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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

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

Yohei Igarashi

Stanford University Press

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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