Confirmed Tranquility: The Stoic Impulse in Transatlantic Romanticism
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CitationRisinger, Jacob Barth. 2014. Confirmed Tranquility: The Stoic Impulse in Transatlantic Romanticism. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractSpontaneous feeling has been a cornerstone of Romantic aesthetics since Wordsworth wrote his Preface to Lyrical Ballads. This dissertation unsettles the link between Romantic poetry and the overflow of emotion by arguing that writers from Wordsworth to Emerson persistently turned to Stoicism in reconsidering the role of the passions in both literature and the conduct of life. Drawing on poetry and a broad range of journals, letters, and intellectual prose, I argue that the Romantics were attuned to the way diffuse Stoic attitudes informed the politics and moral psychology of their age. More than a prompt for resignation or acquiescence, Stoicism was a radical and controversial term in a revolutionary age; philosophers like Kant, Spinoza, and Godwin drew on Stoic accounts of the passions in articulating their new ethical systems. In chapters on Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and Emerson, I argue that the period most polemically invested in emotion as the mainspring of art was also captivated by the idea that aesthetic and ethical judgment demanded a transcendence of emotion. In their poetic search for "confirmed tranquillity," the writers in my transatlantic study transformed Stoicism's austerities as they confronted the limitations of sympathy and redefined their own relations to a cosmopolitan and war-torn world.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12274463
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