Loving, Laughing, and Accepting in the Anthropocene; or, How It Feels to Teach Romanticism at the End of the World

This essay explores how the feeling of living in the Anthropocene and its strange temporality affects how we teach, and specifically how we teach Romanticism. Teaching without a solid sense of futurity—the reigning affective state of our current moment—cuts at the core of pedagogical practice. Drawing on a recent experience of teaching an undergraduate-level course in Romanticism with a focus on “The Failures of Romanticism,” I suggest that Romantic-era texts can offer models of feeling appropriate to the affective experience of living amidst global ecological catastrophe, and maybe help us fail together better. When teaching without a future we must combine our melancholic embrace of vulnerability with other affective modes; in this essay I propose we imbue our Anthropocenic pedagogy with love, acceptance, and humor.