Disastrous Subjectivities: Romaniticism, Modernity, and the Real
Published: September 2019© 2019
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 248 Pages
Dimensions: 6.50 x 9.30
248 Pages, 6.50 x 9.30 x 0.80 in
In sharply original readings of Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Disastrous Subjectivities explores modernity’s failed promise to bring about a just social order under the ongoing threat of climate change.
Drawing on Kantian critical philosophy and Lacanian theory, this book traverses aspects of the history of science, the form of the novel, the limits of historicism, and the impasses of moral autonomy. What passes for modernity takes shape not as truly modern or secular, but instead as a mode perpetually haunted by a traumatic sublime. The demand to realize justice within history turns out to require more than history can make possible, and more than the subject can bear.
1. Catastrophic Benevolence, Ruinous Immortality: Wollstonecraft’s Shipwreck
2. Prohibiting the Impossible: Godwin and the Formation of the Real
3. After the Covenant: Undead Subjectivity in Wordsworth’s Alpine Sublime
4. Trusting to the Billows: Byron’s Poetics of the Real
5. Tarrying with Disaster: Ethical Destitution in Shelley’s "The Triumph of Life"
Coda: Melting the Sublime: Disastrous Objectivity in the Era of Climate Change
"Disastrous Subjectivities is concerned with the impasses of modernity in an era of climate change, where climate is part of a general economy including political, social, and historical environments that confront Romanticism with the disaster of the Real. At the core of the book is the ethical demand made by this disaster, both in the specifically Lacanian sense indicated by the emphasis on the Real, and in a broader sense of ethics for which Kant serves as a ‘sign of history.’"Tilottama Rajan, Department of English, Western University