Heterotopia and Romantic Border crossings

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        Heterotopia and Romantic Border
                                      Jeffrey cass
                          University of Louisiana at Monroe

I—Romanticism, Comparative Literature and the Trope of Death

this volume approaches the disciplinary and intellectual anxieties and crises
surrounding comparatist studies, particularly as they intersect with Romanticism,
itself an unsettled and frequently occluded subject, not only for the bulk of British
Romanticists who aim their critical gaze, which at times appears to be shrinking
and at others seems to be enlarging, but for the outlying Romanticists who work on
american, european, and other non-Western romanticisms. indeed, the fusing of
comparativism with Romanticism produces such a dizzying array of possibilities,
that any intention to establish generic, periodic, theoretical, or professional
distinctiveness—of placing permanent border fences around anything—is doomed to
fail because the demarcating lines are always in flux. As a result, this volume intends
to destabilize distinctions that are often brought to bear in the service of marking
national boundaries and promoting theoretical absolutes, but it also recognizes
as well that the “crossings” that comprise this clutch of essays do travel across
recognizable trails and traces, inasmuch as they are the borders, both conventional
and convenient, that have traditionally fenced the fields and practices of comparative
literature and of romanticism.
    When Jeffrey cox and Jill Heydt-stevenson focused the profession’s attention on
the issue of cosmopolitanism for the 2004 nassR conference, for example, they did
so with “a contested sense” of its historical meaning and global significance, thereby
raising numerous questions, such as “Was it merely a mask for imperialism and the
spread of global capitalism or was there a viable vision of world citizenship, global
democracy, and transnational institutions that offered an important alternative to
local attachments, patriotism, and international war and expropriation?” (131). cox
and Heydt-stevenson’s engagements with the global and transnational crisscrossed
traditional lines of Romanticist inquiry, thereby allowing non-traditional ones to
percolate to the surface. of this dazzling eclecticism they write:

   We learned about Jewish cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan terror, gothic cosmopolitanism
   and cosmopolitan worms, about traveling, scrap-booking, slavery, and war, about sailors,
   weavers, and castrati; we were treated to papers about Hölderlin, the shelleys, Rousseau,
   Rammohun Roy, coleridge, goethe, José maria Blanco White, austen, godwin, Phillis
   Wheatley, Hunt, Hegel, William Jones, gogol, scott, Kant, the Wordsworths, charlotte
2                               Romantic Border Crossings
    smith, emerson, Beethoven, and “dJ Vassa,” among many others. there were sessions
    and papers on music architecture, painting, philosophy, science, economics, geography,
    history, and demography. Speakers took us to Italy and India, Egypt and Albania, the East
    and West indies, france, canada, germany, switzerland, Russian, the United states, and
    australia, Brazil, mexico and china, ireland, scotland, and Wales. (131–2)

this geographic and thematic cornucopia is the comparatist ideal, and it clearly
signals that even within the lone context of British Romanticism, the boundaries (if
they exist at all) are not only unstable, they actually riot outward from greenwich
to the ends of the earth and back again. As Fedwa Malti-Douglas might suggest,
this is not your father’s or mother’s Romanticism, which, according to conventional
wisdom, concentrates on local concerns, withdrawing from the urban center or
from the inter- or intracultural interrogations and interventions that the above list
giddily outlines. Perhaps understandably, some comparatists have not welcomed
this eclecticism, viewing its helter-skelter enthusiasms as an alarming threat to
disciplinarity—a menace that must be actively resisted. the disintegration of
borders suggests submitting themselves to the loss of professional territory and to
the unwanted invasion of monolingual critics who explore outside their disciplinary
niches and linguistic skill sets. Yet even the comparatists who do share this
globalizing perspective, who hear what malti-douglas refers to as the “call of the
siren” and wish to navigate comparative literature as “a world without limits” (182),
fear the consequences of these new investigative styles and practices. “certainly,
many a nay-sayer will not be quite ready yet to take the plunge into these rapids,”
malti-douglas writes, “carrying on his or her shoulder the aging body of the old
comparative literature. But so be it. it is precisely because it is not our father’s comp
Lit. that we can infuse new life into the field” (182). This is one of the first hints that
“the aging body” of our comparatist paterfamilias is not only sagging but moribund
as well, for malti-douglas’s last metaphor is as much about impending death, as it
is about phoenix-like rejuvenation. It is a metaphor that is repeated over and over
in comparative literature, a tropological fixation that, as we shall see, unfortunately
prevents many practitioners from simply practicing because they are obsessed with
whether or not they still exist professionally.
    While this volume does wed Romantic and comparatist profusion and
interpenetration, this volume also testifies to a process of decentering that suggests
that comparative literature as such—father’s and son’s, mother’s and daughter’s—
may have had more flexibility and alterity after all, subverting the trope of death that
is at work in much contemporary discussion about the “field” and is additionally
already aligned in spirit with the cosmopolitanism of the new Romanticism and even
migrating toward it. In other words, preserving the “field” of comparative literature
does not necessarily mean killing the disciplinary father, any more than it did for
Romanticists as they expanded into previously uncontested critical spaces and, in the
process, created new ones. nor does it mean accepting what djelal Kadir sarcastically
refers to as comparative literature’s paradigm shift into “Whatever” (68) or, as he
more challengingly argues, into the “perils of dissensus”—a condition of “pluralist
multiplicity” in extremis (68). critical of the new critical regimes in “comparative
Literature,” Kadir believes that “dissensus” degenerates into an indiscriminate
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings                3
“balkanization of world literary cultures” (75). Kadir’s grim evaluation of the state
of comparative literature in 2004 (the same moment that the nassR conference on
cosmopolitanism is occurring) affirms a situation that is both noisily solipsistic and
stridently incommunicative. the discipline exists only as “nostalgia” (76), in a world
in which no comparatist dares to “argue against the supersession of monolingualism,
presentism, and narcissism” (76). Ironically, while criticizing Spivak (his chief
critical antagonist), Kadir also anticipates her, for when the comparatist ‘discipline’
no longer functions except as a hunger for memory, when it can no longer produce
a visionary future, it has effectively expired. one suspects that Kadir would also not
have very flattering things to say about the current state of the “field” of Romanticism
and its own proliferating “dissensus.”
    though i have written principally about British Romantic women writers, as
well as making various excursions into the field of popular culture, I was actually
trained as a scholar of comparative literature. after nearly twenty years of teaching
British, american, and World literature courses, in the spring 2005 semester, the
new chair of my department actually requested that i teach a graduate course in
comparative literature. i was delighted to return to the scene of my graduate school
beginnings, and I set about making the necessary preparations to conduct a graduate
seminar that outlined comparative literature as a discipline. But when i began once
again to re-read and research in the areas of comparative literature, i discovered
a highly disconcerting fact—the discipline of my youth had been declared dead.
Gayatri Spivak had said so in her recent book, Death of a Discipline, shortly before
the arrival of Kadir’s trenchant criticism. Of course, Spivak means the death of “old”
comparative literature, that of the émigré european intellectuals who populated
america’s universities after World War ii. these critical gods demanded a full
knowledge of the language before one could rightfully say anything about texts
written in languages other than english or their interrelationships with other non-
English texts. Instead, Spivak envisions a “responsible comparativism” which “must
approach culturally diversified ethical systems diachronically, through the history of
multicultural empires, without foregone conclusions” (12–13). no longer trapped in
linguistic prisons of their own making, practitioners of “responsible comparativism”
would be able, through the efforts of those in translation studies, to extend their
inquiries into areas of literature that would traditionally be closed off to them and
thereby refashion a discipline that appeared culturally conservative and antihybridist.
Quoting herself, Spivak contends: “The verbal text is jealous of its linguistic signature
but impatient of national identity. Translation flourishes by virtue of that paradox”
(9). The tension between the knowledge of language bounded by national identity
and the eruption of that language in newly translated and professionally appropriated
texts did not, from this perspective, appear sustainable. the dam having burst, it was
not only high time to mourn the auerbachs, the curtiuses, and the Levins lost in the
ensuing flood, but to pursue a new version of comparative literature and train a new
breed of comparatist as well.
    Of course, even in graduate school in the 80s, most of us knew that the field
was in “crisis,” to employ René Wellek’s oft-cited term, but I had no idea that
my impending graduate course, if Spivak were correct, would essentially be
a postmortem, an autopsy of my own comparatist education, particularly one
4                               Romantic Border Crossings
that celebrated a “logofratrocentric notion of collectivity” (Spivak’s phrase 32).
Stunningly, many scholars seemed to agree with Spivak’s assessment, applauding
the dissolution of the masculinist, eurocentric, imperialist fraternity that had
(seemingly) comprised the discipline of comparative literature. susan Bassnett, for
example, urges a disciplinary move to translation studies since “binary comparative
studies” [“old” comparative literature] stood firmly against the idea of translation. A
good comparatist, according to the binary model, “would read original texts in the
original languages, an infinitely superior form of reading than any which involved
translation” (139). To deconstruct the privileging of linguistic knowledge, Bassnett
(like Spivak) mines Derrida, suggesting that “the source text…is not an original at
all, it is an elaboration of an idea, of a meaning, in short it is in itself a translation”
(151). she further claims:

