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Home > Catalog > Science and Sensation in Romantic Poetry
Science and Sensation in Romantic Poetry


  • Page extent: 308 pages
  • Size: 229 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.45 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521188692)

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$41.99 (C)

Wordsworth, Blake, Coleridge and Keats were deeply interested in how perception and sensory experience operate. Noel Jackson tracks this preoccupation through the Romantic period and beyond, both in relation to late eighteenth-century human sciences, and in the context of momentous social transformations in the period of the French Revolution.


Introduction: lyrical forms and empirical realities: reading Romanticism's 'language of the sense'; Part I. Senses of History: Between the Mind and the World: 1. Powers of suggestion: sensation, revolution, and Romantic aesthetics; 2. The 'sense of history' and the history of the senses: periodizing perception in Wordsworth and Blake; Part II. Senses of Community: Lyric Subjectivity and 'The Culture of the Feelings'; 3. Critical conditions: Coleridge, 'common sense', and the literature of self-experiment; 4. Sense and consensus: Wordsworth, aesthetic culture, and the poet-physician; Part III. The Persistence of the Aesthetic: Afterlives of Romanticism: 5. John Keats and the sense of the future; 6. More than a feeling? Walter Pater, Wilkie Collins, and the legacies of Wordsworthian aesthetics; Select bibliography.


"Noel Jackson, in his outstanding Science and Sensation in Romantic Poetry, answers the questions that 'The Affective Fallacy' leaves hanging and does so by resorting to romantic forebears: why did matters of feeling and perception press so strongly on scientists, politicians and poets at this historical juncture and, more searchingly, what larger implications - and legacies - are entailed when we ask poetry to 'make us feel?'...The mutual emergence and co-implication of romantic poetics and romantic-era science of the nervous system serve to anchor Jackson's analysis. His remarkable archival work and theoretical sophistication are marshaled around a series of organizing terms: suggestion, autonomy, common sense, and consent (or consensus). All these terms, Jackson shows convincingly, are implicated in the period understanding of what it is to feel and make feel."
-Mary Favret, "The Study of Affect and Romanticism," Literature Compass 6 (2009)

"I found myself won over by this book. Jackson is continually incisive, and Romantic poetry as he sees it actively and thoughtfully positions itself within its own critical history. As a spirited defense of Romantic aesthetics, Science and Sensation in Romantic Poetry shows the extent to which even Romantic sensation was conditioned by the science of the era."
-Richard Sha, The Wordsworth Circle (Autumn 2008)

"Positioned between phenomenological and materialist approaches, Noel Jackson's Science and Sensation in Romantic Poetry stresses Romanticism's language of embodied sensual experience and re-establishes its crucial ties to eighteenth-century empirical philosophy's effort to delineate how the mind and the emotions function...In chapters on William Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats, Jackson argues that writing is a "suggestive practice" through which chiefly political ideas may be communicated to other subjects (p. 49); that Coleridgean lyric, affiliated with the analytic orientation of eighteenth-century common sense philosophy, joins self-expression and self-observation to dramatize self-consciousness as suspended between the subject speaking and the subject being observed; and that Keats's familiarity with early brain theory enables an aesthetic practice in which the sensuous and the abstract, like the mind and the nervous system, are mutually dependent...[An] impressive study."
-Dianne F. Sadoff and John Kucich, "Recent Studies in the Nineteenth Century," SEL: Studies in English Literature (Autumn 2009)

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