This collection of essays explores the remarkable range and cultural significance of the engagement with ‘infancy’ during the Romantic period. Taking its point of departure in the commonplace claim that the Romantics invented childhood, the book traces that engagement across national boundaries, in the visual arts, in works of educational theory and natural philosophy, and in both fiction and non-fiction written for children. Essays authored by scholars from a range of national and disciplinary backgrounds reveal how Romantic-period representations of and for children constitute sites of complex discursive interaction, where ostensibly unrelated areas of enquiry are brought together through common tropes and topoi associated with infancy. Broadly new-historicist in approach, but drawing also on influential theoretical descriptions of genre, discipline, mediation, cultural exchange, and comparative methodologies, the collection also seeks to rethink the idea of a clear-cut dichotomy between Enlightenment and Romantic conceptions of infancy.
1. ‘A detached peninsula’: infancy in the work of Thomas De Quincey.
Martina Domines Veliki and Cian Duffy
2. William Blake’s Infant Joy.
3. The infant, the mother, and the breast in the paintings of Marguerite Gérard.
4. Mother at the source: romanticism and infant education.
Robert A. Davis
5. Coleridge, the ridiculous child, and the limits of Romanticism.
6. Educational experiments: childhood sympathy, regulation and object relations in Maria Edgeworth’swriting about education.
7. ‘Advice [...] by one as insignificant as a MOUSE’: human and non-human infancy in eighteenth-century moral animal tales.
8. William Godwin, Romantic-era historiography and the political
cultures of infancy.
9. Experimenting with children: infants in the scientific imagination.
Lisa Ann Robertson
10. ‘A wretch so sad, so lorn’: the feral child and the Romantic cultures of infancy.Rolf Lessenich
Martina Domines Veliki is Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of Zagreb, Croatia.
Cian Duffy is Professor and Chair of English Literature at Lund University, Sweden.
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