Awful Parenthesis: Suspension and the Sublime in Romantic and Victorian Poetry

By Anne C. McCarthy

© 2018

Whether the rapt trances of Romanticism or the corpse-like figures that confounded Victorian science and religion, nineteenth-century depictions of bodies in suspended animation are read as manifestations of broader concerns about the unknowable in Anne C. McCarthy’s Awful Parenthesis. Examining various aesthetics of suspension in the works of poets such as Coleridge, Shelley, Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti, McCarthy shares important insights into the nineteenth-century fascination with the sublime.

Attentive to differences between "Romantic" and "Victorian" articulations of suspension, Awful Parenthesis offers a critical alternative to assumptions about periodization. While investigating various conceptualizations of suspension, including the suspension of disbelief, suspended animation, trance, paralysis, pause, and dilatation, McCarthy provides historically-aware close readings of nineteenth-century poems in conversation with prose genres that include devotional works, philosophy, travel writing, and periodical fiction. Awful Parenthesis reveals the cultural obsession with the aesthetics of suspension as a response to an expanding, incoherent world in crisis, one where the audience is both active participant and passive onlooker.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 1.0in x 9.1in
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SKU# SP004839

  • PUBLISHED MAY 2018

    From: $59.25

    Regular Price: $79.00

    ISBN 9781487502911
  • PUBLISHED APR 2018

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    Regular Price: $79.00

Quick Overview

Examining various aesthetics of suspension in the works of nineteenth-century poets such as Coleridge, Shelley, Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti, Anne C. McCarthy shares important insights into the cultural fascination with the sublime.

Awful Parenthesis: Suspension and the Sublime in Romantic and Victorian Poetry

By Anne C. McCarthy

© 2018

Whether the rapt trances of Romanticism or the corpse-like figures that confounded Victorian science and religion, nineteenth-century depictions of bodies in suspended animation are read as manifestations of broader concerns about the unknowable in Anne C. McCarthy’s Awful Parenthesis. Examining various aesthetics of suspension in the works of poets such as Coleridge, Shelley, Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti, McCarthy shares important insights into the nineteenth-century fascination with the sublime.

Attentive to differences between "Romantic" and "Victorian" articulations of suspension, Awful Parenthesis offers a critical alternative to assumptions about periodization. While investigating various conceptualizations of suspension, including the suspension of disbelief, suspended animation, trance, paralysis, pause, and dilatation, McCarthy provides historically-aware close readings of nineteenth-century poems in conversation with prose genres that include devotional works, philosophy, travel writing, and periodical fiction. Awful Parenthesis reveals the cultural obsession with the aesthetics of suspension as a response to an expanding, incoherent world in crisis, one where the audience is both active participant and passive onlooker.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 1.0in x 9.1in
  • Reviews

    "Awful Parenthesis is elegantly written, well-researched, thoroughly prepared, and up-to-date on existing scholarship."


    Christopher Stokes, Lecturer, Department of Humanities, University of Exeter

    "Awful Parenthesis offers an important, interesting addition to the fields of Romantic and Victorian literature, and contributes to renewed interest in Victorian poetry and in poetic form. Tying together an intriguing mixture of highly canonical works and lesser-known texts, Awful Parenthesis will have a strong appeal to faculty and graduate students working on Romanticism, Victorian literature, and poetry more broadly."


    Monique Morgan, Associate Professor, Department of English, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Author Information

    Anne C. McCarthy is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Pennsylvania State University.
  • Table of contents

    Abbreviations
    Introduction - The Aesthetics of Suspension
    Chapter 1 - Coleridge, Suspension, and the Sublime
    Chapter 2 - Semblances of Truth in "Christabel" and Aids to Reflection
    Chapter 3 - The Aesthetics of Contingency in Shelley’s "Universe of Things"
    Chapter 4 - Tennyson and the Rhetoric of Suspended Animation
    Chapter 5 - Christina Rossetti’s Poetic Faith
    Bibliography