Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

Material Excursions

“Material Excursions” teases two questions. How does the general mobility and flexibility of late capitalism, increased—if not inaugurated—by cloud computing, leave material traces? And, given romantic poetry's preoccupation with clouds, how does romantic poetry, specifically the poetry of William Wordsworth, help us to think the material traces of cloud computing and the knowledge economy differently? The essay draws from the accidental convergence of Apple’s rhetoric surrounding iCloud and Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud.”
February 2015

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The Matter of Fictitious Capital

Though Karl Marx stands an irrefutable and even obligatory touchstone in most trajectories of materialism, his historical materialist analysis of capital proceeds by way of a number of formulations that subsequent Marxists would, and do, critique as idealist: conceiving labor as a differential substance that “is more than it has” and that marks the human’s distinction from animals (or, at least, from “bees” as the example goes) by virtue of its ineluctably ideational aspect; conceiving capital as “illusory, but (with) its own laws of motion for all that”; conceiving value as “in reality impossible”; and conceiving capitalism as a mode of production that is simultaneously a metaphysical system. As our present financial crisis has prompted various returns to Marx, particularly to his theory of fictitious capital, this entwining of the material and the ideal once again demands critical attention. This paper focuses on a few signal moments when thinking capitalism requires a materialism merged with its other – moments when it is a necessity, rather than a weakness, for Marxian materialism to have been something more multifaceted than we epigones generally avow.
February 2015

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What Wordsworth Touched

This paper explores the occasion of Wordsworth’s retrospective commentary on his poetry as recorded by Elizabeth Fenwick in notes take at Rydal Mount in 1843. Focusing on the aging poet turning the pages of the book he holds in his hand as he reads and recalls writing his poems, the argument considers touch as a form of mediation that in bringing the subject into relation with the object also brings him into relation with his own material being. Wordsworth’s retrospective project reminds us that such materiality is an inevitable if also a fragile and changing condition of making poets as well as poems.
February 2015

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Romantic Materialities, or 'This is not a Thing'

This essay, an introduction to the collection "Romantic Materialities, or 'This is not a Thing," provides an overview of the essays included in the issue in the context of historic and recent accounts of the place of things in Romanticism, showing how a Romantic account of things helps to situate contemporary theory, from Deconstruction to Thing Theory to Object Oriented Ontology.
February 2015

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Killing What Is Already Dead: 'Original Materialism,' Translation, and Romanticism after de Man

This article adresses Paul de Man's critique of translation in the context of his later writings on aesthetic ideology and materiality. By restoring de Man's essay on Walter Benjamin to its original context of the 1983 Messenger Lectures, it elicits from these later writings a concept of translation that might be of particular relevance for a closer investigation of the interplay between translation and aesthetic theory in the writings of Coleridge and Carlyle.
February 2015

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Literary Immanence

This essay considers the problem of materialism in literature from the perspective of linguistic empiricism. It takes as a its point of departure Paul de Man's treatment of linguistic materiality to argue that a specifically literary description of agency ought to take into account the event of literature as such. It then turns to Gilles Deleuze's formulation of immanence to offer a reading of a key scene in Dicken's Our Mutual Friend that illustrates how literature stages its coming-alive.
February 2015

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Radcliffe's Materiality

This article examines Radcliffe's writing as a phenomenon of continuous material surfaces and folds. Radcliffe's Gothic narratives can be seen as assemblages that generate transpersonal affects and intensities. Their conservatism can be seen in how they conceive of agency as a force that arrests or works against the constant movement inherent in materiality.
February 2015

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Teaching Jane Austen

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April, 2015
The essays collected here describe curricular ideas, innovations, and practices that seek to move us beyond simple questions of Austen’s accessibility, relevance, and context. The contributors ask how we might enrich the teaching of Austen’s fiction by seeing her in conversation with manuscript culture, children’s literature, Harry Potter, or Romantic poetry. Collectively, these essays look to what it means to teach Austen in many kinds of classes and classrooms, with differently located learners and with a variety of texts, tools, and assignments.

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On His Knees: Stendhal, Byron, and a Hundred Irresistible Impulses

This essay investigates how the concept of fandom might make sense of a reading practice that emerged in the romantic period, the practice of visiting places associated with authors and their works in order to re-read their works in situ. Focussing on Lady Frances Shelley as a typical romantic literary tourist, the essay considers the ways in which she (and by extension others) produced new constructions of reading and the reader in response to the emergent figure of the romantic author. Shelley's various accounts of visiting romantic locales associated with Rousseau, Scott and Byron not only provides a conspectus of possible tourist-stances and practices but suggests that romantic readers strove to represent themselves on a footing not only of intimacy but of social equality with the author, re-establishing a sense of a coterie audience in the face of the realities of an increasingly heterogenous mass reading public.

April 2011

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