    The logical consequences of Derrida’s thinking about translation would be the abolition of
    the dichotomy between original and translation, between source and copy, and hence an
    end to the view that relegates translation to a secondary position. (151)

at the conclusion to Comparative Literature, in fact, Bassnett puts the final dagger
in the heart of traditional comparative literature and its moldy emphasis on linguistic
knowledge. She suggests, “An era is over,” for comparative literature “has had its
day,” failing to define itself and at the same time “rejecting calls for clearer definitions
of scope and methodology, while translation studies has concerned itself with texts
and with contexts, with practice and with theory” (160). comparative literature will
now simply have to be a mere “subsidiary” to translation studies, which has willingly
embraced women’s studies, cultural studies, and postcolonial theory.
    death as the ultimate trope for scholarly change in comparative literature also is
rooted in the work of David Damrosch, whose brilliant book, What is World Literature?
outlines several examples of study in world literature (in translation), paralleling the
ideas of Bassnett and Spivak. Of a definition of world literature, Damrosch intones:
“the idea of world literature can usefully continue to mean a subset of the plenum of
literature. I take world literature to encompass all literary works that circulate beyond
their culture of origin, either in translation or in their original language…a work only
has an effective life as world literature whenever, and wherever, it is actively present
within a literary system beyond that of its original culture” (emphasis damrosch’s,
4). damrosch’s emphasis of “effective,” as well as his notion of ‘circulation’ implies
that the life of literature depends on foreign blood being pumped into communities
of readers and writers who incorporate “other” texts into their theoretical models in
order to defamiliarize canons and destabilize cherished interpretive regimes. When
the blood stops, death results because “world literature” becomes for damrosch
“as much about the host’s cultures, values and needs as it is about a work’s source
culture” (282). Not coincidentally, the cover art for Damrosch’s book reproduces
Baron Dominique Vivant Denon’s sketch Napoleon’s Scientists Studying the Sphinx
at Giza (1802). it depicts some of napoleon’s scientists measuring the sphinx,
dropping a plumb line above the sphinx’s head, as if to capture it by numerically
circumscribing it. For Damrosch the sketch is ironic because the French miserably
“failed to dominate the egyptian culture that napoleon tried to reorganize along
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings                    5
french lines” (pace Said) and thus take “her true measure” (303). The Sphinx’s lips
part “as if to speak, but not to question the ephemeral mortals, whose presence she
ignores” (303). instead, damrosch apotheosizes her as an ekphrasis of all literary
speech. “she greets amun Re,” damrosch concludes, “Lord of the two Lands,
who rises at dawn without fail, perfect each day, to shine in power on his eternal
kingdom” (303).
    damrosch’s poetic views about the nature, scope, and circulation of world
literature impact comparative literature. Damrosch, Spivak, and Bassnett eschew
a literary ideology that constructs absolute national boundaries, draws linguistic
lines of demarcation, and obstinately clings to traditional norms of scholarship and
erudition that exclude transnational literary forms, versions, genres, and authors. and
they also recognize the utopianism of post-war comparative literature in its desire
to be the “grand corrective” for nationalism and its political unsavory adherents and
beliefs. Once accomplished through European unification, comparatists might just as
well “commit suicide,” as albert guérard suggests in the Yearbook of Comparative
and General Literature in 1958 (damrosch 282). creepily drawing upon yet another
death metaphor, damrosch rightly points out that not only did this utopian ideal
not come to pass, it was doomed to fail since even the word “national” is itself
problematic. “Works become world literature by being received into the space of
a foreign culture,” Damrosch writes, “a space defined in many ways by the host
culture’s national tradition and the present needs of its own writers” (283). Perhaps
just as interesting is Damrosch’s next sentence, which might make a traditional
comparatist cringe:

   Even a single work of world literature is the locus of a negotiation between two different
   cultures. the receiving culture can use the material in all sorts of ways: as a positive
   model for the future development of its own tradition; as a negative vase of a primitive;
   or, more neutrally, as an image of radical otherness against which the home tradition can
   more clearly be defined. (283)

the internment of comparative literature into the graveyard of shopworn theories
allows Spivak, Bassnett, and Damrosch to “negotiate” emergent literary spaces;
to make theoretical border crossings; to annex those in professional diaspora and
literary marginality; to establish a planetary collectivity (Spivak finds “global” too
complicit with capitalism), to encourage a new generation of cross-cultural readers
to adopt “radical otherness” as a model for the construction of self.
    While Spivak, Bassnett, and Damrosch’s desire for the openness and transformation
of the self into radical other, into the search for border crossings, is laudable and (for
the purposes of this collection) necessary, they also set up comparative literature as a
straw man, not only not actively engaging with the published works of comparative
literature over the last decade, but assuming as well that comparative literature itself
has not morphed or cannot alter into different shapes or ideological contours. indeed,
publications in comparative literature have exploded, belying the trope of death that
has, for many theorists, conveniently attaching itself to criticisms of comparative
literature while denying the obvious accumulation of scholarship and research.
ironically, it is comparativism that underlies the postcolonial diaspora and the
6                               Romantic Border Crossings
contours of cultural studies, it is comparativism that gives life to the newly positioned
translation studies, and it is comparativism that has breathed life into World
Literature, so that its exponents and practitioners no longer have to justify themselves
as something more than occasional tourists dabbling in the multiplicity of national
literatures. In short, the actual research that has taken place in comparative literature
does not square with the powerful theoretical criticisms of its alleged demise.
    A sampling of the works in comparative literature, particularly in the area of essay
collection, published in the last decade illustrates this paradox. many collections
interrogate the very “othered” diversity Spivak, Bassnett, and Damrosch affirm as
necessary for critics of cross-cultural encounters.1 this healthy, even voluminous,
interest in comparative literature (sometimes in the guise of cross-cultural encounters)
makes room for theoretically current views and abstrusely traditional ones, for critics
with mastery of multiple languages and those who work with translations. It is a
comparative literature fully capable of collaborating with the frameworks of cultural
studies, postcolonial theory, and multiculturalism. the sheer scope and breadth of
the essays contained by these collections and monographs is staggering—hybrid
forms in German Romanticism; Turkish oral epic poetry; recent Mongolian oral
literature; the “occidental” folk narrative; the Norse legends; the epic connections
between Keats and miyazawa; the parallels between oshima and Byron’s don
Juan; the media’s relationship to comparative literature, the state of comparative
literature in india, slovenia, the United states, and Palestine; chinese comparative
literature and cultural studies; african-american literature, comparative literature,
and satire—and the topics list goes on and on. Perhaps, to borrow from Mark Twain,
reports of the death of comparative literature are greatly exaggerated. But those
reports need to be examined, for the contemporary fusion of Romantic interests
with comparative impulses in this volume reveals a desire not only to strike new

