1800/2000: Romantic and Postmodern Historicism Syllabus

1800/2000: Romantic and Postmodern Historicisms

Jon Klancher

EN 776-430/830

Tues/Thurs, 1:30-2:50 in OSC 201

Office: Baker 245F, Hours: Tues, Thurs 3-4; Phone: 8-2852

E-mail: jk2@andrew.cmu.edu


Anne Mellor and Richard Matlak, eds., British Literature 1780-1830 (Harcourt)
Zachary Leader, ed., Romantic Period Writings, 1798-1832 (Routledge)
Jerome McGann, The Romantic Ideology (Chicago)
Paul Hamilton, Historicism (Routledge)
William Hazlitt, Selected Writings (Oxford's World Classics)
Walter Scott, Waverley (Penguin)
Packet of xeroxed readings on theory, historiography and historicism, cultural materialism, postmodernism and modernity, Romanticism

Course Aims:

In the 1980s, a "New Historicism" emerged in Renaissance and Romantic studies to challenge previous paradigms in literary study (formalism, structuralism, varieties of poststructuralism) as ahistorical. Influenced by many intellectual currents--anthropological, Foucauldian, Marxist, feminist--New Historicism belonged to a wider "return to history" across the humanities and social sciences. Yet it was quickly turned into business-as-usual in literary studies, appearing to lose its critical edge in the ensuing crisis of the literary canon and the excitement of emerging "cultural studies." By the end of the 1990s, in turn, cultural studies has itself entered a time of testing or crisis. It can and has been argued that the critical edge of cultural studies has itself been blunted by inadequacies of historical memory, or by a rhetoric of anti-disciplinarity that refuses to engage seriously enough with the history of disciplines and fields of cultural production. What might be called a "second-wave" historicism has appeared in recent years, one that's arguably more theoretically explicit and historically self-conscious, in such works as Paul Hamilton's Historicism (1996), James Chandler's England in 1819 (1998), or Carlo Ginzburg's History, Rhetoric, and Proof (1999). This course examines the problems and promises of "historicism" by reopening the question in both theoretical terms and the culture-historical framework of the Romantic age.


Two papers, 7-8 pp. graduate, 5-6 pp. undergraduate, due October 5 and December 2, OR one longer paper, about 12-15 pp. undergrad, 20-25 pp. graduate. In addition to papers, I will assign collaborative projects on aspects of historicism, postmodernism, and romanticism. These will entail both in-class group or panel work and out-of-class productions.

I'd strongly suggest that as you formulate your topics and approaches for these projects, you try to consult a new and spacious reference work for the study of Romanticism, An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture 1776-1832, ed. Iain McCalman (1999), on reserve at Hunt Library.


I. Historicism: Theory and Definitions

Week 1, August 24-26 Introduction: 1800/2000

Tues: Introduction: Why "1800/2000"? Historicism in the Romantic and Postmodern Eras; The Return to History in Literary and Cultural Studies and Recent Work in Romanticism
Thurs: Keywords: "History," "Historiography," "Historicism," "Literary History," "Cultural History" -- Paul Hamilton, Historicism pp. 1-50; Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History" (Illuminations, on reserve)

Week 2, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Historicism and Modernity

Tues: Defining terms: "Modernity," "Modernization," "Modernism(s)" "Enlightenment" -- Hamilton, Historicism pp. 99-132; Karl Marx, from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte pp. 1-26 (on reserve)
Thurs: Edmund Burke, from Reflections on the Revolution in France (in Mellor 13-20); Thomas Paine, from The Rights of Man (Mellor 25-29); Mary Wollstonecraft, from An Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution (Mellor 415-21).
James Chandler, "History" from Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age, 354-61.

Week 3, Sept. 7-9 Historicism and Postmodernity

Tues: Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish (xerox handout)
Hamilton, Historicism 133-75
Thurs: Stephen Greenblatt, "Resonance and Wonder" (on reserve),
Catherine Belsey, "Toward Literary History" (on reserve)

Week 4, Sept. 14-16 Genealogy and the Modern

Tues: Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History" (xerox handout)
David Simpson, "Is Literary History the History of Everything? The Case for 'Antiquarian' History" (from SubStance, 1999, on reserve)
Thurs: Kant, "What Is Enlightenment?" (xeroxed handout)
Foucault, "What Is Enlightenment?" (xeroxed handout from The Foucault Reader)
Jurgen Habermas, "Modernity-An Incomplete Project" (xerox handout 98-108)

II. Historicizing Romanticism: Recent Practices

Week 5, Sept. 21-23 What Was Romantic Idealism?

