Aesthetic materialism : electricity and American romanticism - download pdf or read online

By Paul Gilmore

ISBN-10: 080476123X

ISBN-13: 9780804761239

ISBN-10: 0804770972

ISBN-13: 9780804770972

Aesthetic Materialism: electrical energy and American Romanticism makes a speciality of American romantic writers' makes an attempt to theorize aesthetic adventure during the language of electrical energy. in keeping with medical and technological advancements, such a lot significantly the telegraph, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century electric imagery mirrored the mysterious workings of the actual brain in addition to the doubtful, occasionally stunning connections among contributors. Writers equivalent to Whitman, Melville, and Douglass drew on photographs of electrical energy and telegraphy to explain literature either because the manufactured from particular financial and social stipulations and as a method of transcending the person made up our minds by way of such stipulations. Aesthetic Materialism strikes among ancient and cultural research and shut textual interpreting, hard readers to determine American literature as right now formal and old and as a manufactured from either aesthetic and fabric experience.

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49 This machine, rather than being the invention of the mechanical tinkering of an individual, is the efflux of divinity, as the “divine purposes in the gift of language[;] are duties too sacred and important to be sacrificed to the guesses of an individual” (4:1:45). Language, at its purest, provides a kind of access, limited as it may be, to divinity itself, to the “old and venerable truths” underlying traditional society. This divine machinery helps Coleridge to counter both the determinism and potential subjectivism of associationism.

It is important to emphasize the transatlantic nature of these transformations, for the ability of commodities, conceptions, and people to cross national borders and move across great distances instantiated the very fluidity of the material and spiritual worlds that electricity was taken to epitomize. Turning to figures such as Franklin and Edmund Burke, I demonstrate the ways that theories about electricity both were influenced by the increased flow of persons and products back-and-forth across the Atlantic and reflected concerns about the disruptive political and social effects of that fluidity.

Such hypotheses would continue to appear in the work of even some of the leading thinkers on electricity throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. Bridging the spiritual and physical worlds, by providing a materialist understanding of a dynamic or divinely designed universe, electricity seemed, if not identical with the source of nervous impulses or not the prime source of life itself, to supply a ready substitute for both. As a number of historians have argued, Newtonian mechanical physics provided a vital paradigm for eighteenth-century theories of the mind, political systems, and art.

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Aesthetic materialism : electricity and American romanticism by Paul Gilmore


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