• Mathilde Blind’s Contribution to Victorian Cosmopolitanism

    Ulrike Hill (see profile)
    GS Poetry and Poetics, GS Travel Writing, LLC Hungarian, TC Digital Humanities, TC Religion and Literature, TC Science and Literature
    Aesthetics, Culture--Study and teaching, English literature, Ethics, Spirituality
    Item Type:
    intellectual history, literary history, poetic form, poetry, Cultural studies
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    Blind’s autonomous cosmopolitanism is in four distinct layers. The first layer is her unusual everyday family background in the transition from Jewish tradition to the life of European revolutionaries in the 1840s and exile in Britain. The second layer is Blind’s mental and moral development under Friederike’s care and educational guidance according to the German concept of Bildung. The third layer comes from Mazzini’s challenge for Blind to critically evaluate her German cultural heritage and the moral danger in the well-intended German concept of self-cultivation. Blind derives the fourth layer of her autonomous cosmopolitanism from Darwin’s theory of evolution and Buckle’s argument for a scientific approach to history. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection postulates sexual autonomy of the individual organism as a pre-condition for evolution by natural selection. Buckle’s argument for a scientific approach to the study of history extends this concept by observing that the variety of geographical conditions around the globe gives rise to a diversity of cultures. The concept of social evolution is then anchored in the nature of interdependence between the individual and her society as it changes over time. Overall, my argument is that Blind’s contribution to Victorian cosmopolitanism is to write about controversial subjects and to transcend ideological polarizations. She does this by transferring socio-political topics from the public domain into the intimacy of making “an immediate sensuous contact” with the individual reader. Her aim is to touch her reader’s heart and to trust in her reader’s ability and social will to care rather than to teach her about the individual poet’s particular ideas of what should be done to solve problems.
    The item is also available at: Open Research Exeter (ORE): http://hdl.handle.net/10871/17535 Research Gate: DOI No.: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2129.9365


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