Who were the really revolutionary thinkers and writers in the "Age of Revolution," as the Romantic Period is also known? To consider this questions, this course will understand revolution in the sense of a "family affair." The Family unit was an operative ideological concept for very different kinds of revolutions, from the politics of liberation to the feminist revolution in education and social practices. Orienting this affair will be what we can call "the First Family" of revolutionary thought, which is not that of the French king and his famous queen Marie Antoinette, nor that of the mad George III and his politically rebellious son, later George IV, but that of the Godwin-Shelley Circle. The primary members of this circle are William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley (who came to study at Godwin's feet and instead eloped with his daughter). Behind his family romance of "free love," revolution, and theories of education lie the political thought of highly influential figures such as Rousseau, and the feminist politics of care, a contribution to the enduring problem of ethical action (best articulated for the Romantics by Spinoza). Both revolution and care as ethical action struggle against the increasingly dominant ideology of the aesthetic for this family that combines and traverses the standard period division into "first generation" and "second generation" Romantics. As we read our primary writers, we will bring in other thinkers and materials to provide both historical and literary contexts, genre contrasts, and contemporary interventions in these dramatic and self-dramatizing issues.
4:00 - 6:45 pm
Class Dates: 09/05/2017 - 12/13/2017