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Cosmopolitan Minds: Literature, Emotion, and the Transnational Imagination

by Alexa Weik von Mossner
Format
Book
Published
Austin : University of Texas Press, 2014.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Variant Title
Literature, emotion, and the transnational imagination
Series
Cognitive Approaches to Literature and Culture Series
ISBN
9780292739086, 0292739087
Summary
"During World War II and the early Cold War period, factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or class made a number of American writers feel marginalized in U.S. society. Cosmopolitan Minds focuses on a core of transnational writers -- Kay Boyle, Pearl S. Buck, William Gardner Smith, Richard Wright, and Paul Bowles -- who found themselves prompted to seek experiences outside of their home country, experiences that profoundly changed their self-understanding and creative imagination as they encountered alternative points of views and cultural practices in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Alexa Weik von Mossner offers a new perspective on the affective underpinnings of critical and reflexive cosmopolitanism by drawing on theories of emotion and literary imagination from cognitive psychology, philosophy, and cognitive literary studies. She analyzes how physical dislocation, and the sometimes violent shifts in understanding that result from our affective encounters with others, led Boyle, Buck, Smith, Wright, and Bowles to develop new, cosmopolitan solidarities across national, ethnic, and religious boundaries. She also shows how, in their literary texts, these writers employed strategic empathy to provoke strong emotions such as love, sympathy, compassion, fear, anger, guilt, shame, and disgust in their readers in order to challenge their parochial worldviews and practices. Reading these texts as emotionally powerful indictments of institutionalized racism and national violence inside and outside of the United States, Weik von Mossner demonstrates that our emotional engagements with others -- real and imagined -- are crucially important for the development of transnational and cosmopolitan imaginations" --
"The book explores the role of empathy and emotion in the emergence of cosmopolitan imaginations through the works of a diverse set of American writers who during World War II and the early Cold War period lived in Europe, Asia, and Africa. It draws on theories of emotion and literary imagination from cognitive psychology, philosophy, and cognitive literary studies to offer a new perspective on the affective and imaginative underpinnings of critical and reflexive cosmopolitanism. It argues that our emotional engagements with others -- real and imagined -- are crucially important for the development of cosmopolitan imaginations. The book concentrates on specifically American cosmopolitan imaginations in the mid-twentieth century, focusing on a core of transnational writers who, for various reasons, had highly conflicted relationships with the American nation: Kay Boyle, Pearl S. Buck, Richard Wright, William Gardner Smith, and Paul Bowles. Their literary works are emotionally powerful indictments of institutionalized racism and national violence inside and outside of the United States; at the same time, they testify to the complex cosmopolitan identities of their authors. Reading these texts as affective cosmopolitan critiques, the book works out important and complex role played by imaginative and emotional engagements in the development of solidarities that go beyond self, family, community, and nation. Reading transnational American literature from a cognitive perspective, the book adds a new dimension to recent work in American literary history that seeks to reconceptualize U.S. literary and cultural production in its global context. At the same time, it also widens and deepens the array of literature available to researchers in cognitive literary studies" --
Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction : Literature, Emotion, and the Cosmopolitan Imagination
  • 1. Empathetic Cosmopolitanism : Kay Boyle and the Precariousness of Human Rights
  • 2. Sentimental Cosmopolitanism : The Transcultural Feelings of Pearl S. Buck
  • 3. Cosmopolitan Sensitivities : Bystander Guilt and Interracial Solidarity in the Work of William Gardner Smith
  • 4. Cosmopolitan Contradictions : Fear, Anger, and the Transgressive Heroes of Richard Wright
  • 5. The Limits of Cosmopolitanism : Disgust and Intercultural Horror in the Fiction of Paul Bowles
  • Conclusion: (Eco-)Cosmopolitan Feelings?
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index.
Description
x, 236 pages ; 24 cm.
Notes
Includes bibliographical references (pages 209-225) and index.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View

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    a| Acknowledgments -- Introduction : Literature, Emotion, and the Cosmopolitan Imagination -- 1. Empathetic Cosmopolitanism : Kay Boyle and the Precariousness of Human Rights -- 2. Sentimental Cosmopolitanism : The Transcultural Feelings of Pearl S. Buck -- 3. Cosmopolitan Sensitivities : Bystander Guilt and Interracial Solidarity in the Work of William Gardner Smith -- 4. Cosmopolitan Contradictions : Fear, Anger, and the Transgressive Heroes of Richard Wright -- 5. The Limits of Cosmopolitanism : Disgust and Intercultural Horror in the Fiction of Paul Bowles -- Conclusion: (Eco-)Cosmopolitan Feelings? -- Notes -- Bibliography -- Index.
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    a| American fiction y| 20th century x| History and criticism.
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