Dissensus in Two Registers: “Tintern Abbey” in Taiwan

If a conversation between poetry and philosophy can be said to have inhabited the language and literature of Romanticism since its inception—and to have constituted the driving force of Romanticism-as-theory, what happens to this conversation when it crosses linguistic and cultural borders? What are the limits of the theory internal to Romanticism and of the theories that Romanticism generates beyond the confines of an increasingly monophone globalism? This paper engages with such questions by presenting and reflecting on passages of textual and cultural dissensus—à propos the specific difficulty of translating the very signifiers, “sense” and the “senses”—in the reading of “Tintern Abbey” in a non-Western context. It suggests that such sites of untranslatability may serve precisely as new grounds for restarting Romanticism’s theoretical potential in our contemporary global context of connected yet heterogeneous cultural traditions.