In his Defence of Poetry, composed in 1821, Percy Shelley asserts the central importance of the poet—a general term he uses to include creative artists of all types—to the continuing development of civilization, even in the midst of the Industrial Revolution and the associated celebration of the sciences and technology. In praising the poet as the “unacknowledged legislator of the world,” Shelley sounded a call that still resonates two hundred years later, as the importance of the humanities relative to STEM programs continually becomes debated. Of course, Shelley’s views on poetry were by no means representative of the period. In both their published and private writings, poets as diverse as William Wordsworth and Lord Byron expressed a range of beliefs about the figure of the poet, the poetic tradition, and the continually evolving role of the poet in society. At the same time, novelists such as Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott and essayists such as Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt created texts that similarly invite consideration of the changing position of such artists within the Romantic period.
This panel will invite participants to consider works of the Romantic period in terms of the relationship between tradition and innovation, especially as it relates to the reciprocal influence between poets and other writers and the larger society.
Please submit your 250-word abstract by September 30 through the NeMLA portal: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/User/SubmitAbstract/18657.
L. Adam Mekler