    1 see: charles Bernheimer’s Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism
(1995), John c. Hawley’s Cross-Addressing: Resisting Literature and Cultural Borders
(1996), Harris and Reichl’s Prosimetrum: Crosscultural Perspectives on Narrative in Prose
and Verse (1997), Masaki Mori’s Epic Grandeur: Toward a Comparative Poetics of the
Epic (1997), yingjin Zhang’s China in a Polycentric World: Essays in Chinese Comparative
Literature (1998), Takayuki Yokota-Murakami, Don Juan East/West: On the Problematics
of Comparative Literature (1998), Bery and murray’s Comparing Postcolonial Literatures:
Dislocations, Simerka and Weimer’s Echoes and Inscriptions: Comparative Approaches to
Early Modern Spanish Literature, stevenson and Ho’s Crossing the Bridge: Comparative
Essays on Medieval European Women and Heian Japanese Women Writers (2000), e.s.
shaffer’s Comparative Criticism: Fantastic Currencies in Comparative Literature: Gothic to
Postmodern (2002), Tötösy de Zepetnek’s Comparative Literature and Comparative Cultural
Studies (2003). full-length monographs also tell a very different tale. consider Luce López-
Baralt’s book Islam in Spanish Literature: From the Middle Ages to the Present (1992), syrine
Chafic Hout’s Viewing Europe from the Outside: Cultural Encounters and Critiques in the
Eighteenth-Century Pseudo-Oriental Travelogue and the Nineteenth-Century ‘Voyage en
Orient’ (1997), Erik Ingvar Thurin’s study The American Discovery of the Norse: An Episode
in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (1999), ala a. alryyes’ Original Subjects: The
Child, the Novel, and the Nation (2001), or Quian ma’s Feminist Utopian Discourse in
Eighteenth-Century Chinese and English Fiction (2004).
                 Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings                    7
ground with new professional partners, but to affirm as well a longing to return home
and appropriate the renewed energies of comparative literature that is always and
already revitalizing itself through metamorphic redefinition. The ongoing relevance
of comparative literature derives, in the words of Haun saussey, in the “Romantic
themes of its intellectual origins: the nation as a project, the poetics of the fragment,
the totalizing resistance to totality” (x). in short, a healthy comparative literature
demands that it always be in crisis, that it never settle on disciplinary closure, and
that it not relinquish either its Romantic genesis or Romantic (re)iterations.
    Furthermore, as Wai-Chi Dimock forcefully argues in her fascinating new book,
Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time, “the continuum
of historical life does not grant the privilege of autonomy to any temporal segment.
the nation, as a segmenting device, is vulnerable, for just that reason. it is constantly
stretched, punctured, and infiltrated. Territorial sovereignty is poor prophylactic”
(4). for many practitioners of comparative literature, the conventional boundaries
of nationalism that have sometimes marked its “territorial” divisions have created
the illusion of bureaucratic autonomy, professional independence, and theoretical
separateness. as an americanist in search of “deep time” for a national literature that
is chronologically only two hundred years old, Dimock seeks a “world system” that
“can bear the explanatory weight of deep structural transformations” (5). and though
she intends to strengthen and deepen our understanding of american literature and
American literary history, Dimock strives for literary analysis that performs comparatist
tracings, that globalizes local phenomena, that fulfills (as she herself indicates) the
“sojourn” of planetarity called for by Spivak. We must, therefore, always comparatize
literature by destabilizing literary bureaucracies, “puncturing” territorial landscapes,
disintegrating national and international boundaries, erasing our separateness—from
each other and certainly from other fields that would keep us out because of their
own desire for professional distinctiveness. comparatizing may mean reaching out
to areas such as anthropology, sociology, the visual and performing arts, biology,
economics, psychology, linguistics, to fields that as yet have no name. Like Dimock,
we must recognize the illusion of “discrete entities,” focusing instead on literature as
“a crisscrossing set of pathways, open-ended and ever multiplying, weaving in and
out of other geographies, other languages and cultures. these are input channels,
kinship networks, routes of transit, and forms of attachment” (3). Though intended as
a reconceptualization of american literature that threads “the long [time] durations”
of other cultures into “the short chronology of the United States,” Dimock’s notion of
“deep time” alerts us to the transdisciplinary, transhistorical, translated journeys we
must make that “weave our history into our dwelling place, and make us what we are,
a species with a sedimented footprint” (6).2

    2 Dimock conceives of her book as reflecting the “sea change” in the identity of politics
of nationalism, with her work as part of the conversation in transnational and postnational
thinking. Her notions of “deep time” thus take the reader through topics as diverse as Emerson
and the Bhagavad Gita, margaret fuller and ancient egypt, Henry James and world systems,
and Pacific Rim ecologies that embrace both Chinese Monkey via Maxine Hong Kingston and
Gerald Vizenor, as well as Sanskrit Coyote via the Beat Generation. Dimock’s commitment to
the interconnectedness of world literatures leads her to the following conclusion:
8                                  Romantic Border Crossings
II—The Translation Gateway to Elsewhere: Heterotopia and Romantic
Border Crossings

in his almost ethereal essay, “comparative Literature: the delay in translation,”
Stanley Corngold contests the notion of comparative literature as “a kind of translation,
and being a practice less transparent than translation, should take translation as its
model” (139).3 As a result, the “fidelity” between source text and target text emerges
as a liminal prosopopeia because faithfulness from one linguistic context to the other
becomes the overriding criterion for judgment and critical acceptance. Taking his cue
from Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Task of the Translator,” Corngold attempts to
subvert this reduction of comparative literature to linguistic competence and fidelity
by arguing that “analogies between literary objects” are not truly “analogous” but
relational. that relation is neither “readable on the surface” (141), nor something to
be excavated by sheer force of interpretive will. instead, the linguistic still point of
this relation produces a “play of languages [that] issues forth into languagelessness
and a patient abiding in the place where language-is-about-to-be” (142). comparative
literature must not merely be the “midwife” to translated text, it must “stand firm”
against quick association, imperfect relation, damaged analogy, even easy belief
in linguistic fidelity in order to maintain “the discipline of this mystic thing—like
language, underlying language, in between language pieces—accounted audible and
silent, archaic and new. comparative literature is a disciplined mysticism” (143).
corngold suggests that the comparatist retains full potential by not immediately
translating source text to target text, but by linking himself to and remaining in
the “moment of pure possibility” (144). yet suspending oneself within this moment
of “pure possibility—this Augenblick “packed with futurity” (144)—still seems
like yet another trope for death, for at the moment of translation, the comparatist
paradoxically unravels futurity by speaking. Even Sandra Berman, one of the editors
of the collection in which corngold’s essay appears, downplays the vitality of

    the body will grow stiff regardless of nationality. the physicality of each of us is much
    older than any of these recent divisions. In moments like this, when the baseline of life is
    extinguished and asserted at one and the same time, when the duration of an individual
    comes to an end, while deep time continues, we know that for all races, all nations, and all
    species, there is only one world (195).
    3 for radically new essays on translation, see the 2004 fall-Winter issue of Diacritics.
José maría Rodríguez garcía’s introduction explains the issue’s intentions:

    In the wake of the poststructuralist critique of both representation and referentiality, the
    impossibility of translating one culture into another is taken for granted. To argue that
    literary works are translatable, it has become necessary to explain how the alternatively
    foreignizing and nationalizing maneuvers of the translator point toward the asymmetries
    in the exchanges. this enterprise involves investigating the various ways in which the
    appropriation, and even expropriation, of the other’s image is carried out” (3).

