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Response and Commentary (Sara Guyer, Marc Redfield and Emily Sun)

Eva Geulen’s response to the essays included in this volume contends that all three essays more or less explicitly defend romanticism “from any biopolitical charges and suspicions” by calling on the literary aesthetic, a move she takes as an indication that what is at stake is not so much biopolitics as it is “aesthetics by way of biopolitics.” Rather than opening up new lines of inquiry, the appearance of theoretical accounts of biopolitics provides the occasion to redraw, however contingently, the lines defending the literary aesthetic. Geulen’s discussion turns to and remains focused on Agamben’s account of sovereignty and bare life. In her reading, the concept of sovereignty provides an opening onto the relation of biopolitics and literature. Yet contrary to the readings offered by Guyer, Redfield, and Sun, Geulen suggests that aesthetics does not as much mark an aesthetic resistance to biopolitics as it paradoxically participates in and furthers biopolitical violence. Geulen argues that merely identifying and recognizing moments of textual ambivalence and rhetorical undecidability does little to resist, let alone change, the effectivity of the biopolitical structure.
December 2012

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"Introduction: The Romantic Rhetoric of Life"

This essay introduces a collection of articles intended to initiate a conversation about and between biopolitics and romanticism. Its broad contention is that the study of biopolitics reanimates the question of romanticism in two senses. First, the set of conceptual resources provided in recent work on biopolitics opens up inventive lines of inquiry that enable scholars to re-think the already established awareness that the literature, philosophy, and culture of romanticism displays an obsession with life. In another sense biopolitics reanimates romanticism insofar as the current scholarly concern with life as an object of power marks the radical survival of romanticism. If romanticism responds well when examined in the light of contemporary biopolitical theory, then a constitutive part of this response is a certain resistance to biopolitical theory. As the contributors to this volume demonstrate, the biopolitical intervention on life engages paradoxes, predicaments, and aporias that have been widely or fully appreciated neither by theorists of biopolitics nor by critics who take up their work. Romanticism, we suggest, is a privileged locus for the awareness that even the most assured representation of life turns upon an irreducible “literariness.”
December 2012


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"Aesthetics, Sovereignty, Biopower: From Schiller’s Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen to Goethe’s Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten"

Redfield argues that the very density of aesthetics means that biopolitics may not be exactly what contemporary theorists claim it to be. As much as aesthetics can be read as an extension of biopolitics, biopolitical sovereignty finds itself subject to the technicity of aesthetics. Explicitly a political response to and solution for the violence of the French Revolution, Friedrich Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man outlines an aesthetic program that aims for nothing less than a body at one with the law. What Redfield focuses on, however, is not just the violence that sovereignty performs and disavows, but also the force that it exploits yet cannot control. To elaborate this claim, he turns to a text published in the same year (1795) as Schiller’s treatise, Goethe’s Conversations of German Refugees, seven stories that are intended by their refugee tellers to embody the promises of aesthetic culture to restore the moral and political order of the ancien régime after the violence of the French Revolution. The controlling figure for this order is, in the words of the leader of the refugees, the Baroness, der gute Ton, a literal translation of the French bon ton. Yet Ton in German also means “noise.” Exploiting this double meaning, Redfield traces a remarkably consistent pattern by which sovereign responses to shocking noises in the text reproduce rather than put an end to the revolutionary shock such noises are associated with. Insofar as Goethe’s text is itself an aesthetico-pedagogical effort to disseminate den guten Ton, it allegorizes its own inability to rigorously distinguish between the shock it to which it responds and the shock upon which it turns.
December 2012

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Archive of Comparative Romanticism Sessions at Modern Language Association Annual Conventions (1990- )

Romantic Studies at the MLA, 1990-
Comparative Romanticism Division Sessions

1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998


Gender and Genre

Division on Comparative Studies in Romanticism and the Nineteenth Century. Presiding: Cynthia Chase, Cornell Univ.

1. "Mourning, Masochism, and Mothers: Felicia Hemans on the Origins of Poetry," Carol Barash, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick
2. "'As I Am a Man': The Structures and Stakes of Masculinity in 'The Thorn,'" Philip Barrish, Cornell Univ.

Romanticism and Anti-Semitism: Texts, Contexts, Criticism


American Conference on Romanticism 1998 Conference Program

American Conference on Romanticism
Annual Meetings, 1994-1998

Note: The formatting of the following program follows the original. We have made only minor changes throughout, correcting obvious errors and making some listings more uniform to facilitate electronic searching.

"Cross-Currents in Romanticism"

University of California, Santa Barbara

Friday Oct. 16 - Sunday, Oct. 18

Conference Committee:

Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook, English
Didier Maleuvre, French and Itlian

Gerhart Hoffmeister, Germanic, Slavic, and Semitic:
Committee Chair

Conference Program

Friday Oct. 16

Registration: 10:00-5:00

11:00 a.m.: ACR Advisory Board Meeting

12:00 p.m.: Prism(s) Periodical Board Meeting


American Conference on Romanticism 1997 Conference Program

American Conference on Romanticism Annual Meetings, 1994-1998

Note: The formatting of the following program follows the original. We have made only minor changes throughout, correcting obvious errors and making some listings more uniform to facilitate electronic searching.

American Conference on Romanticism Fourth Annual Meeting

University of Georgia, January 22-25, 1998

Conference Organizer: Anne Williams

Registration, Holiday Inn Lobby: 2:30-5:30

First Session: 3:30-5:00

1. Gothic/Romantic I, Athena I :

Chair: Anne Williams, University of Georgia

b. "The Tigers in the Woods: Gothicism and Wordsworth's Lucy Poems"
Laura Dabundo, Kennesaw State University



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