Literature

Keats's Mask

Biographical fascination perversely clings to Keats—the poet of “no self,” of “no identity”—in a manner that can feel exasperating to Keats critics. The spell cast by the materials of Keats’s brief life is, however, deeply bound up with the impersonal, allegorical style that his most influential readers see as central to the poetry’s radical modernity. Keats’s life and death masks bring this truth into focus. The mask, like the image of the Poet as it emerges in Romanticism, bears the trace of the singular lost person. Suggesting the capacity of the withdrawn, formal image of the biographical subject to mobilize affects of pathos and loss, the mask suggestively binds the “sentimental” treatment of Keats’s death to current accounts of his work that locate its distinctiveness in its refusals and critiques of the gestures of lyric subjectivity.

May 2016

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Formal Remainders: Wordsworth, Brevity, and Being Cut Short

This paper reconsiders a shrinking set of Lucy poems from Lyrical Ballads (1800) in light of the longer ballad that precedes them: “Ellen Irwin, or the Braes of Kirtle.” Here Wordsworth thematizes death through a constellation of always working but not always living bodies. Moving throughout the corpus of each poem, these bodies embark upon trajectories not marked off by life but designated more simply by movement itself, by the turns and lines that shape the dead as well as the living. Be it the affect of the flesh, the linear gait of a horse, the orbit of the moon, or even the muted work of figures newly mantled by the earth, each metaphorical turn shadows the aesthetic work demanded by each line. Scripting a counter-intuitive formulation—you think that lyric poems are about people, they’re not—the poems reclaim the human body for deep time and ultimately announce the limits of what poetry and humanity as a whole can do.

May 2016

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Brief Encounter: de Man on Wordsworth, or The Irony of “The Rhetoric of Temporality”

In “The Rhetoric of Temporality,” Paul de Man invokes allegory and irony as two distinct perspectives on the question on time: the former responding to an epistemological problem by transposing it into temporal sequence and the latter collapsing temporal sequence into simultaneity. This leads him, however, to imagine the possibility of texts that would “overcome irony.” When he examines “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal” as an example of such an overcoming, de Man’s own text, however, encounters the accident of an irony that opens a window onto the instability of his pedagogical distinction between irony and allegory—an instability that hinges on the necessity of “reading” irony’s brevity in narrative terms.

May 2016

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Romantic Education: Romantic Pedagogies and New Approaches to Teaching Romanticism

Date published: 

May, 2016
These essays offer diverse ways of thinking about the intersections of Romanticism and pedagogy: both what Romantic-era figures themselves thought about the processes of learning and teaching and also what we as modern educators might consider as we present these texts and figures to our students. It is our hope that they will contribute to ongoing conversations among scholars and teachers of Romanticism about the history and future of humanities education, and in particular will foster cross-historical conversations.

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Romanticism and the Sciences by Robert Mitchell

Robert Mitchell collects and discusses eight wide-ranging approaches to the subject of Romanticism and the Sciences:

  1. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998)
  2. Alan Bewell, Wordsworth and the Enlightenment: Nature, Man, and Society in the Experimental Poetry (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989)
  3. Georges Canguilhem, “The Living and its Milieu,” Grey Room 3 (2001): 7-31
  4. Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977-78, trans. G. Burchell; ed. M. Senellart (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
  5. Denise Gigante, “The Monster in the Rainbow: Keats and the Science of Life," PMLA 117 (2002): 433–448
  6. Friedrich Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990)
  7. Phillip Mirowksi, More Heat than Light: Economics as Social Physics; Physics as Nature's Economics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
  8. Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985)

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