     still, despite the “impossibility of translating one culture into another,” writers in the issue
still take on comparatist agendas. See Rosemary Arrojo’s essay “Translation, Transference,
and the Attraction to Otherness—Borges, Menard, Whitman” (31–53) and Vera M. Kutzinski’s
piece “fearful asymmetries: Langston Hughes, nicolás guillén, and Cuba Libre” (112–42).
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings                   9
translation: “a translation can at best inscribe a subsequent understanding, detailed
in a new language that can never repeat the original but, at the most, touch it from
the point of a tangent, allowing it to live into the future along a new and different
line” (263). the best translation is the one that never begins. the best translation is
ultimately a tangent. The best translation can only occur for those lucky enough (and
lonely enough) to be able to remain mired in a “languageless” condition because
of their intuitive knowledge of languages. Though not intended as such, these
gloomy assessments do not at all address the needs of professional practitioners who
joyfully read and write for a living, who bring their comparisons to the classroom for
examination and debate, who look to the future with more than a mystical hope for
linguistic nothingness and spiritual silence.
    corngold is right about the “futurity” of comparative literature, but it is not the
reorientation of translation into a “disciplined mysticism” that silences the siren’s
call to negotiate a world without limits; rather it is the transportation of the reader to
thriving heterotopias, those gateways to elsewhere, which are the key to the future of
our profession. Hence, the more appropriate metaphor for the current state of affairs
in both the theories and practices of comparative literature and Romanticism is not
death but creative chaos—a mass of whizzing rhizomes that form unpredictable
alliances and contrive unpredictable connections, spreading out to the four corners
of the globe and taking root in unimagined heterotopian landscapes. As Deleuze
and guattari might suggest, critics must “follow the rhizome by rupture; lengthen,
prolong, and relay the line of flight…” (11). Previous sampling of collections and
monographs suggests just such a plantar branching out, a disciplinary “rupture”
in a breathtaking number of directions, including intersections with the general
field of this collection of essays—comparative Romanticisms. Within the field
of comparative Romanticism, two previous collections highlight these rhizomic
intersections: Larry H. Peer and diane Hoeveler’s Comparative Romanticisms:
Power, Gender, Subjectivity (1998), gregory maertz’s Cultural Interactions in the
Romantic Age: Critical Essays in Comparative Literature (1998), and more recently,
Larry H. Peer and diane Hoeveler’s Romanticism: Comparative Discourses (2006).
In the introduction to their first collection of essays on the subject, Larry Peer and
diane Hoeveler succinctly formulate the problem:

   an approach that disdains interrelations between literary movements, generations,
   periods, and both cross-linguistic and interdisciplinary sources and influences will tend
   to submit any concept or conceptual framework to a dogmatic and authoritarian set of
   preconceptions, where even the use of terms may be garbled. (1)

This passage suggests a critique about the fluidity of comparative literature studies in
general and as we shall see, comparative romanticisms in particular. Spivak, Bassnett,
and damrosch focus their critical attention on the problematic nature of coherence
and unity as fixed literary categories for the study of comparative literature, but
Peer and Hoeveler urge a “rethinking” of these categories “that avoids the kind of
critical explication limited to single national, linguistic, or cultural traditions, or
seen through too narrowly applied contemporary theoretical ‘-isms’” (3). and while
it may be true that comparative literature’s early desire for universality generated
10                               Romantic Border Crossings
ammunition for its critics (René Wellek believed that views of Romanticism had
reached a “stabilization of opinion” 221), more contemporary studies evince a
markedly destabilized and destabilizing set of principles.
    in a different vein, gregory maertz argues that comparative literature has always
been a “subversive” discipline” (1), but he acknowledges that “ideological friction”
within the field, the shattering successes of literary theory, the reduced language
requirements in graduate curricula, and the depth of fiscal crises in the profession
have contributed to the dwindling interest in comparative literature. He adds that
the “disciplinary raison d’etre of comparative literature has become so eroded that
the goods it offers to the intellectual are virtually indistinguishable from, and often
considered less interesting than or inferior to, many others” (3). in response to this
“marginalization,” Maertz offers a collection of essays that reflects the “continuing
relevance of comparative approaches to Romanticism” and that offers “a lively
ecumenical dialogue between literary history and theory” (3). in this way, he hoped
to illustrate several types of cultural interactions during the Romantic period, as
well as to open up the field to new kinds of studies, to demonstrate the flexibility
and usefulness of the comparative perspective. maertz cites several collections as
setting the stage for these kinds of studies, notably Anne K. Mellor’s Romanticism
and Feminism (1988); Roy Porter and Mikulás Teich’s Romanticism in National
Context (1988); and Kenneth R. Johnston, gilbert chaitin, Karen Hanson, and
Herbert Marks’s Romantic Revolutions (1990). “Just as european borders in the
Romantic Age were fluid and permeable,” Maertz contends, “cultural identity
fostered through interaction was similarly elastic” (4). elasticity permits studies
in comparative romanticism to reach out and cross across the borders that loom
large in our figurations of one another and of ourselves. It is not merely utopian
impulse; rather, it is, to borrow Frederick Burwick’s phrase from his essay title,
heterotopian—the gateway to elsewhere—to remote and previously inaccessible
otherness. The recent work in global Romanticism by critics such as Joseph Lew,
greg Kucich, tim fulford, debbie Lee, and Peter Kitson only provides additional
proof that the revivification of comparative studies lies in a type of criticism that
engages literature in various forms of historical alterity and marginality, an analysis
that pushes past the seemingly unchanging, unopposed, and unexamined boundaries
of nation and nationalism but truly never arrives at new destinations or settles new
lands—always in migration, always in the act of crossing. in his spectacular essay,
“The Last Man and the New History,” Greg Kucich asks why Mary Shelley has
constructed “the historical framework” of her second novel “with such a staggering
multiplicity of temporal vantage points” (3). He exclaims:

     The narrative looks forward prophetically to the twenty-first century, from the Sibyl’s
     perspective; it looks backward, for the “Author,” into the “covered fragments of old
     Roman villas,” and forward into the fractured future etched out on the sibyl’s leaves. it
     pauses retrospectively, for Verney, on the ruins of Rome and dwells still more poignantly
     on the recent history of his departed friends and family, while also grimly prophesying an
     errant future of ceaseless global migration. the whirligig of time set in motion by these
     cross currents of historical perspective, we might speculate, functions both expose the
     limitations of mainstream historiography and to promote a new form of the revisionary
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings               11
   personalized history that shelley was learning from her female predecessors and

Kucich hits upon the precise metaphor of this volume—“an errant future of ceaseless
global migration—“errant” because shelley’s “historiographic” vision is forever
a wandering one and “ceaseless” because stopping connotes authorial death (for
shelley, for her “author,” and for Verney). finally, by “migrating” globally, Verney
forever shifts the contours of his exploration and inspection, for his journey cannot
result in colonizing a new land or establishing a permanent home. for Verney (and
for us), the gateway to heterotopia always lies elsewhere, in “the whirligig of time.”
for practitioners of Romanticism to retain their powerful subversiveness, they must
ceaselessly migrate, living in the otherness that gives rise to their productive and
creative comparativeness.
    in a special issue of European Romantic Review, entitled British Romanticism:
global crossings, editors alan Richardson and elizabeth fay rightfully announce
the “proliferation of crossings in recent Romantic studies”—“formal, generic
and genetic hybrids, the blurring or flouting of gender lines, political and literary
conspiracies, aesthetic transvaluations and surprising discursive conjunction” (i). as
Kucich might say, Romantic studies, particularly those that once were hermetically
sealed within the British isles, have migrated, almost frenetically, to all parts of the
globe. And as Fay and Richardson contend, even the once taken-for-granted sign of
“British” identity has become “internally fractured, uncertainly bounded, stretched
through the global implications of Romantic imperialism and colonialism” (i). this
recent re-conceptualization of the Romantic period has led fulford, Lee, and Kitson
to suggest that even the primacy of inwardness as a trope of the Romantic mind
must be reconfigured, since its power still depends upon a first search for something
beyond itself, or, as they aptly describe this “shift as looking beyond to see in” (5).

