Maria DiBattista will be presenting her paper, ‘Native Cosmopolitanism’ at 5.15pm on Tuesday, 7 December 2010. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.
The contemporary fascination with cosmopolitanism as a moral and political ideal is one response to the widespread, seemingly irreversible changes in the way human beings think about their relation to their family, tribe, community, country. What we can discern behind the headlines, in the marketplaces, and through the literature of the present day is that the era of identity politics is waning and the age of ‘global’ character is struggling to be born. What form it will take is a riddle the novel can help solve. The novel has more and more been absorbed in chronicling the emergence of a new social type that DiBattista calls native cosmopolitans. Their growing prominence, which has aroused the curiosity, anxiety and imagination of novelists like V. S. Naipaul, J. M.Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Edwige Danticat, represents a new form and hope for character: formed in the enduring ethos of local traditions and habits, but marked (stunned, traumatized, exhilarated) by the consciousness that one is more connected to, yet less at home in the global cities in which their destinies are often decided.
About the speaker
Maria DiBattista, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton University, has written widely on the modern novel and film. Her literary interests range across genres, high and low, and among writers as distinctly themselves as Joyce and Daphne du Maurier. Her books include Fast Talking Dames (2001), a study of American film comedy of the thirties and forties and Virginia Woolf: An Experiment in Critical Biography (2008). Her most recent book, Novel Characters: A Genealogy, appeared this autumn.