"Ode on a Grecian Urn":
Hypercanonicity & Pedagogy
Keats's Widely-Taught and Well-Wrought "Urn"
This volume of Romantic Circles Praxis Series includes an editor's introduction by James O'Rourke, essays by David Collings, Helen Regueiro Elam, Spencer Hall, David P. Haney, John Kandl, Bridget Keegan, Brennan O'Donnell, Jeffrey C. Robinson, Jack Stillinger, Heidi Thomson and Susan J. Wolfson.
This volume on the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is part of the Romantic Circles Praxis series on seminal texts in Romantic literature. The eleven contributors were asked not for original scholarship on the "Urn," but for an account of how they teach this hypercanonic text. If it can be assumed that every every English major knows something about this poem, this volume tries to identify what it is that they know. These eleven essays suggest that students are confronting the enigmas of Keats's poem just as he contemplated the enigmas of the silent urn, and they show that there is rich variety of methods for bringing students to an appreciation of Keats's uncertainties, mysteries and doubts.
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The Romantic Circles Praxis Series is devoted to using computer technologies for the contemporary critical investigation of the languages, cultures, histories, and theories of Romanticism. Tracking the circulation of Romanticism within these interrelated domains of knowledge, RCPS recognizes as its conceptual terrain a world where Romanticism has, on the one hand, dissolved as a period and an idea into a plurality of discourses and, on the other, retained a vigorous, recognizable hold on the intellectual and theoretical discussions of today. RCPS is committed to mapping out this terrain with the best and mo st exciting critical writing of contemporary Romanticist scholarship. The Romantic Circles Praxis Series was formerly known as Romantic Praxis: Theory and Criticism. The name was changed in November 1999.
David Collings is Associate Professor of English at Bowdoin College. He is the author of Wordsworthian Errancies: The Poetics of Cultural Dismemberment (1994) and articles on S. T. Coleridge, Mary Shelley, and John Thelwall. He has recently completed a book, Monstrous Society, on the transformation in notions of the collective body in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Helen Regueiro Elam is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the State University of New York at Albany. She is the author of The Limits of Imagination and numerous essays on British, French and American poetry.
Spencer Hall is Professor of English and Director of Honors at Rhode Island College. He has edited the MLA Approaches to Teaching volumes on Wordsworth (with Jonathan Ramsey) and Percy Shelley and has published numerous articles and reviews on Romantic poetry and criticism.
David P. Haney is Professor and Chair in the English department at Appalachian State University. He is the author of William Wordsworth and the Hermeneutics of Incarnation (Penn State, 1993) and The Challenge of Coleridge: Ethics and Interpretation in Romanticism and Modern Philosophy. He is also the author of articles on Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Keats.
John Kandl is Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program at Walsh University. He has published several articles on Keats and Romanticism, including chapter one of The Cambridge Companion to Keats entitled, "'Delight with Liberty': The Politics of Keats's Early Poetry." He is currently finishing an edition of Keats's Selected Poems: Including the Complete 1817 and 1820 Volumes, with Selections from Endymion for Broadview Press.
Bridget Keegan is Associate Professor and Chair of English at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. She is one of the editors of English Laboring-Class Poetry, 1700-1800 (Pickering and Chatto, 2002) and has written articles on John Clare and on laboring-class poetry. She is currently finishing a monograph on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century laboring-class writing about nature.
Brennan O'Donnell is Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program at Loyola College in Maryland. Among his publications in Romantic-period literature are The Passion of Meter: A Study of Wordsworth's Metrical Art (Kent State, 1995), essays on Coleridge's "Christabel" (JEGP 2001), and on the Romantic sonnet (European Romantic Review 2002).
James O'Rourke is Professor of English at Florida State University. He is the author of Keats's Odes and Contemporary Criticism (Florida, 1998) and articles on Mary Shelley, Wordsworth, and Shakespeare. He is currently writing on ethics and autobiography.
Jeffrey C. Robinson's most recent book of criticism is Reception and Poetics in Keats: My Ended Poet (Macmillan/St. Martins, 1998). He is finishing a book on the Fancy, or Romantic counter-poetics and a book on poetry and journal entries on the poetry of Wordsworth. He teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Jack Stillinger, Center for Advanced Study Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, published on "Ode on a Grecian Urn" as long ago as 1958, in a short piece in PMLA on the manuscripts of the poem, and as recently as 2001, in a piece titled "The 'Story' of Keats" in Susan Wolfson's Cambridge Companion to Keats. His latest book is Reading "The Eve of St. Agnes": The Multiples of Complex Literary Transaction (Oxford UP, 1999).
Heidi Thomson is Senior Lecturer in English at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She has edited The Absentee for Penguin Classics (2000). Together with Kim Walker she has edited Volume Five of Edgeworth's Tales for the Pickering Masters edition (1999). She has published articles and reviews in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Studies in Romanticism, Yearbook of English Studies, Modern Language Review, and Criticism. She particularly enjoys teaching, reading and thinking about the lyric poetry of Gray, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats.
Susan J. Wolfson is Professor of English at Princeton University and the author of The Questioning Presence (1986) and Formal Charges (1997), both of which involve Keats. She is also editor of and contributor to The Cambridge Companion to John Keats (2001), the editor of the The Romantics and their Contemporaries in The Longman Anthology of British Literature, Volume 2a, 2nd ed. (2003) as well as editor of the forthcoming John Keats: A Longman Cultural Edition (2004).