The Cosmopolitan Novel

The Cosmopolitan Novel

The Cosmopolitan Novel

The Cosmopolitan Novel

Synopsis

The novel is said to develop in time with the nation-state, but Berthold Schoene points instead to a new subgenre that is adept at imagining a global community. Schoene reads contemporary British writers-Rachel Cusk, Kiran Desai, Hari Kunzru, Jon McGregor, and David Mitchell- against established novelists, such as Arundhati Roy, James Kelman, and Ian McEwan. Each chapter explores a different theoretical concept, including "glocality," "glomicity," "tour du monde," "connectivity," and "compearance," altogether defining a new cosmopolitanism that responds to global socioeconomic formations.

Excerpt

Ever since Roland Robertson defined globalisation as ‘the compression of the world and the intensification of a consciousness of the world as a whole’ (1992: 8), sociological research on the increasing tightening of a global web of communal interaction and interdependency has proliferated massively, prompting an equally dramatic growth in cosmopolitan theory. Arguably affecting different spheres of life (economic vs. social/cultural), globalisation and cosmopolitanisation have come to be perceived as twin phenomena working to fix, as Zygmunt Bauman puts it, ‘the intractable fate of the world’ (1998: 1). Only recently have there been any notable efforts to theorise cosmopolitical models of agency and resistance, such as Ulrich Beck’s promotion of a ‘methodological cosmopolitanism’. in The Cosmopolitan Vision Beck calls on communities to unlearn their nationalist modes of self-identification and start contributing to global culture instead, always equipped with, as Beck specifies, ‘[their] own language and cultural symbols’ (2006: 21). Conceiving of responsible world citizenship as based on the paradox that ‘there are no others … [there are] many cultural others’ (Tomlinson 1999: 194), contemporary cosmopolitanism promotes a departure from traditional internationalist perspectives while stressing the significance of local cultures for the development of any meaningful and viable world-communal future.

According to Bauman, ‘we are all being “globalized”’ (1998: 1). Reduced to a state of powerlessness and passivity by a plethora of anonymous forces, initiative – both individual and collective – becomes mere wishful fantasy as the world is quite literally taken out of our hands and transported ‘beyond the reach of the design-and-action capacity of anybody in particular’ (60). Although some of us benefit considerably more than others from the current world-systemic dynamic of globalisation, which, as Jürgen Habermas asserts, works to split world society into ‘winner, beneficiary and loser countries’ (2006: 12) . . .

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