Romanticism, Enthusiasm, And Regulation: Poetics And The Policing Of Culture In The Romantic Period

Paperback | July 15, 2005

byJon Mee

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What is enthusiasm? Enthusiasm for most of the eighteenth century was identified with excess of religious feeling, although it came increasingly to be used to describe the unregulated and infectious urgings of the crowd more generally. Yet there was a developing alternative understanding ofthe term which identified it with a therapeutic influx of feeling in an increasingly formalistic and commodified world. This understanding came to be particularly identified with poetry. Enthusiasm was deemed a necessary condition of poetry by the end of the century, but not a sufficient one. Forwithout proper regulation, poetic enthusiasm might become nothing more than the formless emotionalism of the crowd that the literary elite perceived all around them. Although enthusiasm might be thought of as a distinctly Romantic term, this study looks at the way the inherited discourse ofenthusiasm structured most writing of the Romantic period. Many of those new to writing as a career in the period took enthusiasm to licence their feelings as a legitimate basis for turning to print. Others took this as an alarming version of the old virus. Few elite writers, Coleridge andWordsworth included, did not take pains to show they were on the right side of the fence that separate the noble enthusiasm of the poet from either the fanaticism of the crowd or the undisciplined pretensions of hacks and scribblers. Understanding the influence of these processes of regulation andthe difficulty faced by writers in clearly articulating the difference they were meant to enshrine is at the centre of Romanticism, Enthusiasm, and Regulation.

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What is enthusiasm? Enthusiasm for most of the eighteenth century was identified with excess of religious feeling, although it came increasingly to be used to describe the unregulated and infectious urgings of the crowd more generally. Yet there was a developing alternative understanding ofthe term which identified it with a therapeuti...

Jone Mee is Margaret Candfield Fellow in English at University College, Oxford, and C. U. F. Lecturer in the Faculty of English, University of Oxford.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.76 inPublished:July 15, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199284784

ISBN - 13:9780199284788

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Situating EnthusiasmI. The Discourse on Enthusiasm1. Commanding Enthusiasm through the Eighteenth Century2. Enthusiasm, Liberty, and Benevolence in the 1790sII. The Poetics of Enthusiasm3. Coleridge, Prophecy, and Imagination4. Barbauld, Devotion, and the Woman Prophet5. Wordsworth's Chastened Enthusiasm6. Energy and Enthusiasm in BlakeConclusion: Enthusiastic Misreadings

Editorial Reviews

`Jon Mee has devoted his life to the study of enthusiasm. Twelve years ago, he rocketed onto the Romantic scene with his first book, Dangerous Enthusiasm, which turned out to be one of the best Blake books of the decade. A series of articles on Coleridge and other visionary writers continuedto fan the flames of his following, and now he has satisfied us with Romanticism, Enthusiasm, and Regulation. . . . Mee's book is an important contribution to understanding emotion in the 18th century.'Jennifer Wallace, Times Higher Education Supplement