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British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason by Timothy MichaelWhat role should reason play in the creation of a free and just society? Can we claim to know anything in a field as complex as politics? And how can the cause of political rationalism be advanced when it is seen as having blood on its hands? These are the questions that occupied a group of British poets, philosophers, and polemicists in the years following the French Revolution. Timothy Michael argues that much literature of the period is a trial, or a critique, of reason in its political capacities and a test of the kinds of knowledge available to it. For Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Burke, Wollstonecraft, and Godwin, the historical sequence of revolution, counter-revolution, and terror in France--and radicalism and repression in Britain--occasioned a dramatic reassessment of how best to advance the project of enlightenment. The political thought of these figures must be understood, Michael contends, in the context of their philosophical thought. Major poems of the period, including The Prelude, The Excursion, and Prometheus Unbound, are in this reading an adjudication of competing political and epistemological claims. This book bridges for the first time two traditional pillars of Romantic studies: the period's politics and its theories of the mind and knowledge. Combining literary and intellectual history, it provides an account of British Romanticism in which high rhetoric, political prose, poetry, and poetics converge in a discourse of enlightenment and emancipation.
Call Number: eBook
Publication Date: 2015-11-04
John Keats and the Ideas of the Enlightenment by Porscha FermanisJohn Keats is generally considered to be the least intellectually sophisticated of all the major Romantic poets, but he was a more serious thinker than either his contemporaries or later scholars have acknowledged. This book provides a major reassessment of Keats's intellectual life by considering his engagement with a formidable body of eighteenth-century thought from the work of Voltaire, Robertson, and Gibbon to Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith. The book re-examines some of Keats's most important poems, including The Eve of St Agnes, Hyperion, Lamia, and Ode to Psyche, in the light of a range of Enlightenment ideas and contexts from literary history and cultural progress to anthropology, political economy, and moral philosophy. By demonstrating that the language and ideas of the Enlightenment played a key role in establishing his poetic agenda, Keats's poetry is shown to be less the expression of an intuitive young genius than the product of the cultural and intellectual contexts of his time.
Call Number: eBook
Publication Date: 2009
Styles of Enlightenment: Taste, Politics and Authorship in Eighteenth-century France by Elena RussoStyles of Enlightenment argues that alongside its democratic ideals and its efforts to create a unified public sphere, the Enlightenment also displayed a tendency to erect rigid barriers when it came to matters of style and artistic expression. The French philosophes tackled the issue of the hierarchy of genres with surprising inflexibility, and they looked down on those forms of art that they saw as commercial, popular, and merely entertaining. They were convinced that the standard of taste was too important a matter to be left to the whims of the public and the vagaries of the marketplace: aesthetic judgment ought to belong to a few, enlightened minds who would then pass it on to the masses. Through readings of fictions, essays, memoirs, eulogies, and theatrical works by Fénelon, Bouhours, Marivaux, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Mercier, Thomas, and others, Styles of Enlightenment traces the stages of a confrontation between the virile philosophe and the effeminate worldly writer, "good" and "bad" taste, high art and frivolous entertainment, state patronage and the privately sponsored marketplace, the academic eulogy and worldly conversation. It teases out the finer points of division on the public battlefields of literature and politics and the new world of contesting sexual economies.