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Perverse Romanticism

Aesthetics and Sexuality in Britain, 1750–1832

Richard C. Sha

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Richard C. Sha’s revealing study considers how science shaped notions of sexuality, reproduction, and gender in the Romantic period.

Through careful and imaginative readings of various scientific texts, the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Longinus, and the works of such writers as William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Lord Byron, Sha explores the influence of contemporary aesthetics and biology on literary Romanticism.

Revealing that ideas of sexuality during the Romantic era were much more fluid and undecided than they are often characterized in the existing…

Richard C. Sha’s revealing study considers how science shaped notions of sexuality, reproduction, and gender in the Romantic period.

Through careful and imaginative readings of various scientific texts, the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Longinus, and the works of such writers as William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Lord Byron, Sha explores the influence of contemporary aesthetics and biology on literary Romanticism.

Revealing that ideas of sexuality during the Romantic era were much more fluid and undecided than they are often characterized in the existing scholarship, Sha’s innovative study complicates received claims concerning the shift from perversity to perversion in the nineteenth century. He observes that the questions of perversity—or purposelessness—became simultaneously critical in Kantian aesthetics, biological functionalism, and Romantic ideas of private and public sexuality. The Romantics, then, sought to reconceptualize sexual pleasure as deriving from mutuality rather than from the biological purpose of reproduction.

At the nexus of Kantian aesthetics, literary analysis, and the history of medicine, Perverse Romanticism makes an important contribution to the study of sexuality in the long eighteenth century.

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Perverse Romanticism

Richard C. Sha

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Reviews

Reviews

An impressive display of Sha’s masterful grasp of a wide range of scholarly literature, and a provocative thesis that will be of interest to academics in all three fields.

Sha brings to these topics a keen intelligence buttressed by up-to-the-minute scholarship... He dazzles by the quantity and breadth of his reading and embodies the best interdisciplinary approaches so many scholars tout but rarely incorporate.

His theoretical insights come together with acute readings and strong historical research.

Richard C. Sha's fine study takes Byron's theme of 'perversion' in a different direction from the ethical, demonstrating how Romantic medical writing about the perverse influenced literary Romanticism.... Fascinating book.

Stunningly brilliant and original... a distinguished work that is well worth reading.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
376
ISBN
9780801890413
Illustration Description
14 halftones
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Romantic Science and the Perversification of Sexual Pleasure
2. Historicizing Perversion: Perversity, Perversion, and the Rise of Function in the Biological Sciences
3. One

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Romantic Science and the Perversification of Sexual Pleasure
2. Historicizing Perversion: Perversity, Perversion, and the Rise of Function in the Biological Sciences
3. One Sex or Two? Nervous Bodies, Romantic Puberty, and the Natural Origins of Perverse Desires
4. The Perverse Aesthetics of Romanticism: Purposiveness with Purpose
5. Fiery Joys Perverted to Ten Commands : William Blake, the Perverse Turn, and Sexual Liberation
6. Byron, Epic Puberty, and Polymorphous Perversity
Notes
Works Cited
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Richard C. Sha

Richard C. Sha is a professor of literature at American University, where he is a member of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. He is the author of Perverse Romanticism: Aesthetics and Sexuality in Britain, 1750–1832 and the coeditor of Romanticism and the Emotions.