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Showing posts from December, 2014

Other Romantics

This year I gave myself the task of reading more deeply in the 'minor' Romantics. Whether for good or bad, I didn't do a Romantic Studies MA (opting for theory and interdisciplinarity instead), and despite carving out a bit of a niche in Romantic women's writing, I have generally stayed pretty canonical and this was an attempt to patch a few holes.
As usual with these things, life got a little bit in the way (I still have a forlorn and unopened edition of Hazlitt on my shelf), but here are the links to the seven authors I did manage to have a good crack at: A Bit on Robert Southey (on exile, elegy and politics)A Bit on Mary Robinson: Blindness, Sensation, EmpiricismA Bit on Charles Lamb: Perfect and Imperfect SolitudeA Bit on John Thelwall: Jacobin RevisionsA Bit on John Clare: Alternate TopographiesA Bit on Leigh Hunt: Passion and MaterialismA Bit on L.E.L.: Eroticism and Style

And, although it's cheating somewhat, since I did this research for a talk at the Royal…

A Bit on L.E.L.: Eroticism and Style

We recently had a esteemed visiting speaker at the Penryn Campus, who spoke about the eroticism of the tuberose (a heavily perfumed flower) in late Victorian/decadent poetry. My question was about a distinction in the way sensuosity seemed to work in the verse she was discussing, which played into some of my previous work on D.H. Lawrence and John Donne. There's an eroticism of laying bare, of exposure, of consummation. But there's also an eroticism of anticipation, deferral, and lingering. Depending on how you look at it, and how the erotic works in a particular text, either one could be 'more' erotic and indeed either one could be, in fact, 'non-erotic'.

So, for example, one can privilege deferral over exposure in the sense that, for instance, the half-veiled body is more sensuous than the starkly naked one. The erotic lies in the drawing out of the moment. Possession destroys the erotic (the problem of the post-coital, in Donne, for instance.) Conversely, on…

Seminar Notes #11 (Rider Haggard)

Only one week to go!

This week was on Rider Haggard's imperial romance, King Solomon's Mines.

1. Rider Haggard, Novel(ty), Origin. One interesting segment of discussion considered the novel's immense - and perhaps puzzling - popularity. One way of thinking about this, which one seminar pursued, is to trace the differences between 'high' and 'low/mass' culture, noting chains of association (e.g. depth vs. surface, reflection vs. consumption, slowness vs. speed, permanence versus ephemerality). The other is to think about what literary newness or novelty is. One model that has stuck with me, after studying it at MA level, is the Russian Formalist Yuri Tynyanov's ideas around dialectical literary history, whereby every literary mode stagnates, but contains within it the seeds out of which an opposed, experimental way of writing will emerge: 'every dynamic system inevitably becomes automised, and dialectically delineates the opposite constructive princi…