Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

Shelley’s Aesthetic Dimension: The Politics of Resistance and Reform

Given the resurgence of interest in the relation between Shelley’s political essays and poetry, what concept of relationality can be posed to move beyond an old, entrenched opposition between the social commitment of prose and the abstract withdrawal of poetry to theorize a novel form of “political poetics”? In what ways do Shelley’s reflections on the history of modern revolution inform his ideas of literary experience and political subjectivity? How, moreover, does Shelley’s work provoke what he outlines in A Defence of Poetry (1821) as “a beneficial change in opinion or institution” through aesthetic experience, without falling prey to an escapist flight into inwardness? Taking these questions as points of departure, this essay traces within Shelley’s work a theory of aesthetic resistance by reading between his historical-political reflections on the British reform movement in A Philosophical View of Reform (1819-20) and his critical aesthetics. The essay also explores how Shelley’s appeal to an aesthetic dimension in politics creates new modes of experience that resist forms of inhumanity by making visible the otherwise invisible wrongs suffered by groups who remain excluded from participation in the public commons.

September 2015

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The Politics of Shelley: History, Theory, Form

This volume takes as its starting point a 2001 volume in the Romantic Circles Praxis Series, Reading Shelley’s Interventionist Poetry, 1819-1820, in which volume-editor Michael Scrivener, employing Theodor Adorno's terminology, interrogates a potential binary in our understanding of Shelley's "interventionist" work: the "antinomy of commitment and autonomy." Asking what it means for a work of art to intervene in its immediate political context, the present volume asserts the necessity of seeing through and beyond the antinomy of political commitment and artistic autonomy by rereading and reimagining the political in Shelley’s writings and his legacy. Indeed, the essays in this volume chart new political possibilities in our estimation of Shelley’s body of work—pathways that take us back to post-Peterloo repression through to the Victorian Shelleyans, and then forward to Jacques Rancière’s post-Marxism.

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October, 2015

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Romantic Systems

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. Instead, the essays collectively convey a sense that Romantic writers viewed systems with a distinctive mixture of skepticism, anxiety, and enthusiasm.

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March, 2016

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A Place at the (Seminar) Table for Austen’s Popular Readers

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April, 2015

This essay takes account of the author’s evolving approach to incorporating popular culture materials and historic editions into her teaching of Austen. It outlines a philosophy of teaching Austen to a broad undergraduate population in liberal-arts colleges, as well as practical classroom strategies for undergraduate courses on writing and literature at all levels. Also included are students’ responses to encounters with historic editions.

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Austen Unbound: Teaching Persuasion in Prison

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April, 2015

This essay explores the challenges of teaching literature in the unique setting of higher education programs in correctional institutions. Based on the author's experience teaching a romantic-literature course in prison, it explores some of the cultural and logistical obstacles at play in prison education and possibilities for how these obstacles can be successfully negotiated. Finally, it suggests possible examples of how to adapt Austen for other nontraditional audiences.

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Sensible Shoes and Suitable Husbands: Teaching Austen with Children’s Literature

Date published: 

April, 2015

This article argues that Romantic-era children’s literature provides a useful means of introducing first-year students to Austen’s novels. By comparing children's decision-making processes in texts for young readers to the dilemmas faced by novel heroines, students better understand Austen’s era and the stakes of her heroines’ choices.

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Jane Austen and the Gothic

Date published: 

April, 2015

This essay describes an advanced undergraduate course on “Jane Austen and the Gothic.” Breaking with a literary-historical narrative of development in which Austen corrects the Gothic’s excess, the course interspersed a selection of Austen’s novels with Gothic fiction of the 1780s and 90s to explore what these works share, and what their differences could prompt students to see about Austen’s fiction, about the Gothic, and about novels and novel reading in general. Reading Austen with the Gothic helped highlight the uneasiness and “agitation” permeating Austen’s evocations of apparently ordered social worlds, and helped students understand disordering moments in both Austen and the Gothic through a shared network of formal and ideological concerns linking political and social debates to questions of narrative and the representation of character. As the course played out, the striking diversity of student responses to Austen and to the Gothic—responses shaped in part by the divergent afterlives of Austen and the Gothic in today’s popular culture—focused our discussion in surprising ways not only on the social and epistemological value accorded different genres and modes of writing, but also on the kinds of privilege accorded different modes of reading (for example, fast or slow, compulsive or disciplined, credulous or skeptical), both in the Romantic period and in our own classroom practice.

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Introduction: Teaching Jane Austen and the Scholarship of Teaching

Date published: 

April, 2015

In this introduction to the collection of essays, Looser and Friedman discuss the history of and the state of the scholarship of teaching Jane Austen, a surprisingly underdeveloped area of study, given Austen's ubiquity in the English curriculum at the college level.

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