The Cosmopolitan Lyceum
Lecture Culture and the Globe in Nineteenth-Century America
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Many of the experts working on this field, across a range of academic disciplines, were able to come together at a special two-day conference at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, in September 2011. This book has emerged from the lively exchange of ideas that took place at that event, which was kindly supported by the Antiquarian Society and the University of...
Tom F. Wright
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During the nineteenth century, the word cosmopolitan evolved from a noun to an adjective. Attempting to establish where and when the shift occurred, the Oxford English Dictionary cites a Boston lecture hall and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1844 talk titled “The Young American.”1 In that speech the word appears at the head of a moment of prophetic...
Part I: Cultivating Cosmopolitanism
1. How Cosmopolitan was the Lyceum, Anyway?
Angela G. Ray
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In 1980, historian Donald M. Scott wrote in the Journal of American History that the lyceum lecture system in the mid-nineteenth-century United States “not only expressed a national culture; it was one of the central institutions within and by which the public had its existence.”1 Drawing on the scholarship of Scott and others, as well as my own investigation of...
2. Women Thinking: The International Popular Lecture and its Audience in Antebellum New England
Ronald J. Zboray, Mary Saracino Zboray
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On the evening of December 11, 1838, Bostonian Annie Lawrence walked over to the Masonic Temple in the bustling city center to hear the first in a course of lectures on the “domestic manners and habits of the Turks.”1 It was to be given by Christopher Hatchik Oscanyan, a New York University student who was a recent Armenian immigrant from the Ottoman...
3. Bringing Music to the Lyceumites: The Bureaus and the Transformation of Lyceum Entertainment
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The sale of season tickets for the Worcester Lyceum Course was particularly lively the weekend of October 17, 1874. The first local residents began lining up outside the box office at Mechanics Hall at seven o’clock the evening before the sale began, and their numbers totaled twenty-five by midnight. The course for 1874–75 was slated to open with Camilla Urso’s...
Part II: Cosmopolitan Authorship
4. Mr. Emerson’s Playful Lyceum: Polyvocal Promotion on the Lecture Circuit
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On a bitterly cold January evening in DeWitt, Iowa, in 1866, Ralph Waldo Emerson, a veteran lecturer on the lyceum circuit with some thirty-three years of experience under his belt, stood at the rostrum and began skipping wildly over the pages of his manuscript, glancing every so often at his watch. The reason was simple: he had double-booked himself. Emerson’s...
5. With Press and Paddle: William H. H. Murray’s “Adirondack” Lectures and the Making of a Wilderness Guide
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On May 10, 1870, standing before a thousand of Boston’s curiosity seekers, learned men, and armchair travelers, renowned pastor, gamesman, writer, and soon-to-be popular lecturer William Henry Harrison Murray offered himself as a guide to the Adirondacks, a wild mountainous region still foreign to many but only a day trip away. His lecture drew...
6. William James’s “True American Theory”: The Varieties of Religious Experience and Transatlantic Intellectual Culture
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William James should have been the first American to deliver Scotland’s prestigious Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology. He was, after all, the first American invited to deliver them. But a variety of factors—health problems, time constraints, anxiety about finding the right message for this intellectually imposing venue—prevented James from delivering...
Part III: Internationalism or Imperialism?
7. “Barnum is undone in his own province”: Science, Race, and Entertainment in the Lectures of George Robins Gliddon
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In the spring of 1850, the Hartford Daily Courant informed its readers that George Gliddon, former American vice consul to Egypt, renowned scholar, and collector of Egyptian antiquities, planned to unwrap an Egyptian mummy at Boston’s Tremont Temple. The notice ended with the following comment: “Barnum is undone in his own province, and unless he...
8. The Lyceum as Contact Zone: Bayard Taylor’s Lectures on Foreign Travel
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One of the fundamental questions that divided Americans from the early postcolonial period through the antebellum era was a debate about the foundation and formation of cultural life in the young nation. This ongoing debate played out and heightened a schematic division between two sharply opposed conceptions of the process of nation...
9. The Peripatetic Career of Wherahiko Rawei: Maori Culture on the Global Chautauqua Circuit, 1893–1927
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Historians of cultural pathways in the nineteenth-century “English-speaking world” have mostly examined the separate connections between Britain and its colonies and Britain and the United States. Within the British Empire strong cultural ties—seen by many historians as being exported from the metropole to the colony—went hand in hand with formal...
Conclusion: Cosmopolitan Medium
10. Humanist Enterprise in the Marketplace of Culture
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In the early twenty-first century, we are witnessing the evolution of genres of discourse that, as with previous eras of “new” technologies of communication, reconfigure the relations between writing and speech in ways that seem to bend once finite boundaries of received forms of knowledge. Books with covers become e-books on screens; practices of writing...
About the Contributors
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Robert Arbour is a doctoral candidate in the English department at Indiana University, where he studies nineteenth-century American literature. His dissertation is titled “A Sentimental War: American Poetry and the Civil War” and tracks changes in sentimental poetry as a nationalizing mode during and after the American Civil War. He has published essays...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 5 illus.
Publication Year: 2013