Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

The Minimal Unit

The minimal unit in romantic-period writing maintains the uneasy status of being in time as well as out of it: both temporalized as a condition of occurring and sufficiently freestanding to withstand incorporation to any narrative in which the present would be captured by the future in becoming anterior and contained or, in the case of poem like Shelley’s “Mont Blanc,” in bringing “vacancy” to some larger account. Closer to an instance of “stopped time,” the minimal unit marks an interval where time proceeds just enough for something monadic to occur as a pathway (or detour) to something else--some other timescape, some other world or stratum, some recessive consciousness--of which the unit is now an apprehendable trace.

May 2016

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Formal Remainders: Wordsworth, Brevity, and Being Cut Short

This paper reconsiders a shrinking set of Lucy poems from Lyrical Ballads (1800) in light of the longer ballad that precedes them: “Ellen Irwin, or the Braes of Kirtle.” Here Wordsworth thematizes death through a constellation of always working but not always living bodies. Moving throughout the corpus of each poem, these bodies embark upon trajectories not marked off by life but designated more simply by movement itself, by the turns and lines that shape the dead as well as the living. Be it the affect of the flesh, the linear gait of a horse, the orbit of the moon, or even the muted work of figures newly mantled by the earth, each metaphorical turn shadows the aesthetic work demanded by each line. Scripting a counter-intuitive formulation—you think that lyric poems are about people, they’re not—the poems reclaim the human body for deep time and ultimately announce the limits of what poetry and humanity as a whole can do.

May 2016

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Brief Encounter: de Man on Wordsworth, or The Irony of “The Rhetoric of Temporality”

In “The Rhetoric of Temporality,” Paul de Man invokes allegory and irony as two distinct perspectives on the question on time: the former responding to an epistemological problem by transposing it into temporal sequence and the latter collapsing temporal sequence into simultaneity. This leads him, however, to imagine the possibility of texts that would “overcome irony.” When he examines “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal” as an example of such an overcoming, de Man’s own text, however, encounters the accident of an irony that opens a window onto the instability of his pedagogical distinction between irony and allegory—an instability that hinges on the necessity of “reading” irony’s brevity in narrative terms.

May 2016

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Keats's Mask

Biographical fascination perversely clings to Keats—the poet of “no self,” of “no identity”—in a manner that can feel exasperating to Keats critics. The spell cast by the materials of Keats’s brief life is, however, deeply bound up with the impersonal, allegorical style that his most influential readers see as central to the poetry’s radical modernity. Keats’s life and death masks bring this truth into focus. The mask, like the image of the Poet as it emerges in Romanticism, bears the trace of the singular lost person. Suggesting the capacity of the withdrawn, formal image of the biographical subject to mobilize affects of pathos and loss, the mask suggestively binds the “sentimental” treatment of Keats’s death to current accounts of his work that locate its distinctiveness in its refusals and critiques of the gestures of lyric subjectivity.

May 2016

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Romantic Education: Romantic Pedagogies and New Approaches to Teaching Romanticism

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May, 2016
These essays offer diverse ways of thinking about the intersections of Romanticism and pedagogy: both what Romantic-era figures themselves thought about the processes of learning and teaching and also what we as modern educators might consider as we present these texts and figures to our students. It is our hope that they will contribute to ongoing conversations among scholars and teachers of Romanticism about the history and future of humanities education, and in particular will foster cross-historical conversations.

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“Hints & Speculation on Education”: Tom Wedgwood’s Materialist Pedagogy

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May, 2016

This article examines the connection between Tom Wedgwood’s pedagogical theories and his materialist theories of mind, which emphasized the importance of emotion in character formation. Wedgwood hoped to open an experimental school for infants with the goal of producing a generation of politically radical geniuses. This article situates Wedgwood’s ideas within the context of Romantic theories of cognition, debates about the mind-body relationship, and social reform, and points to a growing trend that connected bodily health and moral virtue. It argues for the significance of his largely ignored or undervalued contributions to Romantic thinking about the mind, body, and education.

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About this Volume

Date published: 

May, 2016

About this Volume

The Romantic era witnessed broad experimentation with and theorization of education at all levels, from efforts to make education available to child laborers to ideas about the role of nature in learning. Our own period is experiencing similarly intense debates about the best means of educating students in

Imagining the Internet Through the Romantics

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May, 2016

This essay chronicles my experience teaching a course outside of the realm of Romanticism (a first-year writing course focused on digital media), an experience which occasioned reflection on the lessons that Romanticism can offer us about contemporary new media, and in particular how we approach new media pedagogically. The essay begins with an overview of new media scholarship which seeks to redress the tendency to view new media as always immaterial, the scholarship that informed much of the focus of the course in question. I next discuss some of the tools and methods adopted in teaching the course. And the final move in the essay turns toward Romanticism, and specifically to theories of and scholarship on the Romantic imagination. My final contention is that the Romantic imagination offers ways to resist the ideology of immateriality which characterizes so much of new media discourse.

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Generic Mutability and the Pedagogy of Realism in Charlotte Smith’s The Romance of Real Life and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories from Real Life

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May, 2016

This paper investigates the didactic and pedagogic values of Romantic realism by looking at the ways in which Wollstonecraft and Smith, in particular, experiment with the synthesis of Romance and history and how these experiments form the core of their pedagogical projects undertaken within the growing genre of children’s prose. Wollstonecraft’s and Smith’s productions for young readers address the anxiety about women’s ability to employ historical fact and realism in serious literature and replace women’s “state of perpetual childhood” with the powerful roles of educator and arbitrator. But these authors also help create a hybrid genre that allows them to temper history with the attractiveness of Romance and to elevate fiction by infusing it with realism, thus turning fiction into a medium that can address history, society, and all aspects of “real life” as it acts as a powerful pedagogical tool on young minds.

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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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