Colonial Cosmopolitanism? Resistance, Aesthetics and Modernism in Patrick Anderson’s Prose

  • Emily Bryna Elizabeth Ballantyne Dalhousie University


In this article, I contend with the claim that Patrick Anderson exemplifies the failure of Canadian modernist cosmopolitanism. I explore the potential value and limitation of Anderson’s works as what I have termed “colonial cosmopolitanism”. I view colonial cosmopolitanism as a form of cosmopolitan thought that brings its inherent contradiction to the fore. 

Anderson’s travel writing, with its inward gaze, self-critical narration, and engagement with difference, suggest that one of the central contributions Anderson makes in this period is defining Canadian cosmopolitanism in the genre of travel writing. Anderson’s work offers a more nuanced way of thinking about cosmopolitanism in a colonial context. In this article, I demonstrate some of the ways that Anderson’s modernist cosmopolitanism can at least partially succeed, all while continuing to acknowledge and tease out the “exemplary failure” of colonial cosmopolitanism to extricate itself from colonial ideology.

Author Biography

Emily Bryna Elizabeth Ballantyne, Dalhousie University

Emily Ballantyne is a doctoral candidate in Canadian literature at Dalhousie University, where she has held a Killam Fellowship and a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship.  Her dissertation places Canadian modernist writers—including John Glassco, P.K. Page, A.M. Klein, and Patrick Anderson—in the context of transnational travel writing.  She co-edited (with Michèle Rackham Hall and Emily Essert) a special issue on the oeuvre of P.K. Page for Canadian Poetry (Fall/Winter 2014) and a collection (with Dean Irvine and Marta Dvorjak) on transnational modernist writing in Paris for University of Ottawa Press (2016).  Her work has appeared in Canadian Poetry, Studies in Canadian Literature, University of Toronto Quarterly and The Dalhousie Review. She has also contributed chapters to Public Poetics: Critical Issues in Canadian Poetry and Poetics (WLU Press 2015) and, with Zailig Pollock, Archival Narratives for Canada (Fernwood 2011). Currently, she is at work on a collection of Page’s non-fiction prose for the Collected Works of P.K. Page.