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Real and Imagined Women in British Romanticism

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Gaura Shankar Narayan

Real and Imagined Women in British Romanticism uses feminist ideology and deconstructive criticism to reconstruct the cultural context embedded in Romantic canonical texts. To achieve this end, the book undertakes a close textual study of these texts and places them in the intellectual context of Mary Wollstonecraft’s critique of culture. As a result of intellectual contextualizing as well as theoretical applications, the Romantic imagination, as represented by William Wordsworth and John Keats, emerges as the place where gender division and gender certitude break down. This book intervenes in the traditional critical debates about the Romantic imagination to show that the Romantic imagination, as set forth in these texts, registers the vigorous cultural politics of gender and aesthetics that defined the 1790s and continued to exert influence for decades.

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Endnotes R Introduction 1 In his article, Peckham defines Romanticism as “the revolution in the European mind against thinking in terms of static mechanism and the redirection of the mind to thinking in terms of dynamic organicism.” Morse Peckham, “Toward a Theory of Romanticism,” PMLA Vol. 66 (March 1951): 14. 2 Jerome McGann’s The Romantic Ideology: A Critical Investigation (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1983) is a pioneering work in the attempt to destabilize a single monolithic identity for Romanticism. Other notable scholars and scholarly works that engage in historicist scholarship and pursue similar arguments are: John Barrell, Poetry, Language, and Politics (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988); Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels, and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760–1830 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1981); Jerome Christensen, Romanticism at the End of History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2000); Jeffrey N. Cox, Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School: Keats, Shelley, Hunt and Their Circle (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999); Adriana Craciun, British Women Writers and the French Revolution: Citizens of the World. Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005); Kelvin Everest, English Romantic Poetry: An Introduction to the Historical Context and the Literary Scene (Milton Keynes: Open Univ. Press, 1990); Maria J. Falco, Feminist Interpretations of Mary Wollstonecraft: Rereading the Canon (Univ. Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1996); Tom Furniss, Edmund Burke’s Aesthetic Ideology: Language, Gender and Political Economy in Revolution, Cambridge Studies in Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993)...

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