Mesmerism, Medusa, and the Muse: The Romantic Discourse of Spontaneous Creativity

Mesmerism, Medusa, and the Muse: The Romantic Discourse of Spontaneous Creativity

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Mesmerism, Medusa, and the Muse: The Romantic Discourse of Spontaneous Creativity explores the connections among the Romantic discourse of spontaneous literary creativity, the nineteenth-century cultural practice of mesmerism, and the mythical Medusa. This analysis of Medusan mesmerism in the works of Mary Robinson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.) contributes to recent scholarship about improvisational poetics, the subversive potential of mesmerism, and Medusa as a feminist more

Product details

  • Hardback | 182 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 430.91g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739170430
  • 9780739170434
  • 2,129,586

Review quote

DeLong has written a fascinating feminist examination of Romantic notions of inspiration and creativity expressed through two compelling tropes: mesmerism and the Medusa figure. This impeccably researched and argued critical study of English Romanticism offers new insights into the work of the "usual suspects" (Coleridge, the Shelleys, Byron, Wordsworth), as well as making a (sometimes queerly) stirring case for the importance of more neglected figures such as Mary Robinson and Letitia Elizabeth Landon. Besides being an excellent piece of scholarship, DeLong's book is an absorbing read. -- Alexander Doty, professor of gender studies and communication and culture, Indiana University; author of Making Things Perfectly Queer An important and historically situated study of models of Romantic imaginations, DeLong's book explores the challenge to the long privileged Wordsworthian and usually male-identified mediation of spontaneous expression of emotion by self-possessed, tranquil recollection--a challenge posed by alternative models of spontaneity expressed in the discourses of mesmerism, galvanism, and somnambulism and figured by the mother of all mesmerists Medusa. Subtle, convincing, and wisely juxtaposed readings of texts by Coleridge, Robinson, L.E.L., R. Browning, and both Shelleys expose the tensions between self-possession and possession by one's muse and reveal the power as well as the risks of entrancement, willed abandonment of the will, fluid subjectivities, mesmeric surrender, and feminization. DeLong's intelligence, erudition, and sophisticated prose have their own charms as well. -- Rosemary Mundhenk, Lehigh University DeLong treats nineteenth-century theories, practices, and versions of mesmerism to examine the Romantic discourse of spontaneous creativity, while Budge reads the then-emerging writings on the nervous system to explore Romantic and early Victorian concerns with visionary experience...DeLong...deserve[s] credit for showing us just how much more there is left to be said about such familiar topics as the Romantic imagination, especially when we allow ourselves to step, not outside of the trends that dominate our field, but in the spaces between them. European Romantic Reviewshow more

About Anne DeLong

Anne DeLong is assistant professor of English at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where she teaches courses in nineteenth-century British literature and women's more

Table of contents

Introduction: Opium Dreams: Romantic Poetry and Spontaneous Creativity Chapter 1: Romantic Improvisation: The Discourse of Spontaneity and the Anxiety of Inspiration Chapter 2: Animal Magnetism: Mesmerism in the Shelley Circle Chapter 3: Mesmeric Muses: Galvanic Maniacs and Somnambulant Zombies Chapter 4: The Medusan Muse: Speaking Eyes and Snaking Veins Chapter 5: The Gazing Eye, the Speaking I, and the Assenting Ay Bibliography Index About the Authorshow more

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