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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: May 2009

4 - The problem of periodization: Enlightenment, Romanticism and the fate of system

from Part I - The Ends of Enlightenment
History followed the developmental logic of Kant's vision, he argued that his present 'age of enlightenment' would lead to 'an enlightened age', and Romanticism as the next period would realize rather than rejection. The technology of Enlightenment is writing; the tools are the forms that writing assumed in the eighteenth century; the procedures are the characteristic ways those forms mixed. Throughout the eighteenth century, writers maintained a Baconian caution regarding the use of system. The historicizing of Romanticism thus has been, and is, part of the process of historicizing literature, and thus a way of providing a touchstone for all of the volumes of the New Cambridge History. The period played a substantial role in drawing the other lines that have made Romanticism into a recognizable whole: generations, gender and genre. The purpose of embedding system into other forms was to allow its principles to travel into new areas of inquiry.
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The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
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