Aesthetic Materialism: Electricity and American Romanticism - download pdf or read online

By Paul Gilmore

Aesthetic Materialism: electrical energy and American Romanticism specializes in American romantic writers' makes an attempt to theorize aesthetic adventure throughout the language of electrical energy. in line with clinical 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 members. Writers similar to Whitman, Melville, and Douglass drew on photographs of electrical energy and telegraphy to explain literature either because the fabricated from particular fiscal and social stipulations and as a method of transcending the person made up our minds via such stipulations. Aesthetic Materialism strikes among historic and cultural research and shut textual interpreting, difficult readers to determine American literature as right away formal and old and as a fabricated from either aesthetic and fabric adventure.

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Yet, despite reflecting significant cultural, social, and economic changes in the Anglo-American world, James’s example does not represent the foreclosure of aesthetic experience as potentially leading to a more energized form of social engagement. While electricity would largely, but not completely, retreat as a vehicle for thinking about aesthetic experience, alternative concrete figures—based in the changing material realities and our perceptions of them—would continue to offer the possibility of constructing aesthetic experience in the terms I have described.

During the last few years my work has grown by coordinating this group with Greg Jackson, Eric Hayot, and Sharon Oster. I’ve learned an incredible amount from all participants, especially the most regular regulars, Mark McGurl, Elisa Tamarkin, Mark Goble, and Sianne Ngai. ” Again, I’d like to thank Roy Ritchie and the staff at the Huntington, especially Carolyn Powell and Susi Krasnoo, for all their help and support. The scholars who participated, through their papers, their questions and comments, and their conversation, helped me to conceive the broader context for this work: Nancy Bentley, Bill Brown, Russ Castronovo, James Dawes, Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Wai Chee Dimock, Rob Kaufman, Dana Nelson, Sam Otter, Nancy Ruttenburg, and Eric Sundquist.

In the aesthetic experience, the self seems to recede, as individuals give themselves over to the object (or, more properly, the perception of the object), and thus are left feeling as though anyone would have the same reaction. In that moment, it is inconceivable that anyone would not recognize the beauty, the sublimity, the humor, the ugliness of the thing perceived. The perceiving subject, in other words, recognizes no basis for this judgment in his or her particular interests, investments, desires.

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