Ashley Cross - Mary Robinson and the Genesis of Romanticism: Literary Dialogues and Debts, 1784–1821. Reviewed by David Sigler

Ashley Cross, Mary Robinson and the Genesis of Romanticism: Literary Dialogues and Debts, 1784–1821 (Routledge, 2017). xiii + 288 pp. (Hdbk., $140; ISBN 9781848933682).

David Sigler
University of Calgary

Romantic Circles BookChat: Michael Gamer's Romanticism, Self-Canonization, and the Business of Poetry, hosted by Kirstyn Leuner

Kirstyn Leuner (Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University) hosts a chat with Michael Gamer (Professor, University of Pennsylvania) to discuss his new book Romanticism, Self-Canonization, and the Business of Poetry (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism, 2017). Their guests are Jeffrey N. Cox (Professor, University of Colorado Boulder), Devin Griffiths (Assistant Professor, University of Southern California), and Devoney Looser (Professor, Arizona State University). Prof.

Pedagogies Hangouts

Date published: 

July, 2017

Pedagogies Hangouts is a multimedia series that brings together scholars and teachers of Romanticism at all levels to talk about the possibilities and challenges of teaching in the twenty-first century.

“Something Not Yet Made Good”: The Tropology of the Negative in Godwin’s Mandeville

This paper takes up Godwin’s fourth major novel, Mandeville (1817), and explores its extreme negativity as a recursive space for the stalled revolutionary energies of what Godwin saw as the only period in British history worthy of “genuine and independent man”: the period of the Civil Wars and the “English Revolution,” which had many resonances with his own time. The novel, which begins with the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and ends on the eve of the Restoration, is a catachresis: a historical novel whose protagonist never enters history as he progressively retreats into the closet of his psychic history. At its centre is the misanthropic protagonist’s “eternal war” on his rival and future brother-in-law Clifford, who prvides an alibi for an almost pathological deconstruction of normativity. The story ends shockingly with Mandeville’s accidental defacement by Clifford, an effraction that dis-figures all schemes of restoration. But the novel is by no means the “domestic story” that Godwin’s publisher wanted to make it, as Mandeville’s damaged life is a symptom, “imprinted by history and the process of history’s destruction of the body” (Foucault). Approaching the text within the political unconscious of seventeenth-century religious politics, I see the fanaticism that provides the text’s historical backdrop and its later secularization as misanthropy as tropes that must be turned back and in on themselves to discern whether history is absolute negation or the site of a dissensus whose potential comes forth warped and convoluted by a culture that represses its underlying contradictions.


The Negative Turn: Smith’s Elegiac Sonnets and the Right not to Communicate

This essay proposes a reinterpretation of Charlotte Smith’s role in the romantic sonnet revival. It argues, against the predominant trend in Smith criticism, that Elegiac Sonnets is a counter-sentimental work. Smith’s primary innovation in the sonnet form was a particular way of using its “turn” function to dissociate the lyric subject from an unsatisfying reality. This gesture—the “negative turn”—occurs throughout the many editions of Elegiac Sonnets. Emphasizing this aspect of Smith’s sonnets prepares the ground for a hypothesis about her influence on subsequent generations of poets: similar rhetorical devices can be found in works by Cowper, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. The phenomenological efficacy of the “negative turn,” in Smith and other poets, can be usefully described via D. W. Winnicott’s psychoanalytic argument for a “right not to communicate.” Smith’s sonnets invoke this right, and provide a crucial poetic technique for dissociating from the coercive facticity of an unsatisfying reality.


Romanticism and the Rights of the Negative

This collection thinks the “rights” of the negative against the more common association of the term “rights” with human rights and rights that can be posited. Such rights, despite their seeming liberalism, produce a normative notion of the person which is in the end biopolitical, and moreover, in assuming that rights can always be posited, they assume the primacy of the public sphere. The essays in this collection all resist the current emphasis on the public sphere that has resulted from the absorption of “Romanticism” into the “Nineteenth Century,” and focus instead on Romanticism as a retreat from publication, publicity and consensus. Whether this retreat is absolute negation or a withdrawal that holds something in reserve is a question left open in the spaces between these six essays on Godwin, Charlotte Smith, Coleridge and Goya.

Date published: 

June, 2017

Study Abroad in the Lake District

Date published: 

May, 2017

This collection grows out of a 2014 conference panel at the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR), in which five of our six authors shared their varied experiences leading study-abroad courses and field schools to various parts of England and France. These experiences ranged from do-it-yourself plans to full partnerships with third-party organizers, with a similar range of flexibility and cost. Taken together, five areas shape the concerns of the five chapters: models of study and the logistics of running them; models of leadership; types of assignments and excursions; forms of collaborative teaching and learning; and the value of international education for humanities-based learning. This volume will provide practical and experience-based information about study-abroad programs as well as critical reflection about methods and motives.

A Do-It-Yourself Study Abroad Tour of the Lakes and Snowdonia

This essay provides guidelines for anyone who wants to plan his or her own study-abroad trip the English Lake District, outlining the advantages and disadvantages of not using a professional touring or educational service. The essay includes information on lodging and transportation, and describes visits to Keswick, Grasmere, Ullswater, Barrow-in-Furness, and Mt. Snowdon.



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