J.M. Coetzee and the Limits of Cosmopolitan Feeling
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In this dissertation, I argue that accounts of cosmopolitan literature tend to equate cosmopolitanism with sympathetic feeling. I further contend that sympathy is in fact implicitly central to a wider body of contemporary cosmopolitan theory. I distinguish between two strains of cosmopolitan thought that depend upon two distinct models of feeling: “critical cosmopolitanism,” which depends upon a cognitive-evaluative model of sympathy, and “affective cosmopolitanism,” which depends upon a relational model. Both branches of cosmopolitanism envision sympathy as perfectly human or humane; they gloss over the potential for feeling shame in cosmopolitan encounters. The minority of scholarship that does consider shame in relation to cosmopolitan practice also reifies shame as ideally human or humane. Whether through sympathy or shame, cosmopolitan subjects become cosmopolitan through feeling. I offer readings of J.M. Coetzee’s later fiction in order to critique the idealization of feeling as distinctly cosmopolitan. Coetzee’s work, I conclude, suggests another model for cosmopolitanism, one which foregrounds the limits of feeling for realizing mutuality and equality.