Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

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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Multi-Media Romanticisms

This introductory essay of Multi-Media Romanticisms explores the central concepts that emerge from the individual essays contained in the volume. These concepts include: the multiplicity of Romantic-era media technologies and theories; the conceptual models of network, assemblage, and ecology used by contemporary scholars to map the relations between media; Romantic valorizations of noise as a benign register of materiality, singularity, and finitude; and the turn to questions of affect and emotion as a way to describe the position of the subject within extended networks of mediation. These conceptual clusters seem to us the most knotty and generative issues within Romantic-era media studies today.

November 2016

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Multi-Media Romanticisms

This volume explores the multiplicity of the media concept during the Romantic age in England. The collection's central investigations include: the multiplicity of Romantic-era media technologies and theories; the conceptual models of network, assemblage, and ecology used by contemporary scholars to map the relations between media; Romantic valorizations of noise as a benign register of materiality, singularity, and finitude; and the turn to questions of affect and emotion as a way to describe the position of the subject within extended networks of mediation. Volume contributors reflect on the interactions among the diverse media forms of the Romantic age and explore the connections between those old media forms and today’s dynamic new media ecologies.

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November, 2016

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Gavin Hopps, ed. - Byron’s Ghosts: The Spectral, the Spiritual, and the Supernatural. Reviewed by Chris Washington

Byron’s Ghosts: The Spectral, the Spiritual, and the Supernatural, ed. Gavin Hopps (Liverpool University Press, 2013). 246 pp. (Hdbk., $99.95; ISBN 9781846319709).

Chris Washington
Francis Marion University

Rethinking Teachability through the Esoteric Blake

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July, 2016

In this essay, I reflect on how my experience of teaching William Blake’s Milton (comp. ca. 1804-1811) to graduate students was retrospectively transformed by reading Silvan Tomkins and Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics (1677) in a seminar that I subsequently taught on affect theory. Engaging with Spinoza’s and Tomkins’s respective writings on negative affects (such as shame and fear) and positive affects (such as joy) allowed me to discover in what I had been thinking of as a pedagogical failure an exciting pedagogical opportunity to rethink my unreflected assumptions about teaching and what constitutes teaching success. The key breakthrough came when, through a shift of perspective, I began to see that the shame and fear of not understanding Milton that my students (and on occasion, I) experienced was a version of the affective dramas, or “Mental Fight,” in Blake’s works and thus an essential aspect of the reading process rather than an obstacle to it.

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Blakean Pedagogy: An Introduction to William Blake and Pedagogy

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July, 2016

The present volume intervenes in the notion that pedagogy is of a secondary concern to Blake scholars by showing how William Blake’s work can invigorate the classroom. Contributors use Blake’s inspiration to create new teaching methodologies, propose new assignments, engage new public audiences, and critically explore the emergence of new technological modalities. Famously difficult, Blake nevertheless constructs crucial dialogues in fields from the digital humanities to manuscript history and affect theory. This volume shows how teachers can take advantage of his holistic approach to pedagogy—his insistence that teaching is entangled with every part of our lives—to contest standard approaches to Blake in the literature classroom.

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