9593 - Enlightenment & Postcolonial Cosmopolitanisms - M. H. McMurran
Enlightenment ideals have been subject to stringent critique as a universalist fantasy founded on strategic exclusions. Yet the recent revival of cosmopolitanism in the wake of globalization reveals that it is fundamentally indebted to the eighteenth-century.
If the contemporary economic, political, and cultural climate forces us to think and feel beyond the nation, it is crucial to investigate this new cosmopolitanism in light of its origins in the Enlightenment. Our course begins with eighteenth-century philosophical and literary elaborations of cosmopolitan ideals, foregrounding liberal democratic thought as articulated by Kant and his idea of a world polity in an age of nationalism, and investigating the figure of the “citizen of the world” as both a moral ideal and an estranged observer in narratives of wandering, homelessness, and cultural exchanges. We then turn to current revisions of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism. The segue from eighteenth- century to contemporary cosmopolitanisms is facilitated by current assessments of Kantian cosmopolitics and the legacy of his work in theorizing new global communities. Analogies between topoi such as travel between the metropolitan center and periphery, or constructions of alterity will also allow us to connect the two periods, encouraging us to read stereoscopically.
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