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Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature

Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 232
  • Book Info
    Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature
    Book Description:

    Oerlemans extends current eco-critical views by synthesizing a range of viewpoints from the Romantic period

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7946-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION Romanticism, Environmentalism, and the Material Sublime
    (pp. 3-29)

    Literary criticism of the past decade has begun to define clearly what many students of the romantic period have long assumed: that romanticism is an important origin for environmentalist thought. That many romantic-period writers expressed profound interest in the natural world has always been obvious. Their distinctive passion was marked by the rage for the picturesque tour, a pronounced interest in landscape painting, the celebration and detailed descriptions of natural settings, a seeming rejection-of the city and the culture it represented, as well as a notable interest in the physical sciences. We easily recognize too the influence of thesetting...

  5. I The End of the World: Wordsworth, Nature, Elegy
    (pp. 30-64)

    Over the past forty years, Geoffrey Hartman has most influentially shaped our understanding of Wordsworth as a poet preoccupied with ‘nature.’ InThe Unmediated VisionandWordsworth’s PoetryHartman depicts the poet’s struggle between understanding how the external world shaped his consciousness, and liberating his imagination from the essential passivity and materiality of the ‘soul’ that this influence implies. Though he does not cite Freud in either study, Hartman’s account of Wordsworth’s development as a poet is Oedipal in so far as it narrates the psychological drama of poetic consciousness freeing itself from the paternal and maternal influences of Milton...

  6. II The Meanest Thing That Feels: Anthropomorphizing Animals in Romanticism
    (pp. 65-97)

    The previous chapter presented Wordsworth’s occasional confrontations with nature as pure materiality as a way of de-idealizing the poet. Wordsworth’s deep recognition of nature’s ‘otherness’ is an important insight not just for romantic studies but also for ecologically oriented criticism, which itself too easily slips into versions of idealism. This chapter presents another complicating move consistent with my more general aim of surveying ways in which the otherness of nature is recognized within romanticism. If the physical world can be seen in the poetry of Wordsworth, for instance, as a realm at some level inimical to being rather than as...

  7. III Shelleyʼs Ideal Body: Vegetarianism, Revolution, and Nature
    (pp. 98-122)

    We have seen in the previous two chapters how investigating nature, developing an openness to its physical presence and complexity, has included an awareness of diversity as a deep property of the natural world which is difficult for us to recognize. This diversity has been approached, in the romantic period, by recognizing the contiguous otherness of animal being, and by recognizing the metaphysical and epistemological difficulties involved in trying to construct an order of things from the data of the physical world. Indeed, the ability of individual writers of the period to think through, to defamiliarize and deconstruct, the established...

  8. IV Romanticism and the Metaphysics of Classification
    (pp. 123-147)

    In 1991 a report in the science journalNaturepresented genetic evidence that the red wolf is a hybrid of the grey wolf and the coyote. As reported in theNew York Times Magazine,¹ the red wolf seemed thus to be a ‘mutt’ rather than a genuine species, a population with a distinct and long-lived genotype. This mattered because the red wolf was just being reintroduced in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, part of a program supported by the US Endangered Species Act. The Act does not allow for intervention on behalf of hybrids; only the preservation of ‘true...

  9. V Moving through the Environment: Travel and Romanticism
    (pp. 148-199)

    I have to this point focused my attention almost exclusively on romantic depictions of the natural world in poetry of the period. We think of poetry as the most refined, the most literary and thus mediated, of literary genres, and thus perhaps the least well suited to anything like the kind of empirical awareness that I have been arguing is a consistent impulse within the period - an attempt to look through culture and artifice at whatever is really there in the physical world, whether that presence is threatening or comfortingly similar to human being. Part of my argument has...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 200-210)

    Conclusions are appealing for readers but frustrating for writers. The scientific model is for conclusions to present the essential kernel of what has been learned, that which has been shown to be true. A good conclusion reveals the single underlying argument that ultimately holds all the preceding material together. What reader does not welcome it? Such a conclusion is all we really need to remember of the work in general. On the other hand, it is a tried but tired rhetorical gesture for writers in the humanities to forego even the possibility of such a conclusion. We often feel that...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 211-232)
    (pp. 233-246)
  13. Index
    (pp. 247-253)