Secularism, Cosmopolitanism, and Romanticism
This volume of Romantic Circles Praxis Series includes an editor's introduction by Colin Jager, essays by Mark Canuel, Colin Jager, Paul Hamilton, and Bruce Robbins.
This volume begins to unpack the relationships among the three terms of its title. Despite its air of neutrality, "secularism" is increasingly understood to have its own interests, particularly when it comes to defining and managing the "religious." And, thanks to its constitutive relationship to modernity, romanticism is invested in secularism, not least in those moments typically coded as "spiritual" or "religious." Cosmopolitanism, too, bears a vexed relationship to a period typically associated with nationalism. Finally, secularism and cosmopolitanism are themselves related in surprising ways, both historically and conceptually. Do they pursue the same project? Do they diverge? How and when? And how does romantic writing figure such alignments? These are the questions motivating the three essays in this volume. Reaching beyond a religious-secular binary, Paul Hamilton analyzes romantic conversation as a form of the "nonsecular." Mark Canuel's essay on Coleridge shows how fear was authorized and placed within the secular institutional framework of the nation state. And Colin Jager's essay on Byron and Occidentalism dwells on the norm of reflexivity as an index of a modern, secular, reaction to religious orthodoxy. As Bruce Robbins points out in his response, all three essays attest to the Janus-faced nature of Romanticism's engagement with secularism and cosmopolitanism. Always on the verge of taking a familiar path (nationalism, spiritualization), romanticism's restless critical and institutional energies also find ways to disrupt those susceptibilities.
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About the Romantic Circles Praxis Series
The Romantic Circles Praxis Series is devoted to using computer technologies for the contemporary critical investigation of the languages, cultures, histories, and theories of Romanticism. Tracking the circulation of Romanticism within these interrelated domains of knowledge, RCPS recognizes as its conceptual terrain a world where Romanticism has, on the one hand, dissolved as a period and an idea into a plurality of discourses and, on the other, retained a vigorous, recognizable hold on the intellectual and theoretical discussions of today. RCPS is committed to mapping out this terrain with the best and mo st exciting critical writing of contemporary Romanticist scholarship.
About the Contributors
Colin Jager is associate professor of English at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Book of God: Secularization and Design in the Romantic Era. Other recent essays include "After the Secular: The Subject of Romanticism" in Public Culture (2006); "A Poetics of Dissent; or, Pantisocracy in America" in Theory and Event (2007); and "Romanticism/Secularization/Secularism" in Blackwell Literature Compass (2008).
[go to introduction or essay]
Mark Canuel is Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is author of Religion, Toleration, and British Writing, 1790-1830 (Cambridge, 2002), and The Shadow of Death: Literature, Romanticism, and the Subject of Punishment (Princeton, 2007).
Paul Hamilton is a Professor of English at London University. His last book was Coleridge and German Philosophy (Continuum, 2007). He is currently working on a study of comparative Romantic theory.
Bruce Robbins teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His most recent book is Upward Mobility and the Common Good (Princeton, 2007).