Collings, "Suspended Satisfaction: 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' and the Construction of Art"

In Ode on a Grecian Urn, Keats depicts the urn as the impossible, absent object perpetually invoked, and missed, in consumerist desire. The urn thus becomes an aesthetic artifact, a product of that gesture whereby the museum severs its objects from historical reference and places them in a zone of atemporal, eternal significance. Rather than teaching an eternal truth, the urn returns to viewers the eternity they attribute to it, and as a result, becomes an exemplary statement of the ideology of the museum. This essay appears in _Hypercanonicity & Pedagogy_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.