The poem tempts us to read the art object (urn as well as poem) as an expression of transcendence. This essay suggests the opposite: that the poem reminds us that art for Keats is not transcendence of mortality but a distillation of its forces. This essay appears in _Ode on a Grecian Urn: Hypercanonicity & Pedagogy_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
Hall notes the place of Keat's Urn in a variety of graduate and undergraduate pedagogies but focuses on the poem's usefulness in teaching students how to read. Depending on the kind of class, he emphasizes formalist or deconstructionist techniques of close textual analysis and places the poem in the context of second-generation British Romanticism.. This essay appears in _Ode on a Grecian Urn: Hypercanonicity & Pedagogy_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
In Ode on a Grecian Urn, Keats depicts the urn as the impossible, absent object perpetually invoked, and missed, in consumerist desire. The urn thus becomes an aesthetic artifact, a product of that gesture whereby the museum severs its objects from historical reference and places them in a zone of atemporal, eternal significance. Rather than teaching an eternal truth, the urn returns to viewers the eternity they attribute to it, and as a result, becomes an exemplary statement of the ideology of the museum.
This essay appears in _Hypercanonicity & Pedagogy_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
Despite the prominence of the metaphor of taste in the development of aesthetics, philosophers routinely exclude literal taste from aesthetic theory. This essay investigates the concepts of gustatory and aesthetic pleasure, looking especially at Brillat-Savarin's Physiology of Taste, to interrogate the commonalities and differences between the two sorts of taste. This essay appears in _Romantic Gastronomies_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
Romanticism may be associated with gusto, but it has hardly been recognizedat least within literary circlesas the period that saw the invention of the restaurant and a unique, comic-philosophical genre of writing about food. But in fact Romanticism was coterminous with, and in many ways emblematic of, the culture of sophistication and social positioning we associate with modern gastronomy. This essay appears in _Romantic Gastronomies_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
While largely forgotten today, French-born British culinarian Alexis Soyer (1809-1858), transformed our vision of the chef as a public figure. Like other early celebrity chefs, he first styled himself as a great man of letters, but his dandyism, theatrics, tireless self-fashioning and promotion, and, above all, his widely-read and flatteringly-illustrated books, propelled him toward a new kind of renown. In particular, his humanitarian efforts in the Crimean War, and account thereof in his Culinary Campaign (1857), established that chefs need not pretend to be great writers, to be seen as noteworthy personages – a shift underpinning their later emergence as broadcast stars. This essay appears in _Romantic Gastronomies_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
Henry Stephens Salt (1851-1939) engaged with Percy Shelley's poetry, prose, and ideas in a writing career that spanned a half-century. This essay considers the implications of using this pre-professional cultural critic as a model for contemporary Ecocriticism. Salt is known today as author of a biography of Thoreau and for several prescient books on animal rights; he valued Shelley as "a pioneer of humanitarianism," a term used expansively by Salt to include concerns about health and the natural world. Salt's subjective method became seen as outmoded after T.S. Eliot's infamous attacks on Shelley in The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933). This essay revisits the failure of the ecological imagination in Eliot's critique, and in the imperatives of much subsequent criticism on Shelley and Romanticism.
Romanticism & Ecology
Selected Bibliography of Henry Stephens Salt
William Stroup, Keene State College
My explicit concern in this essay is on Salt as a Shelleyan; yet as I hope my argument makes clear, this title invites and perhaps even demands a wide range of interests and expertise. This selected bibliography is in chronological order, indicating the recurring themes and varied developments of Salt's career.
When Wordsworth notes his faith that "every flower / Enjoys the air it breathes," or when Keats describes an unseen nightingale pouring forth its "soul abroad / In such an ecstasy," we may be inclined to classify these lyrical claims as Romantic hyperbole, rhetorically suspect forms of anthropomorphism, overly sentimental and poetically overblown. Likewise, when Wordsworth's heart fills "with pleasure" at the sight of daffodils, or when Blake says "How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way, / Is an immense world of delight," we may think that the poet is protesting too little or offering too much credit to the natural world for what is, in fact, a strictly "human" emotion. In this essay I will examine Romantic claims about pleasure in the natural world and pleasure derived from the natural world in terms of the "science" of the century before Darwin's On the Origin of Species, particularly the science of animate nature, the belief that all living things (and perhaps even "nonliving" things) were connected by a force that could be described, at least partly, in terms of the natural ability to please or to be pleased. I will conclude with a reflection on connections between the method of observational science in the Romantic period, the writing of poetry, and the sources of pleasure.
This essay is a testing ground for "ambience," exploring the role of space in poetics, ideology and theory, building on the conclusion to the book The Poetics of Spice. Though ecocriticism and ecological philosophy talk about environmental awareness and "interconnectedness," we may not be certain of what we mean by such terms. They should, for example, remind all literary scholars of the idea, and the ideology, of the aesthetic. By closely reading the famous poem "The Star" by Jane Taylor, this essay delineates some of the poetic forms involved in the inscription of environmental awareness, such as minimalism, and the foregrounding of what in structuralism is called the "contact" or medium of communication. The essay investigates the possibility of a "feminine" form of Romantic ecology in contradistinction to more masculinist versions. It uses Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida to counter the representation of ecological awareness in Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. The essay discusses the work on culture and civilization by Geoffrey Hartman and Terry Eagleton to adumbrate the ways in which public space is evoked in environmental poetics. Walter Benjamin's notion of the "dialectical image" is employed to indicate the Janus-faced nature of the poetic and ideological fantasy of "ambience" (or "aura" in Benjamin). In considering William Wordsworth's sonnet "Composed upon Westminster Bridge" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the essay investigates the virtues and vices of ambience, as opposed to a more Burkean, "maximalist" view of the natural world. The essay continues the line of thought explored in David Simpson's Wordsworth and the Figurings of the Real, especially the final section, "Societies of Figures."