This comparative essay focuses on the afterlife of Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (1820) in the Spanish-American tradition. It begins with an overview of the work’s reception history in Hispanophone culture, including its appeal as a revolutionary manifesto in Spanish-American journalism and literature. The essay then unpacks the Shelleyan inspiration and thematic echoes in The Lost Steps [Los pasos perdidos] (1950), a well-known classic by the Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier.
This essay focuses on Keats’s reception and critical influence through the eyes of Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar, the two giants of Argentine letters. Both writers depicted and identified Keats as a misunderstood figure that needed to be rescued by their intervention. They seek to integrate Keats as a member of their own intellectual community, regarding him “not as a master but as a comrade-in-arms.” Cortázar and Borges’s reading of Keats as a contemporary challenges the colonial view of Latin American literary creations as subsidiary of the European tradition, renegotiating transatlantic dynamics of colonial cultural interactions. The essay traces the theme of Negative Capability in Borges’s 1952 essay "Keats’s Nightingale," and the chameleon figure in Julio Cortázar’s Imagen de John Keats.
This essay explores the generic hybridity and transtemporality of Imagen de John Keats, Julio Cortázar’s literary biography from the 1950s. An amphibious text that oscillates between a rigorous work of criticism and a playful work of fiction, it follows two lines of national influence: the Latin American surrealist short story and Romantic poetry. Moreover, in staging a sense of timeless contemporaneity by strategically merging literary-historical events, the book brings together Keats, Shelley, and Hunt with Cortázar’s own circle of Argentine friends and intellectuals. This rippling of chronologies makes it possible for Cortázar to personally inhabit a Romantic universality, rendering Keats accessible to the Latin American “everyman.”
It is not common to associate Latin America with studies of English Romanticism. However, authors from Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo to Julio Cortázar have innovatively transformed the works of the British Romantics through purposeful misreadings and adaptations, forging links of aesthetic closeness and poetic familiarity that compensate for their chronological and geographical separation. The transformations of Byron, Shelley, and Keats by Hispanophone and Lusophone writers are marked by authority, whimsy, and adventure, often evoking a sense of playful irreverence. Afterlives from these perspectives help to decenter the Anglophone pillars of Romanticist study, helping to mitigate the exclusivity of a field that centers an entire literary and cultural universe within a span of fifty years on the British Isles. In essays by Stephen and Jordan Hart, Juan Jesús Payan, Omar Miranda, Gabriel Insausti, Marco Ramírez Rojas, and Olivia Loksing Moy, one common strand that emerges is how these authors confront questions of cultural marginality and belatedness. The various transformations of the major British Romantic poets studied in these contributions conjure up new figures with which to populate our familiar canon: an alternately dour or ethereal Byron (Mármol / Antônio Álvares de Azevedo); a more pragmatic Shelley (Cernuda); an exuberant and virile Keats (Cortázar).
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.
"Translating Revolution into Spanish: British Romanticism and the Spanish-Speaking World" offers ways of teaching British Romanticism through the lens of human rights. The proposed course covers the pamphlet wars of the 1790s in Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindications of the Rights of Woman. Students also consider abolitionist literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Hannah More’s "Slavery, A Poem," and Leonora Sansay’s Secret History; or, The Horrors of St. Domingo. The goal of this approach is to address the cultural amnesia regarding the history of slavery and enslaved peoples, and to broaden students’ understanding of the era’s independence movements by introducing historical documents from Latin and South America.
Syllabus for Introduction to Global Romanticisms
Originating in the late-18th century and flowering in the 19th, Romanticism was a multi-faceted, complex literary movement that radically altered the way language expresses the human condition. Reacting against a
Mapping Black Atlantic Romantic Imag-I-Nation(s) Syllabus
This course examines imaginative representations of the self in the poems, novels, autobiographies, essays, and sermons of the earliest African American writers, including the works of Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Jacobs, and Frederick Douglass and
My aim is to consider the ways in which the “black Atlantic” and its combined focus on music and literature redefine the field of Romanticism and how this redefinition translates into the classroom. One pedagogical approach is to examine how Wheatley maps time, space, and memory through meter. Through attention Wheatley’s use of syncopation, it’s possible to see how her verse subverts the colonialist notion of mapping, accounting for and claiming ownership of internal and external space as well as rhythmical spaces of lines of poetry and typography. Her versified maps have spaces and places that are unaccounted for, that are merely implied and must be imagined, like a pulse that is felt but not heard. Such interstitial spaces are represented in her poetry by syncopation’s silences, omissions, ambiguities, ironies, reversals, (un)stressed syllables, and the music theory surrounding “on beats” and “off beats.” "On Imagination" and "On Being Brought from Africa to America" metaphorically re-plot the coordinates of her memory of the middle passage, as a metrically mapped journey from earth to heaven. Before Wordsworth and Coleridge, Wheatley’s autobiographical pentameter testified to the spiritually and politically transformative power of the Imag-I-Nation(s), remapping national, spiritual, emotional, racial, and spatial coordinates to challenge the understanding of the Enlightenment’s legacy in her day as well as the present.
"European Romanticism and Frankenstein: A Comparative Literature Course for English Majors" outlines a course that prepares future teachers of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to acknowledge the novel’s French and German influences. Such influences include Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions and The Sufferings of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of the texts that the creature finds in the forest. The essay offers ways to introduce topics such as the French Revolution (the backdrop for the DeLacey family’s story) and argues for the importance of teaching Romantic irony as a way to approach literature of the period, particularly French and German Romantic poetry. The course invites students to explore European texts with similar themes as Frankenstein. E. T. A. Hoffmann’s novella The Sandman (published a year before Frankenstein) and Goethe’s Faust also feature doubles, death and rebirth, and scientists.