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


  • Page extent: 308 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.62 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 821/.709353
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PR590 .J33 2008
  • LC Subject headings:
    • English poetry--19th century--History and criticism
    • English poetry--18th century--History and criticism
    • Senses and sensation in literature
    • Mind and body in literature
    • Perception in literature

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521869379)

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$113.00 (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.

Prize Winner

Shortlist, British Society for Literature and Science Book Prize 2008


"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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