Conference focuses on the cultural and literary challenges of cosmopolitanism

Posted on: 05 February 2018

Literature that looks across national borders and the tensions between an international outlook and patriotism were among topics explored at a conference focusing on the cultural, literary and educational challenges of cosmopolitanism in Trinity College Dublin in on Thursday, February 1, 2018.

Bringing together academics and poets from Ireland, China and Hungary the symposium explored the idea of ‘cosmopolitanism’ from a literary and cultural perspective. Speakers explored literary engagements with cosmopolitanism, from medieval English poetry to modern authors such as Mark Twain, E. M. Forster, Mavis Gallant, Edna O’Brien and Roberto Bolaño.

The conference also heard presentations on cosmopolitanism and language, the tensions between cosmopolitanism and patriotism and whether teaching foreign literature challenge or reinforce students’ values and perspectives. The conference was followed by a poetry reading featuring both Irish and Chinese writers including Bao Huiyi, Harry Clifton, Paula Meehan, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Vincent Woods.

The event was organised by the School of English and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with the College of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Fudan University, Shanghai, China. The conference is the first part of a planned two-part symposium between Trinity and Fudan University and it builds upon the existing partnership between the two universities which aims to expand humanities research through international collaboration.

Cosmopolitanism as a cultural attitude sees a benefit in reaching across national borders and contexts, explained co-organiser of the conference Dr Miles Link, Research Associate, Department of English, Fudan University, Shanghai.

“Artists and academics working in the contemporary moment can look to other times when writers and thinkers, whether from historical circumstances or from conscious action, have found themselves making sense of a shared human experience across boundaries, rather than limiting themselves to national cultures and traditions. Cosmopolitanism promises a forward-thinking view of the world. This symposium examined the idea of cosmopolitanism as an attitude towards the contemporary world from several local, national and international viewpoints.”

Prof Darryl Jones, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences added: “Intellectual citizenship and artistic creation belong to no one country, but to the world.  This is a time of increasingly narrow nationalism, and so it’s important that one of the great European universities and one of the great Asian universities should be doing what universities do best, and working together to stress the importance of cosmopolitanism.  This is what we are for.”

About Trinity College Dublin and Fudan University

In 2014 Trinity College Dublin signed a strategic partnership with Fudan University, one of China’s top institutions. This Memorandum of Understanding and Student Exchange Agreement was signed by Trinity’s Vice President for Global Relations, Professor Juliette Hussey, and Fudan’s Professor Feng Xiaoyuan, Vice President for International Affairs in the presence of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins at Fudan University’s historic campus during a State visit to China.  The partnership includes a significant collaboration between the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Institute and the Fudan Development Institute and is an important mutual strategic step towards the expansion of Humanities research via international collaboration. The partnership with Fudan reflects Trinity’s commitment to deeper engagement with China, building on the existing links and complementary strengths of the partners, to provide educational programmes and opportunities for students and staff of both institutions.

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