2016-2017 Faculty Fellow: Mark Canuel, UIC Department of English
"British Romanticism and the Fate of Progress"
Romantic writers often appropriated the narratives of cultural progress—emphasizing improvements in science, technology, and manners—which they had inherited from the eighteenth century. At the same time, they frequently refused the conclusions of those writers, showing how the political world was far too fractious and divided to assume a uniform advancement over time. In this paper, I show how many of Keats’s poems take part in this general trend. His works proudly participate in a “grand march of the intellect,” but their sense of cultural advancement finally depends only on undermining, questioning, or even emptying the content of their enlightened quest.
Mark Canuel is Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His publications include Religion, Toleration, and British Writing (Cambridge UP 2002) and The Shadow of Death: Literature, Romanticism, and the Subject of Punishment (Princeton UP 2007) which studies the relationship between debates about the death penalty and modern notions of political sovereignty.