III—The Essays in this Collection

Not surprisingly, Fred Burwick, whose essay opens this collection and whose work
has consistently crisscrossed national and other theoretical boundaries, directly
addresses this re-conceptualization when he speaks of the theater as the supreme
site for encountering otherness. citing Robert young’s White Mythologies, Burwick
argues that representations of the orient, among other things, point to the West’s
“dislocation” from itself, a desire to vicariously meet cultural others and to enter
into “the inside/outside disjunctures” that heterotopian narratives reify. the stage
offers a vivid and intense voyeuristic enactment of otherness, achievable precisely
because of the intense performativity and the hyperbolic artifices embedded within
Romantic theatricality. even docu-drama, a dramatic form that gained popularity
during the period, Burwick writes, “is marked by the inherent difference of the
performative act.” Burwick gives Charles Dibdin’s Edward and Susan; or, the
Beauty of Buttermere and The Gamblers as two of the most sensational of the period
plays, the first recalling the actions of the swindler and bigamist, John Hatfield, while
the second exploits the notorious crimes of the murderer, John Thurtell. Burwick
cites these plays as examples of theatrical representation, which not only do not
12                            Romantic Border Crossings
confirm social and cultural codes of conduct, they actually “displace” the social and
ethical practices that “ground” codified rules of behavior. “Their aestheticization
as dramatic performance,” Burwick says, parallels De Quincey’s artistic principle
of idem in alio—“identity in alterity, sameness in difference.” furthermore,
idem in alio provides the very “two-way interaction” that becomes the staple for
all Romantic border crossings, for “What is familiar is rendered strange; what is
strange is rendered familiar.” Burwick then explores transcultural interactions, the
dimensions of heterotopic ‘elsewheres’, in the french, spanish, and oriental settings
of such plays as elizabeth inchbald’s Animal Magnetism (1788), Hannah cowley’s
A Bold Stroke For Husband (1783), friedrich schiller’s Die Räuber (1781), august
von Kotzebue’s Die Spanier in Peru (1795), george colman’s Blue-beard (1798),
felicia Hemans’s Siege of Valencia (1823), and Lord Byron’s Sardanapalus (1821).
Theoretically locating much of the Orientalized Otherness within the framework
of said’s Orientalism, Burwick concludes that the “elsewhere” represented on the
Romantic stage “provides a matrix for authorial manipulation of levels of reference.”
But far from reinforcing the social and cultural stereotypes that separate the audience
from the characters on the stage, such a matrix actually breaks down the walls of
seeming separation between the audience and the cultural others that they briefly but
profoundly encounter.
    Valerie Henitiuk and Talissa Ford both confront the problem of writers
acknowledging and then representing the boundary conditions that frame their social,
cultural, and political conditioning. Following Terry Castle, Henitiuk interrogates the
“exquisite extremism” of inchbald’s novel A Simple Story by focusing on inchbald’s
“need to cross borderlines,” even as “external and internal forces” prevent her from
doing so. For Henitiuk, the tension between these competing impulses manifests
itself in terms of the liminal moments that Lady matilda, the novel’s heroine, shares
with her father, Lord elmwood, whose powerful expectations constrain matilda
within a patriarchal ethos. Liminality is dangerous precisely because its presence
points to the “revolutionary implications” of alternatives, but it is also necessary
if the “liminar” (in this case Lady Matilda) is to imagine and break through the
ordinary, institutional structures that bound (and bind) her, organizing her life around
restrictive community principles. Henitiuk fixes upon the paradoxical arrangement
surrounding matilda living with her father, in which she can only dwell with him
on the condition that she never make her presence known, and asserts that Matilda’s
presence through absence deconstructs the thoroughgoing patriarchal dominance that
matilda must endure. “as daughter to a disgraced mother and a tyrannical father,”
Henitiuk cleverly argues, “Matilda is literally taboo,” reinforcing the continual threat
to Lord Elmwood’s authority simply by her existence. She remains a liminal figure
since she simultaneously lives on the protected periphery of her father’s estate, yet
she also draws attention to the harsh boundaries he wishes put in place.
    In her essay, “Byron Under the Black Flag,” Talissa Ford highlights Byron’s
playful journal entry that he will cut off his own son if he becomes a writer,
bringing him up in an alternative profession, mentioning the possibility of raising
a pirate instead of a poet. Having just completed The Corsair, Byron exploits the
liminality of his son’s infancy in order to demonstrate a “new and piratical way
of understanding how territory works: borders mean nothing, and movement is
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings             13
everything.” Unlike the Turks, who threaten national and international boundaries,
pirates recognize no boundaries at all. citing captain Johnson’s A General History
of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724) as the most
notorious example of romanticized stories of pirates, ford argues that A General
History becomes an important pre-text for Byron’s emerging post-Corsair ideas
because the book embodies his frustration against governments and their regulations,
which perforce restrict and control the actions of their citizens. at the same moment
that Napoleon is being “repeatedly knocked from his pedestal,” Ford states: “Byron
catches a low-grade piratical fever,” which manifests itself in both Beppo and Don
Juan. Pirates reify the radical elements of the glorious Revolution, and they are even
multicultural. As Ford observes, “Pirates were, in fact and fiction, multi-racial and
multi-national—or rather, super-racial and super-national—composed of races and
nationalities, integrated—and to some extent abandoned—under the Jolly Roger.”
this is not to say that pirates have no governance; indeed, Byron perhaps sees their
allegiance to their outlaw leaders as a necessary predisposition toward egalitarianism
and democracy in an unegalitarian and undemocratic age. a “dematerialization
of borders” provides the precondition for a new government and a new society—
homelessness and displacement are not merely states of being, they are processes
and movements that constitute cultural practices that both produce and reproduce as
expressions of political freedom and movement, and as communitarian celebrations
of libertarian impulse and enhanced social circulation.
    though azérad, Broszeit-Rieger, and dillmann have written essays that fall
within the traditional boundaries of comparative and national literatures, they also
call into question the conventional literary and critical models that have most often
engaged readers of gerard de nerval, Johann Wolfgang von goethe, and gottfried
august Bürger. though recognizing the explanatory power of said’s theoretical
model in Orientalism, which attempts to demonstrate that nerval’s poetry epitomizes
the Western habit of evoking stereotyped representations of the Orient, Azérad views
nerval’s poetry, particularly in its aesthetics, as emblematic of the “utopian side of
modernism.” nerval’s poetry, in fact, embodies “a coherent aesthetic project” that
affirms poetic art as process and not as closure or final product. Drawing from the
romantic irony of Heine, Schiller, and Jean Paul, Nerval makes use of poetry as
“creative opposition.” fragmenting the narrative through a series of narrative shifts,
nerval effectively transforms the narrator’s voice in Voyage en Orient into a “nomadic
presence” that never truly coalesces into a recognizable shape but shimmers as a
collection of polyphonic voices. even nerval’s use of prose becomes an example of
a modernist avant la lettre since he remains psychically attracted yet constitutionally
opposed to the “changing cityscape, the ideology of economic progress, [and] the
rise of capitalism and positivist thinking.” For Nerval, the Orient lies within. As
such, it counters saidian orientalism, which renders the orient passive and external.
The ‘I’ of Nerval’s work lives, therefore, in liminality, lying “between a Western
incarnation of spleen and an oriental persona.” the narrator inhabits utopian space,
which for azérad suggests a protean subjectivity—always crossing borders, forever
homeless, perpetually in transit.
    in her essay on goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Wanderungen, Broszeit-Rieger outlines
the ways in which Wilhelm meister’s “apprenticeship” illustrates “different family
14                            Romantic Border Crossings
constructs” and the ways in which they shape an impressionable young man like
Wilhelm meister. following the psychoanalytic insights of eissler, Kittler, and greiner,
as well as borrowing from Lawrence stone’s taxonomy of family structure, Broszeit-
Rieger contends, “goethe’s Meister stages family in conflict between three family
types, and furthermore, that mothering and fathering appear separable from individual
characters.” this latter argument ensures that, as a character, Wilhelm meister never
reverts to conventional or traditional type. in fact, there is nothing conservative
about the narrative at all, and reluctant to propose a sentimental familial resolution,
