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The Connected ConditionRomanticism and the Dream of Communication$
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Yohei Igarashi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781503610040

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503610040.001.0001

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Shelley Amid the Age of Separations; or, A Poetry of Ambiversion for Networked Life

Shelley Amid the Age of Separations; or, A Poetry of Ambiversion for Networked Life

Chapter:
(p.117) 3 Shelley Amid the Age of Separations; or, A Poetry of Ambiversion for Networked Life
Source:
The Connected Condition
Author(s):

Yohei Igarashi

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9781503610040.003.0003

This chapter approaches the Romantic period as an instructive earlier moment for today’s digitally networked life, and views Shelley’s poetics as offering a compelling way of being a networked being. Shelley sat at the nexus of two contemporaneous discourses: proto-sociological discourse found in Scottish conjectural histories and Romantic-era reflections on poetic communication. From this position, Shelley engages in sociological and medial thinking. He offers the obscure medium of abstract poetry as a model for a specific form of social interaction suited to modernity: an interaction that would forge a middle way between an empty commercial kind of dependence and the total intersubjectivity that he calls “love.” Reading Epipsychidion (1821) in light of these concerns, and positing a “poetry of ambiversion” that allows for both connection and disconnection, this chapter suggests that Shelley arrives at a modern ethos of communication that is neither purely business-oriented nor amatory.

Keywords:   Percy Shelley, Émile Durkheim, network, sociology, media theory, Raymond Williams, ambiversion, solidarity, Epipsychidion, obscurity

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