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By Tanya Agathocleous
Urban Realism and the Cosmopolitan Imagination argues that Victorian urban representation was instrumental in shaping a global imaginary. Shifting in perspective between city to world, writers produced detailed local knowledge and an ideal of totality simultaneously. Together, these different scales produced a sense of human community that gave shape and meaning to the inconceivable complexity of the modern world and the alienating forces of imperialism, capitalism and technology that connected city and world. Urban realism—with its attention to particular locales, classes, ethnicities—anchored and differentiated cosmopolitan ideals in order to situate them in the material world of capitalist modernity, turning the recalcitrant inequities of urban existence into a symbol for what needed to be addressed globally.