Romantic Studies: Introduction

Essayist Frances Ferguson beings her essay, especially with a brief discussion of, what not to include in her essay, and why to begin the essay, the way she begins than the other way. According to her it is better to begin her essay.

Mentioning about the debates about the term "romanticism", about the more historical or political orientation of romanticism rather than deconstructive, language oriented and rhetorical accounts, and about the "significant misrepresentation" of romanticism.

This is the summary of the plot of a recent romantic criticism, but it misses some important arguments about the romanticism, which are:

What a literary work might be like, what about the relationship between aesthetic experience' and 'individual experience' and the place of 'aesthetic experience' in relation to society.

The first debate about the term romanticism is in Jerome McGann's Romantic ideology. In this work McCann makes a contrast between two critics Aurthur, O Lovejoy ("On the Discrimination of Romanticism") and Rene WeIlek ("Concept s, in Literary History"). According to Loveioy, the word ‘romantic’ has come to mean so many things that by itself it means nothing. It has ceased to perform the function of a verbal sign". So he is in a new position to redefine the term "romantic" putting it in a new category, whereas, Rene Wellek sees some commonalities between the widely used term 'Romantic' (Romanticism). 'He saw (a) "complete agreement" among English, French and German Romantic writers on "all essential [basic, fundamental] points" of Romanticism are, (for example] nation nature, symbol and myths' for the production of a literature.

Lovejoy actually wants to ask a fundamental question on his argument that is; is not the term romanticism losing its meaning? On the other hand Wellek is in search of unity of romanticism or in search of common "systems of norms”. Wellek concludes mentioning "we can then go on speaking of romanticism as one European movement" with a dominant "system of ideas" with "their anticipations and their survivals” and this is based on a 'systematic unity'. In this sense he is closer to New Criticism which demands the organic unity.

McGann, at last, after discussing the debate between Lovejoy and Wellek takes the side of Lovejoy and advocates pluralism. McGann also brings M.H. Abram into this debate. According to McGann, for Abram Romanticism is an expression of ideas, not like other than 'Wordsworthian' and more generally like a "Christian model". However, Abram has some sort of historical and political affiliation with his view towards romanticisms. For him poetry has "relations to the revolutionary climate of the time", (Abrams English Romanticism 29) probably the French Revolution. In this sense Abram's account is that "many seemingly apolitical poems of the later romantic period" can be read with respect to the political developments of the time. But Abram provides a "form" in politics, which is at odd with the view of McGann's. For McGann, politics can never be conducted by formal means. He also adds that if it is so, "Romanticism was (and is) a reactionary movement" (Romantic Ideology 26) McGann criticizes Abram for "suppressing politics".

McGann opines that a literary product is always affected by the contemporary politics (ideology), so McGann uses the terms "historical characterization" and "ideology". These tendencies come to play when a writer writes or thinks and this is not necessarily formal but open. He manages to "install politics as the central concern of the apparently (surfacially) innocent operation of literary taxonomy."

McGann is a new historicist-Romanticist. For him history is the "ongoing proliferation of more minimal units, be they literary periods, aspects of periods authors, poems or drafts of poems". He insists on particularization rather than generalization. He is concerned with the relationship between an individual perceiver and an object of perception; similar to that of the relationship between individual and society.