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Imagined Cosmopolis

Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s


Edited By Charlotte Ashby, Grace Brockington, Daniel Laqua and Sarah Victoria Turner

The period from the 1870s to the 1920s was marked by an interplay between nationalisms and internationalisms, culminating in the First World War, on the one hand, and the creation of the League of Nations, on the other. The arts were central to this debate, contributing both to the creation of national traditions and to the emergence of ideas, objects and networks that forged connections between nations or that enabled internationalists to imagine a different world order altogether. The essays presented here explore the ways in which the arts operated internationally during this crucial period of nation-making, and how they helped to challenge national conceptions of citizenship, society, homeland and native tongue. The collection arises from the AHRC-funded research network Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870–1920 (ICE; 2009–2014) and its enquiry into the histories of cultural internationalism and their historiographical implications.

This collection has been edited by members of the ICE network convened by Grace Brockington and Sarah Victoria Turner.

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Introduction: Art and Culture Beyond the Nation (Grace Brockington / Sarah Victoria Turner)


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Introduction Art and Culture Beyond the Nation

Let us start with a collage of material from this collection: the Japanese dancer Itō Michio weaving the shapes of Egyptian hieroglyphs into his choreography for ‘Irish-Noh’ theatre, Mme Boeufvre (the wife of the French consul of New Zealand) examining the Book of Kells in Dublin, the British artist Walter Sickert making the case for art as a common language, the German actress Rosa Behrens starring at the Deutsches Theater in London, the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler painting himself as a man awakened from sleep by the figure of Death, Anna and Patrick Geddes setting up an Arts and Crafts commune in Edinburgh Old Town, the Russian artist Leon Bakst echoing Aubrey Beardsley in his cover design for Mir Iskusstva, the wealthy Bostonian Charlotte Bowditch reporting that she felt much like a caged monkey on her travels in Japan, the Czech writer Svatopluk Čech imagining his anti-hero Matěj Brouček at the Prague Jubilee Exhibition of 1891, the Swedish artist Ida Ericson-Molard letting a room of her house in Paris to Gauguin, the Belgian intellectual Paul Otlet shifting the location of his cosmopolis from Belgium to Switzerland, the Dutch artist and critic Etha Fles reimaging the Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso as a French Impressionist, the British inventor Henry Cole tracing a universal history of the world through the design of the South Kensington Museum, Leonard and Virginia Woolf...

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