Romantic Vacancy argues that, at the cult of sensibility's height, Romantic writers found alternative tropes of affect to express movement beyond sensation and the body. Grappling with sensibility's claims that sensation could be translated into ideas and emotions, poets of vacancy rewrote core empiricist philosophies that trapped women and men in sensitive bodies and, more detrimentally, in ideological narratives about emotional response that gendered subjects' bodies and minds. Kate Singer contends that affect's genesis occurs instead through a series of figurative responses and movements that loop together human and nonhuman movements of mind, body, and nature into a posthuman affect. This book discovers a new form of Romantic affect that is dynamically linguistic and material. It seeks to end the long tradition of holding women and men writers of the Romantic period as separate and largely unequal. It places women writers at the forefront of speculative thinking, repositions questions of gender at the vanguard of Romantic-era thought, revises how we have long thought of gender in the period, and rewrites our notions of Romantic affect. Finally, it answers pivotal questions facing both affect studies and Romanticism about interrelations among language, affect, and materiality. Readers will learn more about the deep history of how poetic language can help us move beyond binary gender and its limiting intellectual and affective ideologies.
About the Author
Kate Singer is Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Critical Social Thought Program at Mount Holyoke University.