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Exposed to the Elements: Romantic Time, Weather, and Science Then and Now

Oliver, Susan (2019) Exposed to the Elements: Romantic Time, Weather, and Science Then and Now. In: NASSR 2019: Romantic Elements, 2019-08-08 - 2019-08-11, University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago. (Unpublished)

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Romantic time is elastic. The poetry and prose we study is full of short lives, long nights, brief days, and extended seasons. If it’s a cliché that the British are obsessed with time and weather, Romanticism’s interest in how the imagination responds to temporality and meteorological phenomena is often stranger than is reckoned. This paper explores how Romantic concepts of time were altered by the experience of weather and atmospheric phenomena in ways that disrupt the most familiar frames of reference. Such disruption forces into dialogue the intellect, science and politics. The paper also argues that the Romanic period's radical ways of rethinking time resonate in the 21st century, when astrophysics and quantum mechanics theorise the behavior of light over the long time and distance scales of space, and the “brief lives” of the smallest particles that can be imagined? How might Romanticism have responded to terms such as “half-life” being used to describe a period of decay often amounting to hundreds of thousands of years? Travelling along an opposite vector, how might Romantic period writing about the imagination challenge our present-day science of the time and the elements? This is a new research project. The works discussed are Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s “A Summer Evening’s Meditation”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Lord Byron’s “Darkness,” Leigh Hunt’s “A now – Descriptive of a Summer day” and William Wordsworth’s “Ascent of Snowdon” episode in the final book of The Prelude. These works all respond to weather, elemental conditions, and perceptions of time.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Published proceedings: _not provided_
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 10:12
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:03

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