Taking a Step, Learning from Below, and Imagining Planetarity in Romanticism: On Poems for the Millennium, Volume Three

This essay distills the experience of teaching an upper-division English course entitled "An Introduction to Global Romanticisms." This class focused on one text over the course of the semester – Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey Robinson’s experimental anthology Poems for the Millennium Volume 3: The University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry. This collection attempts to construct a truly global Romantic tradition. In addition to the standard writers of the European Romantic canon, North and South American, Scandinavian, Eastern European, and Asian authors are included here as well. The broad scope of the anthology presents exciting opportunities and challenges. This essay assesses the potential of this volume to reform our teaching of and scholarship about Romanticism, and it briefly articulates a thesis about the “cosmic” dimension of literary texts, which can possibly provide an organizing rubric for engaging with the expansive richness of global Romanticism once conventional formalist and historicist methods are shown to be inadequate for managing its complexity.