Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson’s Cosmopolis of Letters

  • Chiara Cillerai
Part of the The New Urban Atlantic book series (NUA)


This chapter considers the role cosmopolitanism has as a poetic trope and as an organizational principle in the context of poet Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson’s manuscript commonplace books. Cillerai shows that Fergusson’s writings present two coexisting kinds of cosmopolitanism. Fergusson’s cosmopolitanism reflects the social and cultural environment that formed her when she lived in colonial Philadelphia during the years preceding the American Revolution. As a thematic and structural component of her commonplace books composed in the years that follow the revolutionary war, cosmopolitanism helps her restore many of the socio-cultural ties the conflict severed. Cillerai argues that Fergusson’s books present cosmopolitanism as a force that resists nationalism as the latter deprived the poet of the freedoms colonialism and empire had afforded her. In a paradoxical turn, cosmopolitanism curbs the fear of dislocation brought about by national independence.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. John’s UniversityStaten IslandUSA

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