Rooted Cosmopolitanism and the Emergence of the Poet in Seamus Heaney’s North

The link goes to a short conference paper I’ve prepared for ACTC’s 23rd annual conference in Dallas, TX. I will be presenting the paper shortly at a panel entitled “Recovering from the Past through Poetry and Literature.” If you’re interested in reading, I’ve uploaded it here:

Rooted Cosmopolitanism and the Emergence of the Poet in Seamus Heaney’s North

Hope you enjoy. It’s a work in progress, and advice is welcome.


  1. Hi Ashok. Can you upload the paper? Cosmopolitanism is an ideological centerpiece of the disgusting tradition of western bankers, doctors, scholars etc using other races as a resource. I’m interested about what you have to say about it.

  2. That you want to understand cosmopolitanism through an Irish poet’s sympathetic dream of Nordic invaders tells me much about who you are now, though not necessarily about who you may become. Have you considered spending some time in India?

    My own experience of cosmopolitanism is best summed up by a line from a film, von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark: “Don’t.”

    1. Your criticism boils down to this: X [in this case “cosmopolitanism”] is evil. X is not a real value, but simply a way for a group that wants to take power to dupe others. Therefore anything that aids X is simply evil or ludicrous.

      With this “thinking,” characteristic of the worst sort of religious fundamentalism, you can horribly reduce what I’ve written to whatever you like it to be. People who actually care to follow the logic of the paper can see something very different from your snark. “Rooted cosmopolitanism” is an attempt to argue that love of the particular can translate into a more universal love. When one sees it at work in Heaney, one sees him struggling with his poetic task. He ultimately finds himself having to give voice to those who acted in utterly inhuman ways, to tell the truth about humanity’s inhumanity. Love of the particular, in this case, led to some harsh, bitter, perhaps universal truths. It also leads to a moral vision which is only appreciated in the sense of a homecoming – the “Two Poems in Dedication” only act as an end/beginning for the work if they are returned to, if the horrors the reader has witnessed in the text are somewhat present in the reader’s mind.

      None of this, of course, justifies imperialism. At this point, you could interject that the terms I’m using have been whitewashed. You could offer a number of recommended readings showing how “cosmopolitanism” has sneakily destroyed any moral legitimacy a number of texts have attempted to offer. You could say that “cosmopolitanism” has been used to outright justify imperialism, maybe even showing that occurring in occupied Ireland. You do none of this, instead choosing to tell me who I am.

      This is not a fair criticism, nor a constructive one. It is simply a personal attack. You have given me great feedback in the past. I look at this comment as exceptional.

  3. I’m not attacking you, but you are right that I am much more interested in you than in your work because, on the one hand, this type of work is quite simple to me, and on the other, there is not much time left for you to understand properly the situation you are in.

    Have you ever noticed the people around you speaking as if of a great insight about something which, according the articles published under their name, should be laughably simple?

    I’ll leave it at that, Ashok; a last hint, if you want to think of me at all as a kind of teacher. I’m sorry that you should find our last discussion disagreeable.

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