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Showing posts from August, 2013

Monograph Challenge #16: Reading, Writing and Romanticism

Rather foolishly chose a monograph that is twice as long as most academic offerings, but this is a classic of the field (its arguments have permeated lots of criticism, so it's one of those books whose points were frequently familiar as if through osmosis, even though I haven't read it all the way through before). Anyway.

Title: Lucy Newlyn, Reading, Writing and Romanticism: The Anxiety of Reception (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Methodology: Historicism, cultural critique, reception theory, feminism
Critical Context: Huge, but Harold Bloom (in terms of influence, legacies and canon), Andrew Bennett (in terms of posterity), and lots of contemporary work on rhetoric and reading audiences.
Thesis: Romanticism constructed complex defensive systems of 'reaction formation' against the historical shift in the audience for literature. In particular, authors are anxious about losing control to increasingly anonymous readers.

Newlyn begins by surveying the obvious historic…

40 Monograph Challenge #15: Romantic Satanism

Title: Peter A. Schock, Romantic Satanism: Myth and the Historical Moment in Blake, Shelley and Byron (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Method: conventional literary historicism, no especially foregrounded critical stance
Critical Context: Mario Praz, recent work on Romanticism and mythology (e.g. Butler, Harding), Richard Cronin's work on Shelley
Thesis: Satan was a complex and multi-sided mytheme, and myth must be considered functionally - that is, as a response within a given historical moment

In a Nutshell: As might be expected given the basic thesis, Schock's first move is to reconstruct the cultural matrix through which the figure of Satan was processed. Eighteenth-century theology, rationalist in tenor, was increasingly embarrassed by the doctrine (thus linking in Enlightenment demythologisation), and perhaps more characteristic are the polemical invocations in the political debates of the 1790s where both sides (revolutionary and conservative) accused each other of S…