Though traditionally defined as a relatively brief time period - typically the half century of 1780-1830 - the "Romantic era" constitutes a crucial, indeed unique, transitional phase in what has come to be called "modernity," for it was during these fifty years that myriad disciplinary, aesthetic, economic, and political changes long in the making accelerated dramatically. Due in part to the increased velocity of change, though, most of modernity’s essential master-tropes - such as secularization, instrumental reason, individual rights, economic self-interest, emancipation, system, institution, nation, empire, utopia, and "life" - were also subjected to incisive critical and methodological reflection and revaluation.
The chapters in this collection argue that Romanticism’s marked ambivalence and resistance to decisive conceptualization arises precisely from the fact that Romantic authors simultaneously extended the project of European modernity while offering Romantic concepts as means for a sustained critical reflection on that very process. Focusing especially on the topics of form (both literary and organic), secularization (and its political correlates, utopia and apocalypse), and the question of how one narrates the arrival of modernity, this collection collectively emphasizes the importance of understanding modernity through the lens of Romanticism, rather than simply understanding Romanticism as part of modernity.
This book was previously published as a special issue of European Romantic Review.
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About the Author
Thomas Pfau is Professor of English and Professor of Germanic Languages & Literatures at Duke University, USA. He is the author of Wordsworth’s Profession (1997), Romantic Moods (2005), editor of five essay collections and special issues, and author of some thirty essays in refereed journals, anthologies, and collections.
Robert Mitchell is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Duke University, USA. His monographs include Sympathy and the State in the Romanic Era: Systems, State Finance, and the Shadows of Futurity (2007) and Bioart and the Vitality of Media (2010).
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Romanticism and Modernity Thomas Pfau and Robert Mitchell 2. Romanticism and Modernity: Epistemological Continuities and Discontinuities David E. Wellbery 3. Natural Purposes and the Reflecting Power of Judgment: The Problem of the Organism in Kant’s Critical Philosophy Joan Steigerwald 4. Excitability: The (Dis)Organization of Knowledge from Schelling’s First Outline (1799) to Ages of the World (1815) Tilottama Rajan 5. After the Covenant: Romanticism, Secularization, and Disastrous Transcendence David Collings 6. Modernity and the Fate of Utopian Representation in Wordsworth’s "Female Vagrant" Vivasvan Soni 7. How to Move from Romanticism to Post-Romanticism: Schelling, Hegel, and Heine Terry Pinkard 8. Sometimes a Stick is Just a Stick: The Essay as (Organic) Form Denise Gigante 9. Bildungsspiele: Vicissitudes of Socialization in Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship Thomas Pfau 10. The Very Model of a Modern Epic Poem Nicholas Halmi 11. Machines of Turning Actions into Reactions: The German Novella and the Event Fritz Breithaupt 12. Arendt, Byron, and De Quincey in Dark Times Jacques Khalip 13. Cryptogamia Robert Mitchell 14. Romanticism, Psychoanalysis and the Interpretation of Silence Nancy Yousef