Introduction: Teaching Global Romanticism

The essays on Teaching Global Romanticism collected here present varied approaches to teaching Romanticism in a global context through individual assignments, units, and syllabi. The contributors share ways to enrich pedagogical approaches to Romantic literature and culture with texts and ideas from beyond Britain and America. These essays discuss how literature guides students’ engagement with international themes and issues in the Romantic period and after. The initiative for this volume began under the leadership of William Stroup.

Wollstonecraft's Antigone

This essay uses recent feminist work on Antigone to investigate a feminist poetics within Wollstonecraft's Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, her last completed work. It simultaneously understands the Antigone we have inherited from the early nineteenth century as, in fact, following in Wollstonecraft's wake. The shared feminist poetics of these two works holds together grief and rage (as grievance) in forms that resemble melodrama and voices that claim to live always.

The Philosopher and Her Poor: Wollstonecraft, Rancière, and the Rights and Duties of Humanity

"The Philosopher and Her Poor: Wollstonecraft, Rancière, and the Rights and Duties of Humanity" argues that Wollstonecraft asserts rights not as the corrective of localized wrongs (and thus the mirror image of the dominant order), but as the necessary correlative of duties. By formulating women’s work as duty—a form of rational, voluntary obligation that entails reciprocal relations, including rights—Wollstonecraft recasts the ostensibly apolitical obligations of women as the actions of the political subjects they already are. By shifting focus from the entitlement to rights to the performance of duty,  Wollstonecraft ties rights to the realization of one’s human capacities rather than status (wealth, rank, sex, or even humanity as mere species membership). She thereby creates the basis for a revolutionary political order that does not simply extend the prerogatives of an unjust status quo to new claimants but overturns the very structures that disbar women from exercising their rights.

Introduction: Mary Wollstonecraft Even Now

Introduction: Mary Wollstonecraft Even Now

Wollstonecraft, Mother of Feminist Memes

This essay theorizes the conceptual and iconic power of the feminist meme, from Mary Wollstonecraft's writing and reception to twenty-first-century presidential and election politics in the age of the internet.

Care: For Wollstonecraft

"Care: For Wollstonecraft" situates the feminist legacy of Wollstonecraft’s life works in contemporary discourses and practices of care in order to foreground the still-radical implications of her concepts of mothering, women’s writing, and passional activism. Fictional works frame her critiques of marriage within the broad context of care, both for impoverished communities and against the social institutions that diminish especially women’s capacities to care. Nonfictional and fictional works posit the linkage between women’s writing and good mothering as the chief vehicle of psychosocial reform, one that, in textualizing the biological and personalizing the sociopolitical, greatly expands notions of what a mother is and what good-enough mothering entails. At the same time, the essay argues that caring for Wollstonecraft involves confronting the severe hazards that this linkage created for Wollstonecraft and her progeny as a way of underscoring both why care is neither a safe topic nor a safe practice and why Wollstonecraft’s feminism is not as heteronormative or bourgeois as frequently is alleged.

Mary Wollstonecraft, Feminist Killjoy

This essay takes up the longstanding association between Wollstonecraft, feminism, and joylessness via feminist critic Sara Ahmed’s ironic appropriation of the term “feminist killjoy.” I argue that Wollstonecraft’s specific claim to being a killjoy can be traced to the mid-twentieth century, when two American ego psychologists, obsessed with what they called Wollstonecraft’s “twisted personality,” seized on her personal biography with a determined vengeance in their book Modern Woman: The Lost Sex (1947), and forged the still unbreakable link between Wollstonecraft and the annihilation of joy.

The Radicalism of Queenship: Mary Wollstonecraft and Alternative Sources of the Rights of Women

"The Radicalism of Queenship" calls attention to Mary Wollstonecraft’s engagement with exceptional historical women, focusing especially on her comments on royal women such as Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark and Norway. In highlighting how Wollstonecraft found it useful to think with royal women, the paper suggests the importance of placing Wollstonecraft—and feminism more broadly—within many different and often complimentary philosophical approaches and traditions. The paper then charts the role that queens and other elite women have played in the emergence and articulation of western feminisms, focusing especially on developments in Britain.

'Still Here'

Ever since Paul de Man’s “Shelley Disfigured,” we have come to see Percy Shelley’s final, unfinished poem, “The Triumph of Life,” as a symptom of the end of Romanticism and Romanticism as end. If or once things are over, why bother to re-visit the end? This is one of many questions Shelley’s poem compels its readers to ask, which is in turn to ask why we any longer need to re-visit the poem at this a time when so little apparently rests on our doing so. So, as if to prolong the idea of an end (whatever that might be), this volume is comprised of four essays compelled to return to the same poem, as if to read the poem as a crime scene that leaves a barrage of clues, none of them adding up to a crime, but each lingering differently with Shelley as Shelley lingers with life and history and as we linger (or not) with the shadows his future casts (or not) upon our present moment, which seems more than ever beyond our grasp, if it ever was within our ken. Why even bother? But then again, and just in case: if so little and so much is at stake, why not?

On the Currency of Images: Percy Shelley’s Minor Event

This is an essay about a minor event in a major poem. I hope to demonstrate how the minor event of a detached poetic image offers us a way of understanding what is in back of or behind the proto-cinematic energies on display in The Triumph of Life (1822). And I am also interested in exploring the inverse proposition: can the “minor” lyricism of our own contemporary cinema open a means of beholding the image-event in Shelley’s poem? If this second possibility is realized, perhaps it is possible to discern in these past poetic and present cinematic images a form of historical “circuitry” that reveals something about the agency or “currency” of images. I want to propose that the currency of the poetic image is best understood by what Roland Barthes identified as the obtus or “third meaning,” a glimmering residue of the stilled cinematic image that offers the point of contact for the current that circulates between the literary and cinematic modes of image production.