Since its first beginnings Romanticism has been actively engaged with revising established models and establishing its own models for understanding culture, thought, and subjectivity. Romanticism emerged as an exciting form of remodelling which reinvented and redescribed models of selfhood, cultural, and literary identity. Those changes wrought by Romantic notions of the self gave rise to an attendant new and complex sense of aesthetic and imaginative freedom. Unsurprisingly, then, these innovative Romantic models of subjectivity and cultural identity were susceptible to remodelling by Post-Romantic philosophers and artists. Reflecting on the responses of philosophers, creative writers, and cultural critics to Romanticism, as a form of cultural remodelling, is instructive about which literary and theoretical models have been most influential or illuminating in shaping and reshaping our contemporary perceptions of the remodelling of subjectivity and cultural identity from the Romantic period to the present.
The essays collected in this Special Issue of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net gauge the subtle complexity and immense scope of British, Irish and American literary and philosophical reshaping and re-visioning of those liberating Romantic models of subjectivity, culture, and thought for a Post-Romantic era. All eight of the essays were originally delivered as lectures in the “Modelling the Self: Subjectivity and Identity in Romantic and Post-Romantic Thought and Culture” public lecture series at Durham University between October 2007 and April 2008, under the auspices of Durham English Department’s “Romantic Dialogues and Legacies” Research Group. This recent set of lectures was a follow-up to a very successful inaugural lecture series organised by the Research Group on “Romanticism and Its Legacies” held in 2006-07. The “Romantic Dialogues and Legacies” group was established to bring together individual research expertise at Durham within this area and focus on the ways in which Romantic writers interacted with one another and writers of later periods responded to the Romantics. The “Romantic Dialogues and Legacies” Research Group gratefully acknowledges assistance from Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study, and financial support from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the English Department, without which the “Modelling the Self” lecture series would not have been possible.
Mark Sandy is a Senior Lecturer in English Studies at Durham University and author of Poetics of Self and Form in Keats and Shelley (Ashgate, 2005). He is also co-editor with Michael O'Neill (Durham University) of four volumes on Romanticism: Critical Concepts in Cultural and Literary Studies (Routledge, 2006). More recently, he co-edited with Andrew Radford (University of Glasgow) a critical collection of essays on Romantic Echoes in the Victorian Era (Ashgate, 2008). He is currently researching a project, provisionally entitled Romantic Forms of Grief: Romanticism, Memory, and Mourning.
Sarah Wootton is a Lecturer in English Studies at Durham University. She is the author of Consuming Keats: Nineteenth-Century Representations in Art and Literature (Palgrave, 2006), and has published a wide range of book chapters and journal articles on nineteenth-century literature and the visual arts. Her second book, entitled The Rise of the Byronic Hero in Fiction and on Film, is under contract with Palgrave. She is a co-director of the “Romantic Dialogues and Legacies Research Group” at Durham University.