Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

Revisiting the Radical Republican Publishers of the Romantic Era in the Digital Era

Date published: 

May, 2016

The design of this course is to introduce students to the influence that Digital Humanities is having on our organization of the study of Romanticism. To that end, the course shifts from the traditional survey of major authors, to a survey of Romantic-era publishers, whose publications have only recently become widely available through digitization. While there are opportunities for the close reading of major Romantic texts authored by these publishers, emphasis is placed in the assignments on distant reading of periodicals. Moreover, the course prompts student to reflect on the diverse politics of publication, both in the Romantic era, when independent individuals acquired printing presses and began to advocate for freedom of the press, as well as in the present day, with its diverse concerns over freedom of information, copyrights, privacy, and so on.

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Universal Truths, Unacknowledged Legislators: Teaching the First Sentence of Pride and Prejudice

Date published: 

May, 2016

The following essay replays a close-reading, word-by-word in-class exercise of Pride and Prejudice's opening sentence: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that single men in possession of good fortunate must be in want of a wife." In our close reading students and I explore how, in Austen's hands, her famed use of free indirect discourse and irony deflate transcendental assumptions about gender and class. With this deflationary gesture, Austen’s turning of these tropes allows us to see, in turn, how her work connects to the biopolitical imperative to extend the lifespan of the human species that Foucault sees emerging in the eighteenth century. On our reading, though, irony, as developed by Austen, provides a powerful tool for questioning such an imperative in our own time of planetary peril.

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Introduction

Date published: 

May, 2016
This collection combines studies of pedagogical history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century with discourses about innovations taking place in today’s classrooms. By including essays on both topics, we hope to expose the breadth and richness of educational debates in Romanticism, to shed light on new ways to teach Romantic texts, and, finally, to encourage readers to find links between—and potentially answers to—the pedagogical problems facing educators both today and two hundred years ago.

Playing with Independence: Using Multiplayer Online Narratives to Explore Independent and Interdependent Tensions in Romantic-Period Literature

Date published: 

May, 2016

This paper discusses the outcomes of a multi-year project to engage undergraduate students in active and constructive encounters with Romantic period themes and contexts via web-based, multi-user gamespaces. Interactive, participatory learning environments, akin to humanities “lab” spaces where controlled experimentation and exploration can take place, encourage students to innovate, create, share, and play together. This pedagogical strategy engages students with the complexities, advantages, and difficulties faced by the intersection of independent and interdependent approaches to creativity, communication, and action during the Romantic period, allowing them to become performatively involved in experiential situations (as players/classroom citizens and as builders/authors) that reflect the thematic issues that they are studying.

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Byron’s Cain and Romantic Education

Date published: 

May, 2016

Byron´s engagement with Romantic discourses of education in his closet drama Cain has been overshadowed by critical discussions of the work´s theology. This essay repositions Cain within period debates about the goals and possibilities of pursuing knowledge. Falke suggests that although Cain appears to endorse the epistemology implied in many discussions of elite education, it ultimately undermines the dichotomies of knowledge vs. action and mind vs. body upon which these discussions relied.

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About this Volume

About this Volume

The essays in this volume probe the way that Romantic writers explored the limits and possibilities of thinking in terms of systems. The purpose of the collection is not to provide a single perspective adopted by Romantic authors, any more than it is to provide a single theoretical perspective with which to view those authors. Still, the

March 2016

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In the Spirit of “clever inventions and constellations”: the Mechanics of Romantic Systems

This essay offers a new perspective to German Romanticism's thinking about systems by exposing its indebtedness to a mechanical idea that pervades the organic model of systems and operates in the blind spot of organic discourse. Against the common point of view that to think “organically” is to think “non-mechanically,” this essay argues that these two perspectives can in fact co-exist, and it is precisely the particular dynamics of this co-existence that will put the Romantic concept of system in a new light.

March 2016

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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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Introduction: Making and Unmaking Romantic Systems

This essay introduces the essays in the current volume by beginning with the work of William Hazlitt. Hazlitt’s relation to the work of noted system-builders of the age (from Kant to Bentham) was far from straightforward: he criticized their “derangement” but admired and even envied their vision. Hazlitt’s views echo a range of other writers (Blake, Wollstonecraft, and Godwin, to name a few) who were adept at constructing systems as well as attacking them. Such responses demonstrate the startling range of positions that could be taken with respect to systematic thinking of the age, and the essays in the volume demonstrate that Romanticism presents us not with a unified set of beliefs or ideologies about systems but rather with a vibrant display of contrasting arguments, anxieties, and ambitions.

March 2016

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