Book Cover

Missionary Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century British Literature

Winter Jade Werner

232 pp. 6 x 9
Pub Date:  May, 2020

Subjects: Literary Studies British & Irish
Victorian Studies

Series: Literature, Religion, and Postsecular Studies

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“Werner’s work offers a valuable new perspective on enduring debates about, and histories of, cosmopolitanism, as well as a rich overview of missionary discourse, ideologies, and practices during the age of empire and beyond.” —Tanya Agathocleous

“This book will prove stimulating not only to scholars of Victorian literature but also to cultural historians and anthropologists interested in the relationship between religion, globalization, and secularism.” —Sebastian Lecourt

Missionary Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century British Literature explores the notion that missionaries, often perceived as only evangelically motivated in the British imperial project, were also spurred on by cosmopolitan ideals. Winter Jade Werner makes this surprising connection in order to write against standard understandings of missionary work as well as typical understandings of cosmopolitanism as a deeply secular project.

Missionary Cosmopolitanism identifies the nineteenth-century novel as thematically and formally attuned to the tension between missionaries’ cosmopolitan values and the moral impoverishment of their imperialist and expansionist practices. Werner’s chapters interact with canonical works such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, along with lesser-known works by Robert Southey and Sydney Owenson. Ultimately, Missionary Cosmopolitanism demonstrates that nineteenth-century literature both illustrated and helped define missionary discourses regarding cosmopolitan ideas, showing how global evangelicalism continues to tap into the “new cosmopolitanisms” of today.

Winter Jade Werner is Assistant Professor at Wheaton College. She is the coeditor of Constructing Nineteenth-Century Religion: Literary, "Historical", and Religious Studies in Dialogue(OSU Press, 2019)



Introduction    The Only True Cosmopolite

Chapter 1        The Cosmopolitan Idea in Early Nineteenth-Century Missionary Societies

Chapter 2        Robert Southey and the Case for Christian Colonialism

Chapter 3        Universal Kinship and Jane Eyre

Chapter 4        The Missionary, Luxima, and the Forging of a Post-“Mutiny” Cosmopolitanism

Coda    The Afterlives of Missionary Cosmopolitanism

Works Cited