Cosmopolitan Parables

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3527-7

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3526-0

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3525-3
Publication Date
August 2017
Page Count
248 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Cosmopolitan Parables

Trauma and Responsibility in Contemporary Germany
David D. Kim

Cosmopolitan Parables explores the global rise of the heavily debated concept of cosmopolitanism from a unique German literary perspective. Since the early 1990s, the notion of cosmopolitanism has acquired a new salience because of an alarming rise in nationalism, xenophobia, migration, international war, and genocide. This uprising has transformed how artists and scholars within every geopolitical context assess the power of an international civil society, resulting in a moral obligation to unite regardless of cultural background, religious affiliation, or national citizenship. It rejuvenates an ancient yet timely framework within which contemporary political crises are to be overcome, especially after the collapse of communist states and the intersection of postwar and postcolonial trajectories. To exemplify this global challenge, Kim examines three internationally acclaimed writers of German origin—Hans Christoph Buch, Michael Krüger, and W. G. Sebald—joined by their own harrowing experiences and stunning entanglements of Holocaust memory, postcolonial responsibility, and communist legacy.

This bold new study is the first of its kind, interrogating transnational memories of trauma alongside globally shared responsibilities for justice. More important, it addresses the question of remembrance—whether the colonial past or the postwar legacy serves as a proper foundation upon which cosmopolitanism is to be pursued in today's era of globalization.
About the Author

DAVID D. KIM is an assistant professor of German at UCLA.

"This book addresses an important and timely subject: the question of world citizenship in the wake of the various shifts in power after 1989. Time and again, cultural critics of the late twentieth century returned to the German events as events of world-historical significance that have shaped the way they make us think about common humanity. And yet, there is no in-depth study of how this looks from a German literary perspective. This shift of the debate to German history and German literature makes Kim’s book a worthwhile addition to the widespread debates around cosmopolitanism.” 
—John K. Noyes, author of Herder: Aesthetics against Imperialism

"Cosmopolitan Parables is an insightful exploration of the idea of cosmopolitanism, specifically in the works of select German-language writers. Kim provides detailed information on the authors and their literary production, and then proceeds to offer passionate and deeply thoughtful analyses of select texts with regard to the main focus of the study. This is an original contribution to a critical debate in the humanities." —Nina Berman, author of German Literature on the Middle East: Discourses and Practices, 1000-1989

“At a time when rampant nationalism casts its dark shadow on societies, creating a worldwide resurgence of hate, exclusion, and discrimination, David Kim underlines the significance to bond with those to whom we are not connected through blood or soil. He offers a timely and multifaceted examination of the concept and practice of cosmopolitanism. Meticulously researched and consistently political, this book offers some of the finest readings of contemporary German literature, by wresting it out of its pedantic national canon and subjecting it to scrutiny in the larger world literary space.”  —B. Venkat Mani, author of Cosmopolitical Claims and Recoding World Literature