Abstract

Tweet tweet jug jug: Learning to Listen in the Romantic Anthropocene

This essay reflects on the experience of teaching Romantic bird poetry through the lens of our current anthropogenic environmental crises. In particular, it considers how we can not only read but also hear Romantic poetry anew as an undulating constellation murmuring beneath the Anthropocene, particularly as birdsong is in the process of disappearing as climate change threatens mass avian extinction. It explores how we might attend to those bird sounds and silences in poetry by Smith, Coleridge, Keats, and Clare in light of this impending silence. I describe the lesson in detail, which begins with students giving an account of their lives among our wasted environments (on local and global levels) before moving into the Romantic past. I frame this backward pedagogical approach through the rhetorical figure of hysteron proteron (temporal inversion). The lesson chiefly aims to cultivate a sonic sensibility, one that makes students better listening subjects attuned to sonic changes in their environments. It accomplishes this by pairing select poems about the nightingale with a contemporary digital sound sculpture that makes bird sound audible and visible. Developing a method of “close listening,” a model of acoustic intimacy that requires becoming attentive to the layers of ubiquitous sounds, I frame listening as an act of turning us outward, one that makes us more perceptually aware citizens of the Anthropocene.

The Last Sex on Earth: Teaching Mary Wollstonecraft and Lucy Corin in the Anthropocene

This essay takes two experimental forms, both of which are meant to exemplify what I call “hyper-jump pedagogy.” The first form tracks backward, reading sex and gender in the work of Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to where the course began, the works of Mary Wollstonecraft and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, before lurching forward to Wall-E, where the course ended. The second essay form uses the Romantic Circles Pedagogy Commons Drupal platform to generate a random version of the essay with paragraphs disarranged. Both forms demonstrate how temporality in the Anthropocene disorients and defamiliarizes our beliefs about our place in relation to time. This disorientation and defamiliarization leads to a reconsideration of reproduction as it relates to sex, gender, and the family.

Tiptoeing through Keats: Teaching Queer Ecology in the Anthropocene

In this article, I present a way of teaching John Keats’s "I stood tip-toe upon a little hill" and Endymion (amongst other Romantic-era poetical and prose works) as queerly ecological and as useful components of a pedagogical paradigm serviceable to those wishing to discuss environmental issues in the Anthropocene. The article shows the interdependencies of earthiness and eroticism in two short poems by Keats who was, as I argue, not simply a sensualist but a subversive nature poet that imbued the environment with erotic energy and promoted the conservationist practice of tiptoeing as the best way of feeling the earth beneath one’s feet. It then examines how Endymion, with its well-known “Pleasure Thermometer” passage, enacts a queer ecology that resonates in instructive ways vis-à-vis Timothy Morton’s theorization of “the mesh.” The texts discussed here provide an instruction manual for scholars and teachers investigating nineteenth-century depictions of interdependencies in the natural world and human sexuality in a current Anthropocene that threatens the futures of both of these phenomena.

Sometimes in that Silence: Occupying the Anthropocene with Wordsworth and John Cage

This essay addresses the theoretical, philosophical, and aesthetic uses of silence in the work of William Wordsworth and John Cage. Through close readings of poems by both writers, an examination of their texts on poetics, and an excursus on the concepts of slow violence and the Anthropocene, I ask whether silence might be a useful strategy to resist the traumatic effects of neoliberalism and socio-ecological breakdown. In order to demonstrate the pedagogical usefulness of silence, I also share a sound collage created with my students, in which we employed Wordsworth’s and Cage’s compositional and philosophical methods to try to capture something like the texture of silence mixed directly onto an audio file. Finally, the essay closes by asking whether attunement to silence might help us recognize and respond to the slow violence (military, economic, ideological, and so on) that seems simply to be the world we inhabit.

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.

Media Adaptations and Ecocritical Perspectives in the Anthropocene: Teaching Wordsworth’s Written in Germany, On One of the Coldest Days of the Century

This essay outlines a media adaptation exercise instructors can use to investigate the role of the Romantic subject or the lyric “I” in this latest phase of geological time, the Anthropocene. As a test case, it focuses on the overlooked lyrical ballad, Wordsworth’s "Written in Germany." It explores terms for analyzing media and media adaptations in the classroom. It investigates how media adaptations can lay bare the rhetoric of the first-person perspective and the philosophical implications of the self’s relationship to nature. Last, it situates the Romantic-era subject within a broader historical and ecological context, and it considers the centered, first-person perspective in relation to marginalized perspectives and the “view from nowhere.” The essay concludes with the importance of allowing shifting perspectives to migrate across multiple media.

Introduction: Living through Human Trumpery through Romanticism

This introduction shows how this volume crafts an intersectional Romantic pedagogy of resistance to human-made climate change in the Anthropocene. Such a pedagogy rejects ideas about “humans as one unified species” and seeks instead a dialogue between race, class, gender, sexuality, nonhumans, and queer alignments, among others. The introduction also features short descriptions of each essay.

The Last Sex on Earth: Teaching Mary Wollstonecraft and Lucy Corin in the Anthropocene

This essay takes two experimental forms, both of which are meant to exemplify what I call “hyper-jump pedagogy.” The first form tracks backward, reading sex and gender in the work of Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to where the course began, the works of Mary Wollstonecraft and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, before lurching forward to Wall-E, where the course ended. The second essay form uses the Romantic Circles Pedagogy Commons Drupal platform to generate a random version of the essay with paragraphs disarranged. Both forms demonstrate how temporality in the Anthropocene disorients and defamiliarizes our beliefs about our place in relation to time. This disorientation and defamiliarization leads to a reconsideration of reproduction as it relates to sex, gender, and the family.

Latin America’s “Chiaroscuro” Byron

"Latin America’s 'Chiaroscuro' Byron" explores the ways in which Latin America and English Romanticism clashed and overlapped during the nineteenth century in their portrayals of Lord Byron. Offering a glimpse into the fervid Byromania spreading among young intellectuals in the Southern Cone, this essay traces how Byronic figures were adopted in Spanish and Portuguese by the novelist José Mármol and by the Brazilian poet Manuel Antônio Álvarez de Azevedo. Ultimately, Byron’s image was viewed in Latin America through a diversifying chiaroscuro effect, in which Argentina’s Byron was luminous and ethereal, but Brazil’s Byron was dark and brooding. But this influence exerted by Byron was not unidirectional. The essay concludes by suggesting ways in which Simón Bólivar served as an inspiration for Lord Byron, modeling both literary freedom and political independence.

Toward Unity: Cernuda and English Romanticism

This essay presents a study of the Spanish writer Luis Cernuda and his poetic appropriation of the English Romantic aesthetic and sensibility. A member of the Generation of '27, Cernuda left Madrid in 1938 to deliver lectures at Oxford and Cambridge, traveling to Glasgow, Cambridge, London, and the United States before finally settling in Mexico. As an exile in Scotland and England, Cernuda encounters Romanticism in the midst of the Modernist rejection of the era, negotiating questions of poetical ethics and pertinence during an era of modern warfare. Reading A Defence of Poetry and echoing Shelley a century later, he asks, “What is a poet?” “Poetry is not only useful,” Cernuda decides, “but also has certain social effects.” This essay offers an encompassing view of how Cernuda achieved a sense of unity in his own poetics, negotiating an English tradition with a Spanish one, while balancing his Romantic interests against contemporary Modernist pressures.

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