Literature

Models for System in Idealist Encyclopedics: The Circle, The Line, and the Body

The Eighteenth Century has been called the “age of the encyclopedia,” but the understanding of that word is very different in the encyclopedias of Chambers and Diderot on the one hand, and on the other hand the German Idealist tradition variously exemplified by Hegel’s Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, Schelling’s On University Studies, and Novalis’ Romantic Encyclopedia. In Kant’s terms, the first provides an aggregate of knowledge, whereas the second attempts a system that entails an architectonic. Focusing on Hegel’s desire to unify all the sciences through the meta-discipline of philosophy, this paper explores the increasing complication of his architectonic by the very figures he uses to safeguard it: namely the circle, the line, and the body. Tracing the supplementary relationship between the first and the second, I argue that the body with its multiple subsystems brings to a head the collapse of the “smooth” system Hegel intended into a “tangled’” system: a productive collapse, because instead of being a forced unification of knowledge, the encyclopedia becomes a thought-environment for transferences between disciplines and potentially the emergence of new disciplines. Or, in effect, it becomes a form of “Theory” avant la lettre.

March 2016

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Shelley’s Pauses: Systemic Change in Laon and Cythna

This essay examines two interrelated strategies Shelley uses to conceive of the systemic context for individual agency. In both cases, Shelley portrays agency as moving or acting upon air. First, drawing on new scientific accounts, Shelley examines the weather as a global system that is subject to local variability. Comparing the movement of weather to the movement of ideas, Shelley postulates that systemic change occurs when air from a “free” region moves into and temporarily disrupts air that has been tainted by despotic social and political structures. In this analogy, weather provides a model for the action of poetry because air is the medium through which the poet acts on readers by literally changing their breath. And the second way Shelley explores the possibility of systemic change is through adopting and altering poetic form to move readers’ breath. ​Poetic form proves such an important resource for Shelley not only because it shapes readers’ breathing to its metrical patterns but also because, originating in another era, it stands apart from current sociopolitical systems. In Laon and Cythna, Shelley envisions the caesura within the Spenserian stanza as a tool for moving systemic structures.

March 2016

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The Shelley-Godwin Archive Releases the Prometheus Unbound fair copy notebooks

The Shelley Godwin Archive has just announced the release of P.B. Shelley's Prometheus Unbound fair copy notebooks, consisting of Bodleian MSS. Shelley e.1, e.2, and e.3. Details about the new publication can be found in Neil Fraistat's press release, but briefly put, the publication brings new content and functionality to the archive: 

Reading and Raiding: On the Case of Wordsworth. Review by G. Kim Blank

William Wordsworth in Context, edited by Andrew Bennett (Cambridge University Press, 2015) 360 pp. (Hbk ISBN: 9781107028418)

The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth, edited by Richard Gravil and Daniel Robinson. (Oxford University Press, 2015) 896 pp. (Hbk ISBN: 9780199662128)

Reviews of
Andrew Bennett, William Wordsworth in Context
Richard Gravil and Daniel Robinson, The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth

G. Kim Blank
University of Victoria

Romantic Circles BookChat: Ossianic Unconformities, by Eric Gidal

Eric Gidal, Ossianic Unconformities: Bardic Poetry in the Industrial Age (University of Virginia Press, 2015). 240 pp. (Hdbk., $39.50; ISBN 9780813938172).

Eric Gidal, Tobias Menely, and Theresa Kelley discuss Ossianic Unconformities: Bardic Poetry in the Industrial Age (U of Virginia P, 2015); Moderated by Jesse Oak Taylor.

 

 

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