Imagining the Internet Through the Romantics

This essay chronicles my experience teaching a course outside of the realm of Romanticism (a first-year writing course focused on digital media), an experience which occasioned reflection on the lessons that Romanticism can offer us about contemporary new media, and in particular how we approach new media pedagogically. The essay begins with an overview of new media scholarship which seeks to redress the tendency to view new media as always immaterial, the scholarship that informed much of the focus of the course in question. I next discuss some of the tools and methods adopted in teaching the course. And the final move in the essay turns toward Romanticism, and specifically to theories of and scholarship on the Romantic imagination. My final contention is that the Romantic imagination offers ways to resist the ideology of immateriality which characterizes so much of new media discourse.