The Poetry Foundation has published a review of Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and the Terror of Science, an exploration of the Romantic sensibility in science. Authored by Molly Young, the article characterizes Holmes’ book as “equal parts passionate history and head-shaking elegy—a recovery of a golden era and a subsequent burial of it.” Starting with Captain Cook’s voyage to Tahiti in 1768 and ending with Charles Babbage’s publication of Reflections on the Decline of Science in England in 1830, the book catalogues a number of Romantic explorer’s and scientists–from Humphry Davy to William and Caroline Herschel. The argument throughout, according to Young, is that Romantic poetry and science have two key attributes in common: a frenzy for discovery and a lack of specialization. It should come as no surprise, then, that “the Romantic imagination was inspired, not alienated, by scientific advances.”
In addition, Andrew Stauffer of The Hoarding has collected several other reviews of The Age of Wonder.
The fall 2009 meeting of the International Conference on Romanticism will convene in New York City from November 5 to November 8 to address the topic “Romanticism and the City.” The meeting will be jointly hosted by The City College and The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. Submissions engaging with some aspect of the general theme are welcome from all disciplines, including but not limited to literary studies, history, philosophy, and political science.
Alexander Gelley, University of California-Irvine
Marjorie Levinson, University of Michigan
Michael Moon, Emory University
From Wordsworth’s description of Lyrical Ballads as a response to “the increasing accumulation of men in cities” to Baudelaire’s location of the impetus for his prose poetry in “la fréquentation des villes énormes,” the history of Romanticism is bound up with a continuous and evolving response to the emergence of the modern city. As work in a range of areas in our own day leads us to reconsider how we think about such oppositions as nature and culture, the organic and the mechanical, wholeness and multiplicity, the urban text or sub-text of Romanticism presents itself not only as a comparatively neglected area of investigation but as a place to pursue this rethinking.
These observations are offered to prompt debate and, above all, to invite a broadened conception of the historical reach of Romanticism in the formulation of proposals. Proposals for individual papers should be limited to 500 words and emailed to icrnyc_at_ccny.cuny.edu no later than May 1, 2009. General proposals for special sessions should be also limited to 500 words, or 1000 words if comprising sub-proposals, and emailed to: icrnyc_at_ccny.cuny.edu no later than March 1, 2009.