Cosmopolitan affinities [microform]



Title Cosmopolitan affinities [microform]: The question of the nation in Edgeworth, Byron, and Maturin
Author(s) Esther Wohlgemut
Date 2000
Publisher University of Ottawa, 1999
Place published Ottawa: National Library of Canada, [2000]
Abstract This dissertation is a study of cosmopolitanism in early nineteenth-century Britain, and it approaches cosmopolitanism as an alternative and often overlooked approach to the question of nation in the early nineteenth century. Building out of enlightenment political philosophies such as that of Kant, cosmopolitanism does not mean the absence of national attachment and national limitations but rather involves the co-existence of national demarcations and universal belonging, and in early nineteenth century Britain, it appears alongside romantic nationalism in the struggle to represent the nation. I am interested in how cosmopolitanism in this period offers a non-unified formulation of the nation that stands in contrast to more unified models such as Edmund Burke's which found nationality in, among other things, language, history, blood and geography. The dissertation traces this alternative formulation not only in representative fictions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century (e.g. Edgeworth's Irish tales, Byron's 'Childe Harold' and 'Don Juan', Maturin's 'Melmoth the Wanderer') but also in British political thought of the period (e.g. Smith's 'Wealth of Nations', Price's ' Discourse on the love of our country', and the discourse of the ' Edinburgh Review'). Each chapter examines a different romantic inflection of cosmopolitan ideals and is intended to establish continuities between enlightenment philosophy and the idea of the nation as it unfolds within the British context. The question of balance between trans-national disinterest and national interest is a fundamental one for each of the writers studied in the dissertation, and it has also become paramount in our contemporary struggle to create alternative, non-unified ways of thinking about nationness. The dissertation thus intersects with present debate over the relationship between cosmopolitanism and nationalism, drawing on notions such as Bruce Robbin's 'situatedness-in-displacement,' Julia Kristeva's 'nations without nationalism,' Edward Said's 'critical thinking,' and James Clifford's 'pilgrimage.'

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