© 2008

The Boston Cosmopolitans

International Travel and American Arts and Letters, 1865–1915

  • Authors

About this book


This book traces the progression of cosmopolitanism from the private experience of a group of artists and intellectuals who lived and worked in Boston between 1865 and 1915 to finished works of monumental art that shaped public space.


America architecture art creativity English literature experience George Eliot literature poetry public space space

About the authors

Mark Rennella is a business researcher at BSG Concours in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic information


"At a moment when the United States is more globally engaged yet culturally provincial than ever, The Boston Cosmopolitans comes as a welcome reminder of a time when influential Americans embraced the wider world with genuine curiosity and an openness to the diversity of human experience. Mark Rennella takes us on a Cook's tour of the cosmopolitan culture fashioned by Henry and William James, William Dean Howells, Henry Hobson Richardson, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and their fellow travelers, journeying with them to foreign lands in quest of wider horizons and artistic inspiration, and returning home to assay their remarkable achievements in literature, architecture, and art. With a generous sympathy for his subjects, Rennella challenges easy dismissals of them as outdated elitists and finds in their high idealism, passion for excellence, and appreciation of cultural variety an essential model for our own embattled times. In an age of tightening borders and culture wars, this persuasive argument for international cosmopolitanism is urgently needed." - Robert A. Gross, James L. and Shirley A. Draper Professor of Early American History, University of Connecticut"Mark Rennella's book is an innovative study of diverse Bostonian cultural actors that places their complex journeys to literary and artistic individuality within the intricate dynamics of the Atlantic world. It thus takes seriously the manifold links between literature and art, travel, and the emboldening, often elusive, dream of cosmopolitanism, while also enhancing our awareness of the need to study - always! - American endeavors in the interactive framework of world history." - Hollis Clayson, Northwestern University"In this deeply probing book Mark Rennella clarifies and subtly distinguishes among concepts that historians and literary critics for over a century have used far too carelessly: exiles, expatriates, cosmopolitans and, more recently, transnationals. Hardly a merely lexical question, identifying the right definition helps, on the one hand, to put into the appropriate political, social, and cultural perspective the context from which the 'Boston Cosmopolitan' artists and intellectuals emerged, and, on the other, to understand what, in our own multicultural era, is happening around us. Beyond definitions and concepts, Rennella conveys the full sweep of cosmopolitan culture with a focus upon the east coast of Massachusetts, but with implications for the United States as a whole. This brilliant book is long overdue." - Cristina Giorcelli, Chair of the American Studies Department and Coordinator of the Doctoral Program, University of Rome Three