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The Work of Reading: Romanticism and the Aesthetics of Difficulty
This session will include papers on writers who utilize techniques that
make their works difficult to read, and writers whose work was deemed by
contemporaries to be difficult. Critical discussion largely neglects the
phenomenon that emerges in the Romantic periodâ€”famously articulated by
Wordsworth's opposition of "the real language of men" against "poetic
diction" in the Preface to Lyrical Balladsâ€”where some writers consciously
choose difficult styles and techniques (including Blake, Percy Shelley,
and Coleridge's Prose and Rime) while others strive for relative clarity
(including Thomas Paine, Wordsworth, and Jane Austen). The significance
of this phenomenon reaches beyond aesthetics, as it reveals much about
the changing politics of reading and writing in a growing commercial
marketplace and about the changing relationship of authors to their
reading public. Papers may address a range of questions, including, for
example, critiques of the obscurity of the Lake Poets by Byron and the
reviewers, the effect of the emerging mass audience on the production of
literature, the gendering of difficulty and clarity, the association of
difficulty with the Orient, and the contrasting epistemologies of
difficult and clear texts.
Submit abstracts or queries to Darren Howard at dhoward_at_willamette.edu.
Be sure to submit an additional abstract to r2anders_at_oakland.edu,
indicating that you have submitted the abstract to this session.
Deadline is April 15.
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Received on Mon Mar 31 2008 - 13:06:41 EST