Creating and Un-creating the World in the Romantic Imagination

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The Romantics era was rife with social and economic shifts and imbalances as the Industrial Revolution brought destruction to the natural world and further stratification of the classes. In this increasingly dystopian climate, Romantic authors often sought an idyllic nature in which to imbue their utopian views; as such, the Romantic imagination became a mechanism through which authors essentially deconstructed the dystopian world and created the utopian imagination. Conversely, the Romantics sometimes deconstructed the utopian environment as a means to express the dystopian imagination.

This panel seeks to explore the Romantic poet and novelist viewpoints that illuminated the dystopian "reality" as contrasted with the utopian imagination, and to explore the interrelated nature of reality as existing within the imagination and human consciousness itself. For instance, in poetry one might consider the interconnectivity of the dark imagination and the peace of nature in Charlotte Smith's sonnets, or Wordsworth's imaginative renderings of a nature in process of being destroyed by human hands in poems such as "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," or William Blake's subversion of good and evil in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. For fiction, one might consider the subversion of nature in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the natural environment as an imaginative constrictor in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. By June 3rd, please send a 350-word abstract, brief bio, and A/V requirements to Heather Heckman-McKenna, University of Missouri, at