Faculty Bookshelf

Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation

  • Published Date: Columbia University Press, 2006; paperback, 2007

Rebecca L. Walkowitz

altCosmopolitan Style argues that modernist literary style has been crucial to new ways of thinking and acting beyond the nation. Walkowitz suggests that conceiving of style expansively as attitude, stance, posture, and consciousness helps to explain many other, nonliterary formations of cosmopolitanism in history, anthropology, sociology, transcultural studies, and media studies. This book shows that the novels of James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, and W. G. Sebald use the salient features of literary modernism to explore different versions of transnational thought, question moral and political norms, and renovate the meanings of national culture and international attachment. It illustrates how Joyce, Conrad, and Woolf developed a repertoire of narrative strategies at the beginning of the twentieth century that were transformed by Rushdie, Ishiguro, and Sebald at the end. A broad-ranging and ambitious intervention in the debates over the politics, ethics, and aesthetics of cosmopolitanism, Cosmopolitan Style brings to the forefront the artful idiosyncrasies and political ambiguities of twentieth-century modernist fiction. Read an excerpt from Cosmopolitan Style.