Tues: Jerome McGann, The Romantic Ideology I-31, 59-92
Wordsworth, "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," "The World Is Too Much With Us," "Ode: Intimations of Immortality";
Thurs: Marjorie Levinson, from The New Historicism: Back to the Future (xerox handout 102-111); "Insight and Oversight" from Wordsworth's Great Period Poems (on reserve)
Jon Klancher, "English Romanticism and Cultural Production" from The New Historicism, ed. Veeser (on reserve)

Week 6, Sept. 28-30 Blake, History, and Production

Tues: Blake, "London" and "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" (Mellor); Heather Glen, "Blake's London: The Language of Experience" (xerox handout 146-57)
McGann, Romantic Ideology pp. 95-152
Thurs: Blake, "The Book of Urizen"; Paul Mann, "Apocalypse or Recuperation? Blake and the Maw of Commerce," ELH (1985, on reserve)

Week 7, Oct. 5-7 Ironies of Empire

Tues: Anna Barbauld, "Eighteen Hundred and Eleven" (1812) (in Mellor); contemporary responses to "!811" (xeroxed handouts)
William Keach, "1811 and the End of Anna Barbauld's Career" in Studies in Romanticism (1994): (Hunt reserve);

Week 8, Oct. 12-14 Historical Romance, Gothic Novel

Tues: Clara Reeve, from The Progress of Romance (1785) (Mellor 152-57); Anna Barbauld, "On the Origin and Progress of Novel-Writing" (1810) (Mellor 171-80); Walter Scott, "Novel and Romance" (xerox handout)
Thurs: M.G. Lewis, The Monk (Oxford World's Classics) (first half)
Simund Freud, "The Uncanny" (on reserve)

Week 9, October 19-21 The Gothic in Question

Tues-Thursday, Lewis, The Monk (second half) ; Fred Botting, from The Gothic, on reserve; James Watt, from The Contested Gothic, selected chapters (on reserve)

Week 10, Oct. 26-28 Scotland and the Uneven Development of Modernity

Tues-Thursday: Walter Scott, Waverley first half; James Chandler, England in 1819, pp. 3-46, 94-150. (on reserve)

Week 11 Nov. 2-4 British Romantic Historicism: A New Comparatism

Tues-Thursday: Scott, Waverley, conclusion;
Chandler, from England in 1819, 303-49 (on reserve)

Week 12 Nov. 9-11 Peterloo and Radical Historicism: August 16, 1819

Tues: T. J. Wooler, The Black Dwarf (in Romantic Period Writings, 6-36); Shelley, "England in 1819," "The Mask of Anarchy," "Song to the Men of England," (in Mellor); Steven Jones, "The Black Dwarf as Satiric Performance" in Romanticism, Radicalism, and the Press pp. 203-14. (all on Hunt reserve); Jon Klancher, The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832, chapter 4 "Radical Representations" (pp. 113-34).
Thurs: William Cobbett, from The Political Register (Xerox handouts);
Kevin Gilmartin, chapters from Print Politics (on reserve)

Week 13, Nov. 16-18 Sociological Historicism: The Field of Romantic Literary Production in 1820

Tues-Thursday: Thomas Peacock, "The Four Ages of Poetry," Percy Shelley, "A Defense of Poetry"; Coleridge, Biographia Literaria in Mellor 745-55, chaps. 3 and 11 on Hunt reserve (in Biographia Literaria);
Pierre Bourdieu, "The Market of Symbolic Goods" and "Principles for a Sociology of Cultural Works," from The Field of Cultural Production (Hunt reserve).

Week 14 Nov. 23-25 Consultations on Research

Individual research project consultations, no class this week.
Thursday: Thanksgiving Holiday

Week 15 Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Debating the Implications of Historicism

Tues/Thursday: Catherine Gallagher, "Marxism and New Historicism",
From Veeser, ed., The New Historicism (on reserve); Jacques Derrida, chapters TBA from The Spectre of Marx (on reserve).

NOTE: Final Papers Due December 7