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Cosmopolitan Minds

Literature, Emotion, and the Transnational Imagination

By Alexa Weik von Mossner

Publication Year: 2014

Reading transnational American literature from a cognitive perspective, this book argues that our emotional engagements with others—real and imagined—are crucially important for the development of cosmopolitan imaginations.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Cognitive Approaches to Literature and Culture Series


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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. ix-xii

This project would not have been possible at all without the generous help of a great number of people inside and outside of academia. I would like to thank Ira Allen, Thomas Austenfeld, Frank Biess, Boris Bugla, Ursula Heise, Marcel Hénaff, Nicole King, Lisa Lowe, Anne...

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Introduction. Literature, Emotion, and the Cosmopolitan Imagination

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pp. 1-28

On May 25, 1948, former Broadway actor and war veteran Garry Davis walked into the United States embassy in Paris and handed the authorities his American passport. He no longer had any use for identification papers, he declared to the perplexed officials, because from now...

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1. Emapthetic Cosmopolitanism: Kay Boyle and the Precariousness of Human Rights

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pp. 29-57

The year 1939 was an important point in the history of Europe and the world. It was the year in which Germany and the Soviet Union concluded a nonaggression pact, the year in which Hitler’s armies invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland, and the year in which France, Britain...

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2. Sentimental Cosmopolitanism: The Transcultural Feelings of Pearl S. Buck

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pp. 58-88

When Pearl Sydenstricker Buck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938 for her evocative books about China, the majority of the American literary establishment was vaguely shocked. Given the fact that Buck was only the third American writer and the first American woman...

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3. Cosmopolitan Sensitivities: Bystander Guilt and Interracial Solidarity in the Work of William Gardner Smith

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pp. 89-119

In 1952, William Gardner Smith welcomed the chief editor of an American magazine into his shabby quarters at the Hôtel Tournon, which at the time was a popular haunt of black American expatriates in Paris. In his autobiographical Return to Black America (1970), Smith recalls this...

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4. Cosmopolitan Contradictions: Fear, Anger, and the Transgressive Heroes of Richard Wright

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pp. 120-150

“I’m a rootless man,” Richard Wright declares boldly in White Man Listen! (1957), “but I’m neither psychologically distraught nor in any wise particularly perturbed because of it” (xxxviii). With this audacious statement, Wright claims for himself, and decidedly embraces, the status...

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5. The Limits of Cosmopolitanism: Disgust and Intercultural Horror in the Fiction of Paul Bowles

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pp. 151-180

Paul Bowles was only nineteen years old when he ran away from home and sailed to Europe in 1929. He first went to Paris and then, following the advice of Gertrude Stein, to North Africa, where he traveled throughout Morocco, the Sahara, Algeria, and Tunisia. The natural and...

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Conclusion. (Eco-)Cosmopolitan Feelings?

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pp. 181-186

In the preceding chapters, I have tried to analyze from a cognitive perspective some of the ways in which cosmopolitan literary texts encourage readers to feel with others across national, ethnic, and religious boundaries. While the narrative emplotment of cosmopolitanism can be...


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pp. 187-208


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pp. 209-226


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pp. 227-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780292757646
E-ISBN-10: 0292757646
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292739086
Print-ISBN-10: 0292739087

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: none
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Cognitive Approaches to Literature and Culture Series
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OCLC Number: 885127994
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Cosmopolitan Minds

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Cosmopolitanism in literature.
  • Empathy in literature.
  • Cognition in literature.
  • Human rights in literature.
  • Transnationalism in literature.
  • Expatriate authors -- Psychology.
  • Expatriate authors -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Authors, American -- 20th century -- Political and social views.
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