Past Workshops

Cosmopolitan Cultures / Cosmopolitan Histories

The past two decades have witnessed a large-scale renovation and reinvigoration of the theory of cosmopolitanism, shifting broadly from accounts of cosmopolitan cultures based on modernization theory and modernist aesthetics to accounts based on political theory, ideological analysis, and critiques of the theory and practice of globalization. One of the far-reaching effects of recent scholarly work has been the generation of multiple, competing perspectives on this phenomenon, as against older attempts to formulate a unified master-theory of cosmopolitanism. This postmodernist and poststructuralist fragmentation has begun to alter our understanding of the history of cosmopolitan literatures, cultures, and social practices, as also of the relation of cosmopolitanism to issues of race, gender, sexuality, and identity, besides issues of labor, economics, colonialism, nationalism, and national and international law.
The Mellon Workshop on Cosmopolitan Cultures, Cosmopolitan Histories was launched in 2005-06 primarily as a forum for intensive new reading and critical discussion among faculty and graduate students across disciplines. The workshop held six meetings, with readings from Immanuel Kant and Jacques Derrida; from Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins' Cosmopolitics (1998) and K. Anthony Appiah's Cosmopolitanism (2006); and from two UW-Madison faculty publications, Vinay Dharwadker's Cosmopolitan Geographies (2001) and Rebecca Walkowitz's Cosmopolitan Style (2006). The Workshop also collaborated with the Department of German, the German Department Graduate Student Association, and the Center for German and European Studies at UW-Madison, to sponsor a talk on contemporary Turkish-German literature by Leslie Adelson (Cornell University).

In 2006-07, the Workshop will meet for wide-ranging, interdisciplinary discussions of new readings on the theory and practice of cosmopolitanism, circulated in advance; and of draft papers and work-in-progress by several campus participants. It will also organize a conference on its central themes in the Spring, with papers by leading scholars from around the country, as well as by UW-Madison faculty and students. Our tentative schedule is given below. All the regular meetings of the Workshop will be held on Friday afternoons, from 2:00 to 5:00, at the Pyle Center or in Lowell Hall on campus; the details for each meeting will be available by early October. The times and locations of events associated with the Spring conference will be announced later in the Fall.