Read e-book online Aesthetic Materialism: Electricity and American Romanticism PDF

By Paul Gilmore

ISBN-10: 080476123X

ISBN-13: 9780804761239

Aesthetic Materialism: electrical energy and American Romanticism specializes in American romantic writers' makes an attempt to theorize aesthetic event throughout the language of electrical energy. in keeping with medical and technological advancements, such a lot particularly the telegraph, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century electric imagery mirrored the mysterious workings of the actual brain in addition to the doubtful, occasionally stunning connections among contributors. Writers similar to Whitman, Melville, and Douglass drew on photos of electrical energy and telegraphy to explain literature either because the made of particular monetary and social stipulations and as a way of transcending the person made up our minds through such stipulations. Aesthetic Materialism strikes among old and cultural research and shut textual studying, demanding readers to determine American literature as right now formal and ancient and as a manufactured from either aesthetic and fabric experience.

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Extra info for Aesthetic Materialism: Electricity and American Romanticism

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28 With its connections to currency, to the flow of goods throughout the Atlantic world, and its potential to represent both a universal physical medium and an equally accessible, specifically human sensibility, electricity and its symbolic uses hint at these intersecting, sometimes contradictory forces. Despite his lifelong antipathy towards the emerging market order, Coleridge’s electric figures of the 1790s grew directly out of these various connections. 29 In Biographia Literaria (1817), he dismisses the idea that electricity is the vital force as simply the latest manifestation of materialistic and mechanical associationist psychology.

14 As historian James Delbourgo century—to reincorporate ideas of free will and Christian theology with an emphasis on a mechanically determined physical world. Accounting for the intersection between a physical world and a spiritual realm—between mechanistic determinism and free choice—associationists frequently turned to electricity. Hartley, for example, cited electricity “as a Clue and Guide . . ”11 As a subtle aether permeating the universe, electricity offered a bridge between the physical and the spiritual, between the inanimate world of Newtonian physics and life itself.

While Coleridge’s romantic electricity illustrated an eternal law of structure and opposition that should be replicated in a traditional hierarchical society, spiritualists’ more sentimentalized telegraph revealed a vast egalitarian spiritual union. In both cases, however, the individual experiences of historical forces, social stratification, and lived bodily (sensuous, aesthetic) existence were sublimated in favor of the universal truth they suggested—either the universal law governing all relations or the reduction of human life and differences to a spiritual equality.

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Aesthetic Materialism: Electricity and American Romanticism by Paul Gilmore


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