October

3

2017

CGED Research Seminar Series

Colonial Cosmopolitanism: Constance Cumming and Isabella Bird in Hong Kong, 1878

Colonial Cosmopolitanism: Constance Cumming and Isabella Bird in Hong Kong, 1878

Speaker: Professor Julia Kuehn, School of English


Respondent: Professor Kendall Johnson, School of Modern Languages and CUltures


Date: 3 October 2017 (Tuesday)

Time: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Venue: Room 436, Run Run Shaw Tower


Over the past fifteen years, theories of cosmopolitanism have been frequently invoked in mobility studies; espeacially in analyses of contemporary texts, authors and journeys but also in Victorian Studies. It is, howver, necessary to contextualise anu form of Victorian cosmopolitanism because the Victorian age also saw the rise of nationalism and the heyday of Empire; concepts that are opposed to cosmopolitanism's assumption of equal rights for all nations. This talk addresses the cognitive dissonance between these two ways of conceptualising and travelling the world, cosmopolitanism and colonialism, and asks whether an approach to Victorian, colonial travel writing through a cosmopolitan lens is an appropriate one. The situation is further complicated when we highlight the contributions of especially women to these discourses and as actors in this kind of mobility. The colonial setting for this talk is Hong Kong, whose important position not only within the British Empire but the Asisan region and the world at large was well acknowlegded at the time. The two travelogues from which questions about a (female) colonial cosmopolitanism are elaborated are Constance Gordon Cumming's Wanderings in China (1886) and Isabella Bird's The Golden Cheronese (1883).


Julia Kuehn has postgraduate degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Bonn and London, and also completed the Habilitation at the University of Bamberg. Her research interests lie in Victorian literature and culture, travel writing (related to China) and critical theory. She has published in international journals including Victorian Literature and Culture, Victorian Review, Studies in Trvale Writing, The Journal of Popular Culture, and Frontiers: A Jounrnal of Women Writing. Julian's current projects include a study of representations of HongKong in Victorian travel writing and a comparative study of nineteenth-century German and British realist prose.

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