Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

The Romantic Revival in Early China and Taiwan: Hsu Chih-Mo’s Poetics of Liberty

The Chinese poet Hsu Chih-Mo (1897-1931), known as the Chinese Shelley, brought Romantic ideas from Britain to modern China. His conviction of liberty was manifested in his literary works, alongside his pursuit of true love and social change. This essay employs the concept of “Romantic legacies” to revisit Hsu’s Romantic philosophy and Taiwan’s Romantic movements. Firstly, the essay examines Hsu’s Romantic legacies. Influenced by Bertrand Russell, Thomas Hardy and other British intellectuals, Hsu succeeded to Shelley’s Romantic ideas of social justice and love. His journeys to Europe and experience of love helped shape and reshape his Romantic philosophy. Secondly, the essay explores Hsu’s Romantic ideas and Taiwan’s democratization. Hsu’s literary works, regaining significance in the spirit of the Fourth May movement, facilitated Taiwanese youngsters’ understanding of the significance of independent minds. Hsu’s poetics of liberty was introduced to Taiwan and gained popularity, in particular, during the period of campus ballads. In brief, the Shelleyan skylark flew from Britain, via modern China, to Taiwan and continues singing its songs of idealism.

December 2016

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“A candle that must melt away”: Early Keats Scholarship in Japan

This essay explores the ethos of early Keats scholarship in Japan, focusing on three major scholars: Saito Takeshi, Sato Kiyoshi, and Hinatsu Kohnosuke. Japanese scholarly investigations into Keats were pioneered by a group of young scholars centered around the Imperial University of Tokyo. In the first place, Saito attempted to establish a humanistic understanding of the poet’s ideas, as exemplified by his Keats’ View of Poetry (1929). His love of Keats reflects his early reading, higher education, and Protestantism. His meeting with John Lawrence, a philologist, at the University perhaps opened the way for a modern methodology of Romantic study in Japan today. Secondly, unlike his fellow-scholar, Sato in The Art of Keats (1924) embraced Keats as an apostle and victim of beauty, while understanding English Romanticism as a catalyst for social modernization. Thirdly, Hinatsu, a scholar-poet from Waseda University, authored a massive study entitled The Priest of Beauty (1939) on the psychological process through which Keats composed the “Odes.” His account of Keats’s artistry owes something to his early background and reclusive character. The achievements of these scholars attest to their high-minded ambition in guiding the progress of national literature and literary scholarship in Japan.

December 2016

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Introduction

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.

December 2016

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Romanticism in the Peripheries: Choe Jae-seo’s Literary Criticism in Colonial Korea

This essay explores the possibilities of literary criticism in a colonial situation by tracing the career of Choe Jae-seo (1908-64), who was one of the first scholars of English literature to write literary criticism in colonial Korea. Choe began his literary studies with a particular focus on English Romanticism at Kyungsung Imperial University, and Romantic aesthetics became a major site of struggle for Choe in finding his voice as a colonized critic. Throughout this struggle, Romanticism carries the burden of Choe’s historical and political consciousness by becoming the point of tension between literature and politics, East and West, universal cosmopolitanism and totalitarian imperialism. At the end of this road, Choe arrives at the possibility of a Romantic cosmopolitan criticism, which continues to call for a critical vigilance against colonial oppression and political violence.

December 2016

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Keats’s Afterlife in Twentieth-Century China

This paper puts together a trajectory of Keats’s reception in China from appropriation to oblivion and then to restoration in line with three distinctive moments in Chinese modern history. It explores the interaction between the original text and its foreign context, particularly complex in Keats’s case for his often misconceived image as an escapist aesthete who seemed much out of place in 20th China undergoing violent political and ideological changes. While this aestheticism confined Keats’s influence to a smaller circle than that of his more radical contemporaries such as Byron and Shelley, his less discursive and more ambiguous poetry also ensured its survival in a repressive political context and continued to appeal to different generations of Chinese readers with its deep sympathy for fellow human beings and honesty about the human condition.

December 2016

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An Object-Oriented Ontology of Media through Don Juan

This essay applies concepts from object-oriented ontology (OOO) to the study of communications media specifically with respect to Lord Byron’s Don Juan (1819-1824). The essay’s primary contention is that OOO provides a conceptual stance well-suited to reveal some of the early media-ontological speculations performed in, around, and through Don Juan. This object-oriented ontology of media, rooted in Romantic-era texts, also provides us with tools for analyzing our current media ecology.

November 2016

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Wordsworth between Minds

This essay argues that the slippery boundary between “mind” and “media” drives William Wordsworth’s experimental poetics and looks at two poems’ attempts to reimagine that boundary. Whereas “Lines Written in Early Spring” struggles to understand mental states as the common medium that links the system of nature, “The Old Cumberland Beggar” gives up that desire for a common medium and focuses instead on the ways that mental processes arise from the interaction between heterogeneous elements of village life. If the latter poem appears more overtly conservative in its defense of a traditional way of life, it continues to experiment with counterintuitive or unsettling ways of depicting mediated activity between minds.

November 2016

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Landon: In Sound and Noise

Letitia Landon has often been seen, both in her own time and ours, as a prolific writer catering to mass audiences with repetitive tales of exotic romance. This essay proposes that Landon’s verse narratives, and the inset poems they include, repeat tales using different media less as a stock performance of the sentimental woman but as an acute inquiry into her own multiply mediated landscape. In doing so, she constructs an archive of mashed-up older and newer technologies that engineer a layered sensory, affective, and temporal experience, which we can read through the techniques of non-linear media archaeology and machine-assisted reading.

November 2016

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Speaking with the Artful Dead in Romantic Periodicals

In several Romantic periodicals, a first-person narrator witnesses the spirits of the distant past return to reanimate artworks in museum settings.  This essay focuses on two such playful texts, which show how Romantic literary magazines used this rhetorical device to convey their visions of Britain’s recent history and probable future as well as to communicate a sense of their own place in Romantic print culture.

November 2016

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Shelley amid the Age of Separations: Romantic Sociology and Romantic Media Theory

In an effort to square today’s findings that Romantic poets are early media theorists with Raymond Williams’s older claim that Romantic poets were “poets or sociologists,” the essay reframes Percy Shelley’s writing—and even his sometimes obscure poetic style—as engaged in a cultural sociology alert to the aesthetics of imaginative media. Grounded in sociological thought from Romantic-era sciences of society to Émile Durkheim, “Shelley amid the Age of Separations” suggests that the problem of “Romantic media” does not ultimately involve greater or better connectedness but rather the feeling of social dissolution amid heightened infrastructural concentration. The essay concludes by reading Epipsychidion (1821) and some of Shelley’s other works as inquiries into how poetry might model a form of relationality fit for modern societies, an interaction that is neither principally commercial nor amatory.

November 2016

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