxieties in early twentieth-century Performances of Greek Drama Fiona Macintosh examines the anxieties in pre-WW1 Britain surrounding social and theatrical, and especially Greek-inspired, dance, which becomes increasingly associated with moral decadence and dangerous 'cosmopolitanism'. Fiona Macintosh 06 Apr 2016
29 “Guide to a Disturbed Planet”: Modernist travel and the Cosmopolitics of Hospitality in Rebecca West Annabel Williams explores the notion of hospitality in British modernist travel literature through the work of Rebecca West. Annabel Williams 06 Apr 2016