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Sensing meaning: aesthetics and vulnerability in the Romantic age

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Title
Sensing meaning: aesthetics and vulnerability in the Romantic age
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Diaby
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Bakary
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1988-
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Bakary Diaby
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Colin
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Colin Jager
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chair
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Galperin
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William
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William Galperin
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Abigail
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Abigail Zitin
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Goldstone
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Andrew
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Andrew Goldstone
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Carlson
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Julie A
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Julie A Carlson
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Advisory Committee
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Rutgers University
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School of Graduate Studies
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theses
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2019
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2019-05
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2019
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English
Abstract (type = abstract)
Sensing Meaning: Aesthetics and Vulnerability in the Romantic Age examines the politics of aestheticization by investigating how Romantic era literature aestheticized precarity and vulnerable persons. Romantic aesthetics have been characterized by twentieth century philosophers as apolitcal, elitist, and even as fascist. Similarly, scholars have criticized Romantic poets like William Wordsworth and John Keats for a solipsism that favors poetry and art at the expense of the material world. Many of these criticisms share an assumption that the period was primarily––or, perhaps, exclusively––an aesthetic ideology. This project re-conceptualizes aesthetics into the process by which we scrutinize, contest, and eventually alter the value of our values.
My chapters highlight the ways literature and aesthetics participate in more overtly political debates. The opening section discusses the ability to find meaning in the environment and link this cognitive capacity to the Romantic notion of poiesis, or the faculty of fictioning. This faculty is crucial to the Romanticism’s project of refiguring the human subject. In this chapter, I read Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark as articulating an ethics predicated on this faculty to forge affective connections to the land, the poor, the non-living, and future generations, culminating in Wollstonecraft’s own prescient thoughts on our current ecological crises. The subsequent chapter, “Working,” claims that the Romantic period comes to aestheticize the ongoingness of labor and the uneven distribution of care along lines of gender and class.
In “Noticing,” I use Keats’s “The Eve of St. Agnes” to discuss sexual assault and the ability to notice or perceive injustice. The chapter calls for an epistemic justice that is built on what the philosopher Debra Bergoffen has called the “Politics of the Vulnerable Body.” To quote Bergoffen, this strives to make “the ‘we’ of humanity... the ‘we’ of vulnerability.” The final chapter, “Feeling,” explores the complications of fragility, race, and the Romantic subject.
Partially at stake in my project is the role literature and the arts has played––and can still play––in the reformation of our values, in how a subject connects to vulnerable others, and in underscoring the importance of the natural and social environment we find ourselves embedded within. As such, my dissertation demonstrates one way the Humanities can speak to today’s conflicts: in critiquing not only how our present can offer new answers to old questions, but also the value of some old answers to our new, pressing political questions.
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Topic
Literatures in English
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Romanticism -- Political aspects
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Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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1 online resource (vii, 218 pages)
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Ph.D.
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Includes bibliographical references
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doi:10.7282/t3-qdzd-c940
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ETD doctoral
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The author owns the copyright to this work.
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Name
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Diaby
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Bakary
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Permission or license
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2019-04-09 21:02:29
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Bakary Diaby
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Rutgers University. School of Graduate Studies
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I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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2019-05-31
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2023-05-31
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Access to this PDF has been restricted at the author's request. It will be publicly available after May 31st, 2023.
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Copyright protected
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Open
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Permission or license
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