Literature

English Romanticism in East Asia

This volume brings together essays from Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea to offer an unprecedented view of English Romanticism’s presence in the modern literature and literary criticism of East Asia. Going beyond simply tracing the influence of English Romantic writing on East Asian writers and critics, each essay reveals an intrinsic and often surprising interconnectedness in the Romantic aesthetics and mode of thought across the borders of East and West. This collection’s reflection on English Romanticism through the historical particularities of East Asian nations at the onset of modernity sheds light on Romanticism as a still valid form of cultural critique against the shared yet divergent forms, experiences, and questions of modernity.

Date published: 

December, 2016

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About this Volume

About this Volume

This volume brings together essays from Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea to offer an unprecedented view of English Romanticism’s presence in the modern literature and literary criticism of East Asia. Going beyond simply tracing the influence of English Romantic writing on East Asian writers and

December 2016

Tags: 

Teaching Romanticism and Literary Theory

These essays reflect on the ways contributors integrate literary theory into their teaching of Romanticism and reflect on the continued importance of literary theory to Romanticism and the work of Romanticists. Collectively the essays broach a range of questions, but perhaps most importantly: why teach Romanticism and literary theory today? How does teaching Romanticism with literary theory alter our ideas of both?

Dissensus in Two Registers: “Tintern Abbey” in Taiwan

If a conversation between poetry and philosophy can be said to have inhabited the language and literature of Romanticism since its inception—and to have constituted the driving force of Romanticism-as-theory, what happens to this conversation when it crosses linguistic and cultural borders? What are the limits of the theory internal to Romanticism and of the theories that Romanticism generates beyond the confines of an increasingly monophone globalism? This paper engages with such questions by presenting and reflecting on passages of textual and cultural dissensus—à propos the specific difficulty of translating the very signifiers, “sense” and the “senses”—in the reading of “Tintern Abbey” in a non-Western context. It suggests that such sites of untranslatability may serve precisely as new grounds for restarting Romanticism’s theoretical potential in our contemporary global context of connected yet heterogeneous cultural traditions.

About this Volume

About this Volume

Romantic texts have repeatedly played important roles in the development of what we call literary theory. For instance, all of the essays collected in the 1979 Deconstruction and Criticism volume, which did so much to announce deconstruction in the United States, were originally meant to focus on

On the Uses and Abuses of Theory (for Life)

This piece relates some strategies for creating a generative tension between theory and romanticism in the classroom. Its examples are Badiou's strident critiques of romanticism as the "philosopheme" of historicism and Kant's imbrication of "theory" and "practice." At stake more broadly is the problematic notion of use (and misuse), so common in recent discussions about the humanities: how to "use" literature—which literature, or which theory, and for what ends.

Preface

Romantic texts have repeatedly played important roles in the development of what we call literary theory. For instance, all of the essays collected in the 1979 Deconstruction and Criticism volume, which did so much to announce deconstruction in the United States, were originally meant to focus on the poetry of P. B. Shelley. In the intervening decades, Romanticists have often been hired as literary theorists, and so the teaching of Romanticism has frequently been paired with the teaching of literary theory. For this special issue of Romantic Circles Pedagogy Commons I asked contributors to reflect on the ways they integrate literary theory into their teaching of Romanticism and to reflect on the continued importance of literary theory to Romanticism and the work of Romanticists. I did not define “literary theory” but left the term open to interpretation. Collectively the essays broach a range of questions, but perhaps most importantly: why teach Romanticism and literary theory today? How does teaching Romanticism with literary theory alter our ideas of both?

The Intimacy of Infrastructure: Teaching Wordsworth with Bataille

This essay outlines how one might lead a discussion of William Wordsworth’s sonnet “Steamboats, Viaducts, and Railways” (1833) in relation to Georges Bataille’s chapter “The Rise of Industry” from his Theory of Religion (1973). Such a pairing would attune the classroom conversation to questions of intimacy as they arise in the poem and in Bataille, and can show students how to read a poem for more than its apparent argument. The combination of Wordsworth and Bataille can show students how capitalist ideology generates its own internal resistance, how British Romantic writing can construe subjectivity as an injury, how poetry speaks through its formal procedures, and how theory interacts with literary texts ambiguously, in ways that go beyond serving as a metaphorical lens.

Teaching Romanticism, Poetics, and Lyric Theory

Cumbersome terminology aside, this essay demonstrates the use and interest of teaching the debated concept of lyric ontology in the Romantic Poetry classroom across undergraduate and graduate levels. It moves from a narrative introduction on Robert Frost's very material practice of "lyric overhearing" on his Derry, New Hampshire party-phone line, to extended consideration of the recent scholarly turn to historical poetics in the study of nineteenth century British and American Poetry. I discuss Virginia Jackson's influential and compelling anti-lyric anti-theory——Jackson's version of the resistance to theory——as it presents a teachable conflict with the Romantic "literary absolute." The essay ends by reconsidering the metonymic linkage between the position of Romanticism and the position of poetry/ literature/ the Humanities in the institution of the contemporary university, and with brief suggestions for lesson plan ideas and student readings. (Post-production note: contemporary American poet Ben Lerner's The Hatred of Poetry [Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016] makes for a timely addition to the essay's bibliographic suggestions and also may impart something like a critical mass to the essay's approach to teaching in the rift between poetic ontology and historical poetics.)

Romanticism as Method

Whether or not we believe the reports of theory's imminent or absolute demise, recent calls (from Latour, Sedgwick, Best and Marcus) to move beyond ideology critique invite us to rethink our teaching as well as our research practices. This essay asks what it would mean to exchange an emphasis on "theory" for one on "method." My suggestion is that focusing on method encourages a cultivation of knowledge as, specifically, a knowing-how, a form of intellectual labor that values adventurous collaboration over private virtuosity.

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