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The Victorian Geopolitical AestheticRealism, Sovereignty, and Transnational Experience$
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Lauren M. E. Goodlad

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728276.001.0001

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Where Liberals Fear to Tread

Where Liberals Fear to Tread

E . M. Forster’s Queer Internationalism and the Ethics of Care

(p.208) 7 Where Liberals Fear to Tread
The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic

Lauren M. E. Goodlad

Oxford University Press

The first of two chapters to follow the geopolitical aesthetic beyond its mid-Victorian distillations, Chapter 7 explores E. M. Forster’s queer variation on internationalism. Scholars since Trilling have held Forster up as liberalism’s literary standard bearer. Focusing on Where Angels Fear to Tread, this chapter argues that Forster’s fiction flummoxes liberalism’s ethico-political categories by bending toward affective rather than procedural alliances. Where Angels Fear to Tread, a border-crossing romance tinged with tragedy and magic realism, makes the volatile encounter between Europe’s North and South the scene of bodily experiences that transgress national sovereignties without wishing away the eroticized differences nation-states are seen to cultivate. Forster’s encounters with “the South” trouble liberal ideals of synthesis, mutual recognition, equality, and universality, even as they aspire toward a reconfigured ethic of care. As a queer internationalist—a contextualist who embraces difference for its world-enlarging frisson—Forster does not nurture the rejuvenated liberalism Trilling proposed.

Keywords:   E. M. Forster, Lionel Trilling, G. M. Trevelyan, magic realism, geopolitical aesthetic, Southern Europe, internationalism, New Liberalism, ethics of care, queer theory

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