English, 2013 curriculum - Free topic 9: Cosmopolitanism and Literature

Course content

In this course we will explore different definitions and discussions of cosmopolitanism. This exploration will equip us with a conceptual and theoretical framework and provide us with a rich vocabulary that we will use as a critical perspective on a series of contemporary novels and short-stories (and a not-so-contemporary novella). We will be asking questions such as: Is cosmopolitanism an aesthetic or political category or, perhaps, both? Is cosmopolitanism an ethics that relies on conversation across difference? Is cosmopolitanism an idealistic rather than practical ‘project’? What does being a citizen of the world/cosmos really mean and is this possible in practice? What characterises a cosmopolitan world-view or ethos? Is cosmopolitanism elitist? What is the difference between banal and vernacular cosmopolitanism? How many ‘faces’ does cosmopolitanism have?  How do you identify and classify a cosmopolitan aesthetics? And what is the connection between cosmopolitanism and literature? Indeed, what is a cosmopolitan novel (or novella or short story)?

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.

Provisional reading list:

James Joyce, ’The Dead’, from The Dubliners (1914):

http://www.online-literature.com/james_joyce/958/; Michael Oondatje, The English Patient (1992);  Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (2006); Teju Cole, Open City (2011); Yvonne Owuor, ’Weight of Whispers’ (2003):  http://www.gallardo.net/gen-t/weight_of_whispers.pdf; Brian Chikwava, ’Seventh Street Alchemy’ (2003); stories from David Herd and Anna Pincus, eds, Refugee Tales (2016) and Olumide Popoola Annie Holmes, Breach (2016).

Ulrich Beck, ‘The Cosmopolitan Manifesto’

https://www.scribd.com/doc/110901757/Ulrich-Beck-The-Cosmopolitan-Manifesto-1998; Ulf Hannerz, ‘Two Faces of Cosmopolitanism: Culture and Politics’

3534-8892-1-PB(2).pdf ; Anthony Kwame Appiah, ‘Cosmopolitan Reading’;

Homi K. Bhabha, ‘Vernacular Cosmopolitanism’; Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (extracts); Paul Gilroy, Postcolonial Melancholia (extracts); Katherine Stanton, Cosmopolitan Fictions (extracts);

Berthold Schoene, The Cosmopolitan Novel (extracts); Bruce Robbins, Feeling Global (extracts)

Courseplans (including final reading lists and specific dates for deadlines) will be available at Absalon in August 2017.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment


  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 176,75
  • English
  • 204,75