the novels rely instead on “crossovers between family types, and transgressions of
gender and generation.” though initially predictable in his rejection of the father’s
world of business and in his acceptance of the mother’s choice of theater, a stage on
which he literally enacts his oedipal anxieties, the theater ultimately becomes for
Wilhelm meister his occupation, his “business,” his Geschäft. this conclusion hints
at an uneasy resolution in which “the motherly world of imagination and the fatherly
world of business converge.” the novel may criticize the bourgeois nuclear family,
but as it navigates among the family constructs that goethe describes throughout
the narrative, it never quite manages to leave behind its patriarchal ethos. instead,
as Broszeit-Rieger says, Wilhelm Meister “reflects more than just nostalgia” it also
urges an alliance between the modern nuclear family and the pre-nuclear family, a
convergence that would benefit the individuals and the communities that embraced
both types, yet it is a union that does not necessarily promise to be harmonious.
Broszeit-Rieger finally proposes, though she does not necessarily endorse, a
Butlerian reading of Wilhelm Meister, in which Wilhelm as a young man “engages
in the process of becoming a woman, when he rescues mignon from her abuser,” an
iteration of the emotional sympathy he feels for his mother once he recognizes that
his mother endures her own process of “becoming” a woman. drawing on Benjamin
Bennett’s Goethe as Woman, Broszeit-Rieger considers an interpretive possibility
about “a femininity that escapes patriarchal control”—a “subversive multiplicity,” to
use Butler’s term, which calls into question the conventional binaries of gender that
underwrite more conventional readings of Wilhelm Meister.
    gabriele dillmann renders august Bürger’s “Lenore” as a poem that not only
reflects the conventions of traditional folksong, the theory of which he lifts from
Herder’s writings on Volkspoesie, but an affirmation of the privileging of Naturdichtung
(natural poetic art) over Kunstdichtung (poetic artistry). Bürger uses the ballad form
of “Lenore,” therefore, to extend a kind of naturalized expressiveness to readers who
wish to viscerally feel the loss and mourning Bürger represents in “Lenore” and not
merely to admire its poetic pyrotechnics. Like Broszeit-Rieger, Dillmann makes use
of freudian psychoanalytic theory, but dillmann wishes to interrogate the nature of
trauma in the poem as a way of confronting “annihilation anxiety,” and not as a means
of illustrating the family as an emotional and philosophical construct. Lenore’s loss of
her lover results in her wailing grief, displaying both an odd interest in sexual taboo
and, a perennial staple for Romantic writers, the temptations of suicide. in addition,
and unlike the positive mothering Wilhelm Meister receives in Goethe’s work, in
“Lenore,” we discover it is the mother who clings to outmoded religious beliefs, an
“imperative to have faith in god’s goodness and wisdom,” which does not provide
Lenore with either psychological relief or spiritual comfort. to be sure, Lenore’s
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings              15
inconsolability readily suggests the possibility of fragmentation of personality, but
her uncontrollable grief additionally points to a psychological madness that appears
indistinguishable from spiritual psychosis. Bürger transfers this desire for death to
the realm of the mythical since the lover’s ghost carries her off into the howling
forest, rather than permitting Lenore to submit to her suicidal ideation. But Bürger
does not resolve the problem of transcending emotional borders through loss and
mourning; he merely defers them. For him, grief after loss defies “moralistic” and
“ideological self-righteousness,” but it also forms the basis for gothic heterotopia, an
unstoppable crossing over into the realm of the spiritually undead.
    the next trio of essays ranges over cross-disciplinary approaches to historical and
literary topics. miriam Wallace explores the accepted distinctions between “Jacobin
novels,” which displayed solidarity with British reform and “anti-Jacobin novels,”
which suggested “a rejection of all that could be associated with ‘Jacobinism.’”
“Jacobin,” Wallace rightly points out, “is already marked as a misprision, a foreign
political term wrenched from its original significance to serve local political ends.”
With publications such as the Anti-Jacobin Weekly (1797), the Anti-Jacobin Magazine
and Literary Censor (1798-1821), “Jacobinism” became a demonizing “catch-all”
for anyone sympathetic at all to reformist causes or principles. Wallace argues,
however, that modern scholarship has tended to “overdetermine” the differences
between “Jacobin” and anti-Jacobin,” such that it has become nearly impossible
to discuss, for example, the works of William Godwin or Mary Wollstonecraft
without placing within a “Jacobin” context. furthermore, Wallace claims, “satirical
or sentimental narratives that revisit these works” naturally fall under the category of
“anti-Jacobin.” in both instances, the revolutionary attitudes of the one and intensely
anti-revolutionary ideology of the other preclude a more productive understanding
of the terms, particularly since the terms appear historically at the same time,
“emerging in complex conversation with continuing debates on reforming political
and social institutions.” indeed, Wallace asserts that the term “anti-Jacobin,” far
from being reactive to British Jacobinism, in fact, “creates” and “disciplines” it.
Taking as a critical starting point, Gary Kelly’s important work The English Jacobin
Novel and its long list of “anti-Jacobin” works, including, among others, Charlotte
smith’s The Banished Man (1794), Jane West’s A Tale of the Times (1799), elizabeth
Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800), charles Lucas’s The Infernal
Quixote (1801), Wallace attempts to problematize what we mean by the term “anti-
Jacobin,” effectively concluding that these works frequently support the same
“social concerns” and appropriate the same “literary strategies” from the very works
they seemingly condemn. Thus, both “ostensibly” Jacobin and anti-Jacobin works
make use of parodic textual citation, satirical representations of persons or types,
and tropes of sentimental narrative. as a result, the conventional critical descriptors
separating them are inadequate in outlining their complexities. charles Lucas
The Infernal Quixote embeds, for instance, “anti-godwin diatribes” yet Lucas’s
conception of “christian forgiveness and reformation accords with godwin’s
notion of rational reformation through an understanding of error” and novels such
as opie’s Adeline Mowbray or Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers “ought to be read
as part of an extended continuum from the more radical positions of mary Hays
to distinctly reformist but conciliatory positions.” Without an acknowledgement of
16                             Romantic Border Crossings
this “continuum,” critical discussions of “Jacobinism” and “anti-Jacobinism” will
continue to inflate their distinctions and ignore their intertextual connections.
    Michelle Faubert makes a persuasive case for studying both the relationship
between early forms of psychiatry and the creation of Romantic poetry by affirming
the importance of the effects that Romantic poetry had on medical science.
Acknowledging the work of Frederick Burwick and Alan Richardson and their
efforts to elucidate the effects of medical science on the production and significance
of Romantic poetry, faubert nonetheless wishes to illustrate how Romantic poetry
may have affected the medical models of early psychiatrists. Beginning with Hunter
and Macalpine’s “monumental” work Three Hundred years of Psychiatry and their
observation that many psychiatric physicians of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries wrote verse, faubert probes their literary writing for answers to questions
related to the integration of poetic and scientific identities, as well as any subversion
of their medical identity through their literary “constructions.” agreeing with
anna seward, who targets erasmus darwin for creating a “new class of poetry,”
Faubert discusses the poetry of Thomas Bakewell, Thomas Beddoes, and Thomas
Brown, early psychiatrists who contribute to this new “class of poetry.” disputing
coleridge’s claim that science and poetry can never really “blend” because the
former concerns truth while the latter prefers pleasure, these scientist-poets endeavor
to show the value of creating a “truly scientific poetry.” Faubert proceeds to tease
out important connections between Thomas Bakewell’s A Domestic Guide, in cases
of Insanity (1805) and The Moorland Bard (1807), thomas Brown’s Lectures on the
Philosophy of the Human Mind (1820) and The Paradise of Coquettes, a poem in
nine parts (1814), and thomas Beddoes’ Hygëia (1803) and Alexander’s Expedition
(1792). creating a “psychiatric focus” for the study of Romantic poetry, faubert
hopes, therefore, to “gain insights into how experts in the medical realm understood
the purpose of verse in relation to early mental science, as well as the relationship
between the authorial identity of the medical writer and that of the poet.”
    Contending that the relationship in the eighteenth century between fiction and
history was “fraught with conflict,” Bronwyn Rivers first distinguishes a philological
or antiquarian history (david Hume’s The History of England and edward gibbons’
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) with “humanist” history, which provided
