Research

My fields of interest include the novel, in its many sub-genres and variations, and its relationship with the philosophical thought of the Enlightenment. Persisting interest in Jane Austen’s work has helped me familiarize myself with the women’s writing of the long 18th and 19th century as well as theories of criticism. In my research, I have often found myself pondering the legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment as well as Rousseau’s influence on British writers. A part from their contemporaneous impact, I take particular interest in modifications that these branches of Enlightenment philosophy underwent in the works of what we retrospectively call the Romantic era and how they continue to be discussed, reconfigured and applied in contemporary theories of human society.

At the moment, I am preparing a critical guide to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion that traces crucial studies, reviews, essays and articles, giving instructors and students a comprehensive understanding of the most influential criticism produced since these novels’ publication in 1818. The guide will appear in Palgrave’s well-established Essential Criticism series that to date runs to sixty-eight volumes, on subjects ranging from medieval to twenty-first-century fiction, drama and poetry. For more detailed information refer to Palgrave’s website: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/readers-guides-to-essential-criticism-nicolas-tredell/?K=9780230200401

My second monograph, a work in progress, is concerned with cosmopolitan attitudes in literary works of the British Enlightenment and investigates the extent to which being a citizen of the world draws on utopian imagination. The project assembles works published between the 1600s and the 1800s that engage with interracial encounters in a utopian as well as in a not specifically utopian narrative frame. My starting hypothesis is that the indebtedness of cosmopolitanism to utopian thought crystallizes in the very efforts to create scenarios through a parochial lens (essential to literature) that gesture toward a cosmopolitan view. This parochial lens enables literature to perceive from the particularity of the local the multiplicity of the global. However, unlike utopian imagination, which attempts to accommodate individual demands within the boundaries of communitarian discourse, cosmopolitanism seeks to balance racial distinctiveness and national interests with universal world citizenship. I hope to demonstrate that this balance is put to the test by the interracial romance, and to a greater extent, by its hybrid offspring, which embodies the double-edged potential of cosmopolitics to amalgamate and fracture the world. The project’s provisional title is “Sharing Wor(l)ds: Cosmopolitanism and Utopian Vision.”