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Theory and Practice: Romantic Rhetoric and the Artist


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My presentation from the 2008 Practical Criticism Midwest Conference. I explore the nature of the Romantic Fragment and its correlation to Romantic Rhetoric.

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Theory and Practice: Romantic Rhetoric and the Artist

  1. 1. Casey R. McArdle
  2. 2. Thomas Peacock “The Four Ages of Poetry” The Romantics are “studiously ignorant of history, society, and human nature” (Peacock 692).
  3. 3. Percy Shelley “A Defence of Poetry”
  4. 4. VS.
  5. 5. Romantic Theory  Emphasis from Within  Internal inspiration  Poetry as a Creative Process  The poem is the process  The Romantic Fragment  The deteriorating internal spark
  6. 6. Timeline
  7. 7. Emphasis from Within  The cultivation of those sciences which have enlarged the limits of the empire of man over the external world, has, for want of the poetical faculty, proportionally circumscribed those of the internal world; and man, having enslaved the elements, remains himself a slave… Poetry is indeed something divine. It is at once the centre and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which all science must be referred. (Shelley 712 & 713)
  8. 8. William Wordsworth “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
  9. 9. Emphasis from Within Wordsworth A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 5 Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: 10 Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, 15 In such a jocund company: I gazed – and gazed – but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought: (Wordsworth 207)
  10. 10. Poetry as a Creative Process Percy Shelley “Ozymandias”
  11. 11. Poetry as a Creative Process Shelley My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, 10 Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing Beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The tone and level sands stretch far away.” (Shelley 103)
  12. 12. The Romantic Fragment Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Kubla Khan”
  13. 13. The Romantic Fragment Coleridge And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced: Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst 20 Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail: And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. Allegedly, the poem was never finished as he was interrupted by the stranger from Porlock.
  14. 14. Closing Thoughts  Rex Veeder’s “Romantic Rhetoric and the Rhetorical Tradition.” (1997) Although the general idea of British Romantic theory is that it argues for the outpouring of emotion, the actual rhetorical practices of the Romantics were based upon a political philosophy that advocated contemplation and deliberation; and once we understand the political philosophy informing British Romanticism, it is difficult to believe romantic rhetoric is simply expression. In broad terms the Romantic version of social action is gradual social change brought about by the habit of applying contemplation to individual concerns and the individual’s relationship to society. In this view contemplation and deliberation are not an escape or a purposeless activity. They are instead the very foundation of organic growth in a society. (Veeder 302)
  15. 15. Works Cited  Bahti, Timothy. “Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ and the Fragment of Romanticism.” MLN 96.5 (1981): 1035-1050.  Coleridge, Samuel. “Kubla Khan.” The Harvard Classics: English Poetry Vol. II. Ed. Charles W. Eliot. Connecticut: The Easton Press, 2001. 718-719.  Ford, Newell F. “The Wit in Shelley’s Poetry.” Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900 1.4 (1961): 1-22.  McGann, Jerome J. The Romantic Ideology: A Critical Investigation. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.  Milne, Fred L. “Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’: A Metaphor for the Creative Process.” South Atlantic Review 51.4 (1986): 17-29.  Murray, Roger N. Wordsworth’s Style. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1967.  Owen, W.J.B. Wordsworth as Critic. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969.  Peacock, Thomas. “The Four Ages of Poetry.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Eds.Vincent B. Leitch et al. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001. 682-695.  Shelley, Percy. “A Defence of Poetry.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Eds.Vincent B. Leitch et al. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001. 695-717.  ---. Shelley’s Poetry and Prose. Eds. Donald H. Reiman and Sharon B. Powers. New York: W.W. Norton, 1977.  Veeder, Rex L. “Romantic Rhetoric and the Rhetorical Tradition.” Rhetoric Review 15.2 (1997): 300-320.  Ware, Tracy. “Shelley’s Platonism in ‘A Defence of Poetry.’” Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900 23.4 (1983): 549-566.  Wordsworth, William. Selected Poems. Ed. John O. Hayden. New York: Penguin, 1994.
  16. 16. Images Cited  Peacock  Coleridge  Real peacock  Pipe  Shelley  Ozy  Wordsworth  Cloud  Daffodils  Ozy2  Shelley2  Desert  Fountain