“moral or practical” instruction. this interrogation of the nature of history and the
“truth-status of events” plays out in the work of early novelists like Defoe, Richardson,
and Fielding, who introduce “the problematic relationship between fact and fiction.”
The appearance of the Gothic novel in the 1790s marks, therefore, not a departure
or escape from history, but a firm grounding in historiography and epistemology.
indeed, gothic novels, Rivers argues, remains a genre fundamentally concerned with
the past—the medieval past (a favorite setting of Gothic writers), the specific and
more immediate national past of England, and the tortuous and conflicted present of
volatile politics and revolution, evidenced by the american and french Revolutions.
While gothic novels remain overdetermined within revolutionary contexts and thus
with British anxiety about constitutional debate and the direction of national history,
these literary works also “engage…with more abstract issues of historiography and
the nature of knowledge itself.” With the imposition of supernatural events, the
Gothic tests the “historically plausible” and raises doubt about what is known and
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings             17
what is knowable, even as it ostensibly supports the notion that “everything has
a rational explanation.” not only is the process of acquiring information “fraught
with uncertainty,” Rivers suggests, but also the scope of realist fiction, which Gothic
fiction challenges, is so narrow as to obviate the need for or pursuit of imaginative
power. Burke’s endorsement of the sublime (and Radcliffe’s appropriation of it)
promotes the subjective, which pure reason and rationality occlude. crossing into
the gothic thus renders “history” problematic, for the gothic deliberately sustains
the tension between natural and supernatural, objectivity and subjectivity, holding in
abeyance the reader’s faith in his/her rationality or ability to judge events, process
information, and establish facts. Rivers then employs Radcliffe’s novel The Italian
to illustrate forcefully gothic strategies of occlusion and misinformation, which
question “the nature of narrative, knowledge, and history.”
     the Romantic circles Pedagogies section and its new journal Romantic Pedagogy
Commons, a journal devoted to the teaching of Romantic literature with new
technologies ( forcefully hints at the emerging
interest in the theoretical and practical interconnections between Romanticism and
teaching. The links to electronic texts and web-based tools (including course syllabi,
virtual learning environments, and listservs) reinforce the rising preoccupation
with the praxis of scholarship within the field of Romanticism—with the need to
recontextualize and repackage formidable and often uninviting scholarship within
friendlier, more interactive and visually dynamic environments for the students who
take our courses. Some books have been published in the area of teaching Romantic
literature (for example, MLA’s multi-volume series on the teaching of specific
Romantic writers), and yet recent collections of Romantic scholarship have not
always devoted space to the teaching of Romantic literature. for this volume, three
senior scholars redress the dearth of discussion on teaching Romantic literature,
both from national and comparative perspectives, by reaffirming pedagogy as an
oft-neglected category of Romantic scholarship and inquiry, a border crossing to
which we have traditionally paid lip service but seldom interrogated. in an era of
fiscal and institutional accountability, we can ill afford to merely show obeisance.
We must demonstrate action. on the other hand, these essays are not merely
recapitulations of personal teaching strategies (though, of course, there is enormous
value in essays of this type); instead, they are openings into the processes of doing
Romantic scholarship, of shaping the field of Romantic inquiry. In short, these
essays intentionally pose far more questions than they answer. as such, their target
audience is students who are taking their first steps into the analysis of Romanticism,
every bit as much as it is faculty members who engage in the teaching of Romantic
texts, for both participate in the production of knowledge about Romanticism. As
stephen c. Behrendt suggests in his essay, collections such as this one must help
redefine the contours of the community of Romantic scholarship so that students are
not merely receptacles of our wisdom, but partners in its formation.
     in the hotly contested but fertile areas of orientalism and British drama, marjean
Purinton makes relevant current debates about representations of Arabia and “the role
these representations have played in the ongoing Western constructions of arabia
and arab identity, current anti-arab sentiments, and racial stereotyping.” following
the lead of edward said, Purinton argues that the staging of British dramas in this
18                            Romantic Border Crossings
period renders frequently enacts an “Arabia” that simultaneously signifies “a fantastic
mystery and a threatening ‘otherland’” because the oriental other embodies both
real experience of the colony and the imagined nature of its inhabitants. despite
an actual knowledge of Arabia and its geography, British playwrights draw upon a
repertory (to use said’s word) of exotic and terrifying imagery to create landscapes
that reify cultural conceptions of “orientalism in general and arabia in particular”
and what these conceptions indicate for British imperialism. the large numbers of
plays that exploit arabian “geography” include Richard cumberland’s The Arab
(1785) and Alcanor (1813), elizabeth inchbald’s The Egyptian Boy (1790), William
Wordsworth’s The Borderers (1796–1797), thomas John dibdin’s The Mouth of
the Nile; or, the Glorious First of August (1798); felicia Hemans’s The Siege of
Valencia (1823), and thomas Lovell Beddoes’ Death’s Jest Book or The Fool’s
Tragedy (1825–1829). the British stage becomes an archaeological “site” where
students perceive how the British obsession with arab culture—from reading The
Arabian Nights to decoding egyptian hieroglyphics with the Rosetta stone—“is
contingent upon the relationship between spectators and theatrical presentations
of arab characters, settings, and cultural practices.” “the performative and
representational arabia of Romantic drama,” Purinton writes, “constitutes therefore
an effective vehicle for teaching orientalism.” Laying out these representational
patterns in the work of Cumberland, Hemans, Hannah More, Elizabeth Inchbald,
thomas Lovell Beddoes, and Joanna Baillie, Purinton also suggests ways in which
British drama inflicts its “colonial self-portrait” upon the audience, demonstrating
how the students themselves, as spectators of the drama, are interpellated into
its cultural logics, making them the very Orientalists that they should obviously
criticize. For Purinton, the final piece of this Orientalist puzzle and its connections
to the teaching of the British Orientalist stage lie with a text students know little
about but are more than familiar with, James Robinson Planché’s Beauty and the
Beast. in Planché’s pre-disney version, the “beauty” of christianity and the “beast”
of islam pitch a subterranean battle, in which the “easter” question stands in for the
“eastern” question. the British Romantic stage is thus one of the important sites for
an imperial ideology “that has significantly shaped current western notions of Arabia
and what it means to be an arab.”
    Stephen C. Behrendt argues for the necessity of breaking through disciplinary
borders in Romantic scholarship and the teaching of Romanticism, boundary
conditions that have not been principally constricted by professional paradigms.
Behrendt cites the parameters related to time (the twenty-minute conference
paper or a semester- or quarter-based curriculum), concept (historically-packaged
and chronologically-arranged curriculum), and genre (anthologies that stress the
inclusion of poetry because of time constraints). What strikes Behrendt as particularly
troubling is the “incomplete picture” his colleagues, even “sophisticated scholars”
of Romanticism, admit to having “of the Romantic literary community considered
as a whole.” Because of these limitations, courses in Romantic studies become the
reflection of genres to which individual scholars are accustomed. Behrendt urgently
recommends reform by moving past the “borders” which “have historically both
demarcated and provincialized the territory of Romantic studies” and instead “to work
collectively to generate a more expansive, dialogical model of the Romantic literary
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings             19
community and culture. a communal ethos will result in “greater sophistication
and cultural sensitivity in how we represent and interrogate British (indeed all)
Romantic writing in our scholarship and in our classrooms, where we ourselves
are engaged in shaping the scholars and teachers who will follow us.” Behrendt
notes the explosion of recovered (and newly “accessible”) Romantic literary texts,
particularly in the area of women writers, which has “challenged the historically
male-centered canon” and has provided alternative models for constructing a version
of the Romantic period. Recovery projects in poetry, drama, and fiction comprise
a “literary archeology” that ought to redefine the scope and shape of Romantic
literary history. Behrendt recognizes, of course, that “calendar-driven models”
of curriculum delivers are not about to disappear, and he modestly proposes that
within our professional constraints, we adopt “new, more effective and historically
