Volume 80, Issue 2 | June 2019

Author Title
Sophus Helle What is an Author? Old Answers to a New Question  
Premodern sources mainly depict authors as textual transmitters rather than original creators. To treat these figurations of authorship as meaningful in their own right, one has to overcome a series of methodological hurdles. The polarized image of the author as either creative God or passive scribe must be replaced by a focus on the middle ranges of literary agency, which in turn requires theoretical elaboration. Premodern tropes of authorial activity, such as the metaphor of authorship as textile labor, gain a much fuller range of complexity and nuance when they are read with an eye to authorial mediation. Further, conceptualizing authors as mediators provides a better framework for writing the history of authorship, as it clarifies synchronic tensions and diachronic developments that unfolded within this frame. It also reveals that the modern ideal of authorial originality came about not as a radical break with the older ideal of authorial mediation but as a modification and rearrangement of its constitutive terms.
Nicholas Carr Modern Time: Temporality and the Realism of Romantic History  
This article places the works of American Romantic history in the tradition of the nineteenth-century novel. The result is a reframing of a strand of historiography that, for all its great men and its laws of progress, has at its core a realist negation of the freedoms and imaginative possibilities associated with the Romantic. However, this apparent tension between romance and the real ought to be seen as the dialectical face of a historicism that sought to master temporality by ending it with the arrival of the modern. The shifting narrative tenses of both realism and Romantic history stage a debate between epistemological and aesthetic impulses that the affirmation of the eixstent resolves.
Jason De Stefano The Birth of Creativity: Emerson's Creative Impulse  
This essay shows how Ralph Waldo Emerson's ideas of mental and artistic creativity emerged from debates about the creation of living form. Emerson came to believe that "creating nature" manifested the same "creative force," a belief instilled in him by German Romantic Naturphilosophie and its principal Anglophone explicators, the German American philosopher Johann Bernhard Stallo and the English anatomist Richard Owen. They taught Emerson that the intellect does not transcend or otherwise stand outside the natural world; it evolves immanently through reciprocal activity with the material environment. The impulse to create is thus as natural as evolution, but this means that creativity has to be traced beyond the brain and away from autonomous models of mind. In particular, Emerson's idea of "creative impulse" relied on epigenetic conceptions of generation and birth. He defined life in terms of creative capacity and helped redefine creativity as an innate, impulsive, and ubiquitous quality, definitions that influenced such thinkers as Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, and the psychologist James Mark Baldwin and that have stakes for contemporary discussions of creativity, evolution, and mind.
Lukas Moe Elegy's Generation: Muriel Rukeyser, M.L. Rosenthal, and Poetry after the Left  
From the late 1930s through mid-century poets in the United States reckoned with the decline of the political Left through a practice of elegy. The debates of interwar modernism shifted toward those of a postwar culture in which Depression-era aesthetics and politics came under the pressure of anticommunism. The 1940s work of Muriel Rukeyser, turning away from an earlier documentary poetics, exemplifies her generationís concern with the continuity between the Popular Front and World War II, challenging a narrative of retreat from New Deal reform to patriotic consensus. This understudied period in her career spanning U.S. 1 (1938) and Elegies (1949) saw Rukeyser enthusiastically join the work of radical poets to recover the legacy of the Spanish Civil War, while modifying elegy and adapting popular genres such as the soldierís letter to the struggles of the present. In their counterintuitive figures of address, meter and rhyme, Rukeyserís wartime poems offer a revisionary perspective on modern elegy, and in the context of their reception by the critic M.L. Rosenthal, an alternative to the milieus and politics of late modernism in American postwar literary culture.
Author Title
Robert Stevick Daniel Donoghue, How the Anglo-Saxons Read their Poems
Heather Dubrow John Watkins, After Lavinia: A Literary History of Premodern Marriage Diplomacy
Jocelyne Kolb Birgit Tautz, Translating the World: Toward a New History of German Literature around 1800
Nicholas Halmi Jonathan Sachs, The Poetics of Decline in British Romanticism

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