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Romanticism and the Uses of Genre$
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David Duff

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572748

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572748.001.0001

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Romantic Genre Theory

Romantic Genre Theory

Chapter:
(p.58) 2 Romantic Genre Theory
Source:
Romanticism and the Uses of Genre
Author(s):

David Duff (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572748.003.0003

This chapter investigates genre theory of the ‘high’ Romantic period, taking Friedrich Schlegel's Dialogue on Poetry and Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads as paradigms of the wide-ranging debate on genre that took place in both Germany and Britain. German influence is particularly evident in theories of organic form and philosophical approaches to genre, but these in turn draw on earlier British aesthetics, notably Shaftesbury's ‘language of forms’, and undergo further elaboration by Coleridge in his ‘genial criticism’ essays and elsewhere. Goethe's concept of morphology is another important development of the organicist model, and philosophical interest in genre-systems is reflected too in German speculation on the modal triad, lyric-epic-dramatic. The chapter also highlights the sociological emphasis of British genre theory, examining the influence of the French Revolution controversy, which led to the wholesale politicization of genre evident in many 1790s genre-reform programmes. The chapter concludes with Wordsworth's Preface to Poems (1815), a text which forcibly demonstrates the opposing currents in Romantic genre theory.

Keywords:   German Romanticism, philosophical genre theory, aesthetics, French Revolution, genre-reform, organic, form, genial criticism, morphology, triad

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