“Lucretius Taken Lightly: Women’s Educations and the Radical Materialist Joke.” Representations 159 (Summer 2022): 34-57.
Exploring literary forms through radical materialist lenses can animate notions of subjectivity beyond agential autonomy; however, the radical materialist joke is a form that disappoints this transgressive promise in the long eighteenth century by recurring to previously established logics of individuation and, specifically, patrilineal inheritance, in order to ensure humor that resonates. Jokes through and about Lucretius, which are also arch commentaries on women’s inadequate educations from Aphra Behn, Anne Ingram, and Mary Robinson, reveal a rift between the joke as a potentially democratizing, radical material form and the joke as a boundary-setting exercise.
“Coleridge Tripping: the Biographia Literaria and Proprioceptive Self-Possession.” Studies in Romanticism 59 (Summer 2020): 185-208.
If William Wordsworth’s depersonalizing poetry draws on Spinoza’s radical materialism, then Samuel Taylor Coleridge does not approve of how poet interprets philosopher. In Coleridge’s criticism, disappointed reading becomes the affective measure by which Wordsworth’s poems fail to model self-restraint as a (properly Spinozist) means of preserving the power and integrity of other people.
“Listening not Listening: William Wordsworth and the Radical Materiality of Sound.” European Romantic Review 28.3 (2017): 315-324.
This essay reconsiders the political stakes of William Wordsworth’s 1803 sonnet, “To Toussaint L’Ouverture,” by reading its representation of the legacy of the imprisoned Haitian military leader, Toussaint Louverture, through a Spinozist conception of the affections.
“‘Let us not therefore go hurrying about’: Towards an Aesthetics of Passivity in Keats’s Poetics.” European Romantic Review 25.3 (2014): 309-318.
This essay explores passivity as a dynamic attitude for Keats. Taking as a point of departure the poet’s use of passivity as a compelling force in two of his letters, I argue that the oft-discussed connection between Wordsworth’s “wise passiveness” and Keats’s “negative capability” has led scholars to overlook Keats’s own notion of passivity as a persuasive, as well as receptive, force.
“Affect Theory: Omnibus Review” in The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, eds. Emelia Quinn and Ranjan Ghosh (Oxford University Press, 2022): 1-17.
This chapter surveys important studies in affect theory published in 2021. I position these studies along a tentative spectrum, from affect’s embrace to its dissatisfactions, while also noting other scholarly conversations into which affect has lately entered, notably autotheory and the emergent idea of ‘vibe theory’.
“Reading and the Sociality of Disappointing Affects in Jane Austen” in Affect Theory and Literary Critical Practice: A Feel For the Text, ed. Stephen Ahern (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019): 85-104.
Triggered by disrupted anticipation and followed by a sense of downward momentum, the form of disappointment is a felt trajectory: an affective descent that Jane Austen deploys because of the dynamic kinds of relationality that its embodiment—stumbling, falling—allows her to convey.
Aleksondra Hultquist reviews the collection here.
“‘that strong excepted soul’: Nineteenth-century Women
Read Keats” in Keats’s Negative Capability: New Origins and Afterlives, eds. Brian Rejack and Michael Theune (Liverpool UP, 2019): 60-78.
This chapter explores early nineteenth-century women readers of Keats, whose reflections on the poet’s life and achievements characterize the gap between his 1821 death and the publication and wider circulation of his letters. The women, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, and, to a lesser extent, Mary Shelley, provide an archive of critical perspectives on Keats’s legacy and early reception that both challenges and reinforces the by-now canonical accounts of his male contemporaries.
Review of James Noggle, Unfelt: The Language of Affect in the British Enlightenment (Cornell University Press, 2020)
A recent ECF review claims that “literary critics are late to the affect game. This is strange because literature, among other delights, makes us feel.” Although, yes, literary critics’ interest in affect theory … does postdate interest in affect theory from other disciplines, a quarter of a century later it must no longer be possible to assert our continued lateness in the present tense… read more.
Review of Marjorie Levinson, Thinking Through Poetry: Field Notes on the Romantic Lyric (Oxford University Press, 2018)
Thinking Through Poetry puts on display the work of critical re-thinking that renders our scholarship dynamic and vital but also ethical, which is another way of saying willing to admit of change and doubt…. read more.
Review of Jonathan Sachs, The Poetics of Decline in British Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
For Sachs, foreseeing decline is not hopelessness but a kind of winnowing down, a way of narrowing future possibilities towards a known terminus—architectural ruin, the Roman Empire, British literary mediocrity, species extinction—in order to prophesize more precisely about it…. read more.
Review of Lily Gurton-Wachter, Watchwords: Romanticism and the Poetics of Attention (Stanford University Press, 2016)
Gurton-Wachter suggests that what we pay attention to when we read and write about war might be transformed by a Romantic commitment to exploring how we keep watch…read more.
Review of Jeffery N. Cox, Romanticism in the Shadow of War: Literary Culture in the Napoleonic Years (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
With the imagined expedition that introduces this richly contextualized new volume, Jeffrey N. Cox spins the globe and then boldly puts his finger on it. Dreaming of a world-spanning Grand Tour that Lord Byron never took… read more.
Nersessian’s tagline, “doing-with-less,” captures the coincidence of ecological and political thinking upon which her investigations of limited utopias build… read more.