Research Topic and Annotated Bibliography
A main characteristic of Romanticism is the imagination. Some of the poems we've read can be seen as not only products of the imagination but as imagination itself, such as Kubla Khan. All of this is very intriguing to me. What heightens my intrigue even more is that the subject of imagination becomes a topic of discussion to the Romantic writers. They actually discuss their views and debate on the subject, and sometimes their views of imagination appear explicitly in the poetry ("What is now proved was once, only imagin'd"—The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). My question with all of this is why the intense investment in the imagination? There was a lot going on in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century—the French and American Revolutions among other things. The political and social changes created an atmosphere that was both inspirational and fearful. With all the changes going on in the human realm, I think the poets turned to an individualistic realm of the imagination to find communion with nature and the self. This turn to the individual brings in questions of validity, which brings in philosophy. My paper will revolve around philosophical ideas, and I will use them to discuss the Romantic Writers' use of imagination in the quest for communion with nature.
Malpas, Simon. "In What Sense 'Communis'? Kantian Aesthetics and Romantic Ideology." Romanticism On the Net 17 (February 2000) [11-30-03] <http://users.ox.ac.uk/~scat0385/17kant.html>
Malpas explores two questions in this essay: (1) Can there be any "truth potential" in Romantic art that is not simply ideological? and (2) if so, how can Romanticism's relation to ideology be rethought? The questions Malpas raises and elaborates on are important to my discussion of the individuality and therefore subjectivity of imagination. He also discusses Kant's sensus communis, which is "the idea of a sense shared by all." I think this idea, in relation to the Romantics, is one of communion with nature. This subjectivity coupled with communion is what Malpas calls an "intrasubjective community."
Miall, David S. "Locating Wordsworth: 'Tintern Abbey' and the Community with Nature." Romanticism On the Net 20 (November 2000) [11-30-03] <http://users.ox.ac.uk/~scat0385/20miall.html>
On composing "Tintern Abbey" Wordsworth felt that he made a connection with nature. Miall agrees and discusses three aspects of the poem that reinforce this: (1) The way Wordsworth describes the landscape, (2) Wordsworth's connection to the picturesque, and (3) the representation of human figures and landscape. The picturesque aspect will be interesting in that it can contradict a claim to communion with nature.
Pace, Joel. "Emotion and Cognition in The Prelude." Romanticism On the Net 1 (February 1996) [11-30-03] <http://users.ox.ac.uk/~scat0385/emotion.html>
This article explores the creative process involved in Wordsworth's The Prelude. Pace focuses on the relationship between emotion and cognition and how Wordsworth combines the two to portray a search for the self and its place in the world. This idea of emotion and cognition being combined is shaky ground in philosophy. The question is whether or not truths can be had if they are not totally objective.