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Framing Romantic Dress: Mary Robinson, Princess Caroline and the Sex/Text

Two Romantic Period women who were accustomed to public appearances used the semiotic play provided by deliberate dress choices to create public interpretations of their legible bodies: Mary Robinson and Princess Caroline. While Robinson carefully crafted her public image, she also varied it with fashionable rapidity so that she was always in the public eye due to her literal mobility among public spaces and her identity mobility. This flexible form of role playing allowed Robinson to adjust her public image as necessary. When the less adept Caroline of Brunswick attempted to create similar identity play for herself, the outcome was successful or disastrous in public opinion depending on her political backers. Caroline's body was pre-read through political screens, and unlike Robinson's careful identity managing, Caroline's costuming was directed at fighting or abetting such screens.
January 2006

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Robbins, "Afterword: Secularism, Cosmopolitanism, and Romanticism"

Bruce Robbins notes in his response to the three essays that cosmopolitanism remains for the most part a background figure against which secularism and romanticism are variously positioned. He counts the essays in the volume as examples of the secularizing of the secular, a position which acknowledges that secularism is newly interesting to scholars not as a term of appreciation but as an object of contestation for its tendency to look like a continuation of religion by other means.

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Jager, "Introduction"

In this introduction to the volume, Jager argues that secularism has remained an obscure topic within romantic studies. Noting that 'a genealogy of romantic secularism has yet to be written,' Jager sketches some aspects of such a genealogy by noting the persistence of romantic thinking—about the symbol, for example—in secular thinking. Cosmopolitanism, he notes, has been more widely considered alongside romanticism, but here again the relationship of secularism to 'romantic cosmopolitanism' has tended to remain invisible. Is cosmopolitanism part of a secular project? Or do the conditions of postmodernity in fact make possible a religious cosmopolitanism of a kind anticipated by some romantic texts? This essay appears in _Secularism, Cosmopolitanism, and Romanticism_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.

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Ferguson-Wagstaffe, "'Points of Contact': Blake and Whitman"

This essay seeks to reopen a transatlantic dialogue between Blake and Whitman, and illuminate a material point of contact (Whitman’s tomb)through a close reading of these poets’ rhetorical points of contact. The author focuses on Blake's engraving, 'Death's Door,' which served as a model for Whitman's tomb, Whitman’s responses to Blake in his letters and notes, their shared status as prophetic poets, and their poetics of revision. This essay appears in _Sullen Fires Across the Atlantic: Essays in Transatlantic Romanticism_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.

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Sullen Fires Across the Atlantic: Essays in Transatlantic Romanticism

"Points of Contact": Blake and Whitman

Sarah Ferguson-Wagstaffe, University of Pennsylvania

  1. On September 29, 1890 Whitman enclosed a rough sketch of his tomb in a letter to his literary executor, Richard Maurice Bucke.

    Hewitt, "Joanna Baillie's Ecotopian Comedies"

    This essay situates a group of Joanna Baillie’s comedies at the intersection of utopian and ecocritical studies, in the conceptual space where they rethink the dichotomy between nature and culture. Drawing analogies between the “Characteristic Comedy” elaborated in Baillie’s _Introductory Discourse_ and the _Comedy of Survival_ theorized by Joseph Meeker, Hewitt argues that Baillie’s plays seek to identify and encourage traits, including sympathy, conducive to the co-survival of humans in all the environments (social and physical) they occupy. Through examples from her _Series of Plays_, Hewitt investigates how these comedies replace aggressive with cooperative relations implying that humans can establish more responsible households in the world.

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    Terada, "Introduction"

    The introduction traces a brief genealogy of the concept of culture. The vacillation between a learned, deliberate sense of culture and the contemporary notion of a looser and more spontaneous sense of culture is figured through Schiller’s notion that even the ancient Greeks’ notion of deliberate training contained something less deliberate. It is suggested that the papers gathered here gain perspective from Romantic (and sometimes pre- and post-Romantic) elaborations of the ways in which manifestations of individuality, interiority, particularity, and privacy may coalesce quite tenuously to express aspects of collectivity. Despite recent suspicions about the closeness between the concepts of race and culture, culture emerges as a network of habits, ideas, and affinities that can provide leverage against naturalized identity thinking. A philosophically informed concept of culture precludes the collapse of culture into identity. This essay appears in _Philosophy and Culture_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.

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    Mieszkiowski, "Patriot Acts: The Political Language of Henrich von Kleist"

    In a reading of Kleist's *The Battle of Hermann*, Mieszkowski argues that the notion of linguistic self-affection is central to the Romantic understanding of patriotism. From this perspective, the very idea of devotion to community must be rethought in terms of one's capacity to execute a uniquely disruptive set of verbal acts. This essay appears in _Romanticism and Patriotism: Nation, Empire, Bodies, Rhetoric_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.

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    Crocco, "The Ruins of Empire: Nationalism, Art, and Empire in Hemans's Modern Greece"

    This study discusses the importance of the trope of ruins and the paradigm of decline and fall to the rhetoric of nationalism and imperialism in Felicia Hemans's Modern Greece. Contingent to this subject is an exploration of the ways in which female writers of the Romantic Period were able to enter the public sphere and broach the often male-gendered topoi of nationalism, travel, and empire by adopting differing patriotic stances and unique narratological structures. This essay appears in _Romanticism and Patriotism: Nation, Empire, Bodies, Rhetoric_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.

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    Sounds Romantic: The Castrato and English Poetics Around 1800

    In contrast to the notion that Italian opera has no relation to romantic opera or to romanticism generally, this essay demonstrates that the Italian castrato was a prominent figure in London during the period around 1800. The essay argues that the idea of the romantic castrato makes it possible to revise understandings of the (aggressive) relationship between sight and sound that is so often attributed to literary production of this period, particularly to William Wordsworth. The essay explores the ways that the castrati-c imagination (ironically) facilitates an analysis of romantic sound imagery that is mindful of materiality, offering in particular a reading of the relation between castrati, sound imagery, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
    May 2005

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