accurate ways of representing” the Romantic literary community, including many
kinds of period texts (e.g. drama, non-fiction prose, print journalism, extra-literary
materials in the visual arts, music, and “street” theater). furthermore, following Paul
Keen, Behrendt advocates increasing professional dialogue that mulls strategies
“for developing coherent, manageable curricular and pedagogical models from this
increasingly daunting wealth of materials.” Behrendt wishes to draw students into
that dialogue and partner with them. together, he suggests, the Romantic literary
community enacts what Keen viewed as a “complex field of writing and reading
shaped by a range of commercial, political, and social factors.” Behrendt ominously
concludes by warning us that only by dialogically and collectively ferreting out these
problems and finding adaptive solutions to them, will we be able to “reconfigure”
productive versions of Romanticism that connect to the rest of the world, an especially
crucial outcome at a moment in the history of the academy “when so much of the
profession is engaged in rigorous self-assessment.”
    I summarize Kari Lokke’s and Lilach Lachman’s essays together because together
they represent the most important student-learning outcome that is embedded in our
programs—academic writing (indeed all writing) is a collective process. Writers are
not maverick loners; they must constantly engage with one another, tackling thorny
issues dialectically and rendering judgments conditionally. theirs are also essays that
confront the problem of transatlantic literary influence, with the figure of Günderode
becoming pivotal for underscoring intertextual connections to Emily Dickinson
and her poetry. In Lokke’s piece, the suicide scene of Karoline von Günderode
(her Liebestod) becomes impetus for Bettine von arnim’s pastiche Günderode,
which compiles Karoline’s “poems, plays, philosophical dialogues and essays” and
“weaves them together into a lyrical epistolary novel.” Lokke emphasizes that her
essay “traces the cultural echoes of Karoline’s performance of Liebestod, both in
her life and in her art, and suggests that they made their way into Emily Dickinson’s
poetry through the vehicle of Arnim’s book written in her honor.” Already known by
the transcendentalists for her fictionalized account of her friendship with Wolfgang
von goethe (in Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child), Bettine von arnim becomes
so popular that Louisa may alcott imagines herself “an american Bettina with
emerson as her goethe.” even margaret fuller translates portions of her novel and
writes an article for the Dial on Bettina’s friendship with Karoline. Emily Dickinson’s
editor, thomas Higginson, introduced Bettine von arnim’s Günderode to her, and
20                            Romantic Border Crossings
the effect, according to Barton St. Armand, was staggering, permitting Dickinson to
create a “private mythology of the self,” as well as to construct her “poses” in her
correspondence with Higginson, Susan Dickinson, and perhaps others.
    Lokke makes clear, however, that this is merely an opening salvo in the dialogue
she wishes to effect, precisely the lesson students need to internalize about the nature
of writing and scholarship—it’s dialogic, perpetually in motion, never-ending,
always reigniting. Lokke writes: “I present [Arnim’s novel] here in the hopes that
Dickinson scholars will wish to explore it further in order to understand what she
might have learned form the excesses, both emotional and rhetorical, of arnim’s Die
Günderode and the tragic figure that was its focus.”
    Lachman’s essay is not only a response to Lokke’s essay; it delves into its
own mode of production as well, clearly demonstrating the process of scholarly
accretion, how ideas develop because of the conversations writers have with one
another in print. Lachman hears Lokke’s presentation at NASSR (the conference
for the north american society for the study of Romanticism) on Bettine von
Arnim’s “hovering religion” and following the talk, Lachman asks whether or not
Dickinson’s “vision of the poetry of nature as an ‘unobtrusive Mass’ (F895) may
have taken its clue from von Arnim’s ‘schwebe-religion.’” This initial dialogue sets
in motion Lachman’s thinking about how women writers create “new frameworks”
in which they “test, challenge, and transform” the conceptions of love and death
held by their cultures. In the case of Dickinson’s preoccupation with death, Lachman
stresses e.d.’s appropriation of the model provided by von arnim’s Liebestod and
argues for Dickinson’s “provocative deployment of a deathbed model inherited from
her own calvinistic and Victorian culture.” While Lachman argues for some “rough
distinctions” between Arnim’s and Dickinson’s “constructs of death,” she remains
intensely interested in how Dickinson transforms Arnim’s “Romantic eroticization
of death into a subjective interiority,” how she embeds arnim’s “shaping of death
and then extends and modifies it, thus according it new values.” While Lachman
has begun the process of finalizing her own interpretation of Arnim’s influence on
Dickinson and outlining how that influence plays out in Dickinson’s representations
of Liebestod, her honest description of her thought processes and the background
for her scholarly sketch also provides a metacommentary for students struggling
with their own ideas, with their own expression in writing. in this way, and despite
the abstruseness of the texts discussed, Lokke’s and Lachman’s interventions
in transatlantic studies amply demonstrate not only an emerging area in what
Behrendt calls the “Romantic literary community,” they also illustrate the necessity
of scholarly dialogue, the basis for any successful classroom pedagogy or inculcation
of the processes of academic writing.
    At present, Transatlantic Studies is one of the hottest fields within the Romantic
literary community, as two recent studies suggest. Helen thomas’ Romanticism and
Slave Narratives connects traditional British Romantic texts to writings within the
african diaspora, such as the poetry of Phyllis Wheatley and the autobiographical
narrative of olaudah equiano. and in a recent issue of Romanticism on the Net
(, Laura mandell edits a
special issue devoted to women writers and transatlanticism. Citing the work of
isobel armstrong, tricia Lootens, and meredith mcgill, mandell attempts to place
                Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings              21
the “poetess” tradition within a transnational branching out, women conversing with
each other across national boundaries, across oceanic frontiers. transatlanticism
conforms, as Mandell suggests, to what Deleuze and Guattari have called “the first
sort of deterritorialization” (Paragraph 51). this deterritorialization permits a true
conversational exchange, and, as we shall see, not only among women writers. it
is a conversation not usually explained within the confines of canonical Romantic
literature, but it is one that wrestles with the moorings of the canon. as previously
indicated, Kari Lokke’s and Lilah Lachman’s essays on Bettine von Arnim and
Emily Dickinson fall under this emerging transatlantic rubric. As well, the last two
essays in the collection reach across the ocean to connect america to the rest of the
world—Jeanne cortiel reaching across to egypt and the orientalized hieroglyph
to explain race and ethnicity in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and sohui Lee
uncovering the British roots of america’s ideology of manifest destiny.
    Jeanne cortiel places her discussion of race and ethnicity in Whitman’s 1855
edition of Leaves of Grass within current critical models that analyzed the role and
function of “egypt” in mid-nineteenth-century american culture. cortiel argues that
egypt assists in both the creation of a “coherent american national identity” and
a fierce opposition to the coherence of such cultural politics. Borrowing from the
work of Scott Trafton, Stephen Tapscott, Martin Klammer, and Ed Folsom, Cortiel
focuses “on the oblique figure of Egypt” in Whitman’s work, rather than on his
direct representations of blackness or whiteness in order to promote a reading that
“unravels the complex ways in which his texts absorb, shape, and rework racial
alterity and selfhood.” Cortiel acknowledges that for many critics, “race” is the fault
line in Whitman’s work, with one side asserting that Whitman the journalist embodies
the mainstream racism of the period while the other believes that “universal human
equality” can be retrieved from a closer look at Whitman the poet. In addition to the
racial politics Whitman’s critics interrogate, Cortiel also borrows from Paul Outka’s
“queering of these politics” in his cleverly titled “Whitman and Race (‘He’s Here,
He’s Unclear, Get Used to It’).” Outka oddly believes that Whitman’s journalistic
racism and poetic progressivism do not contradict one another. Rather, they form a
“circuit” that (in Outka’s phrasing) “binds” and “releases” Whitman’s “eroticized
political energies.” Outka’s insights provide Cortiel with an interpretive paradigm
for understanding Whitman’s shifting ground with regard to both race and sexuality
because in the 1855 Leaves of Grass Egypt reifies the ongoing “tension” between
“cultural cohesion” and “cultural multiplicity.” in fact, the “grass” in Whitman’s title
is the ultimate hieroglyph, indecipherable and indeterminate, uniform yet dissolute.
Disciplining Whitman’s representations of American identity—unpacking their
ethnology, making them conform to manifest principles or predetermined ideologies
by unraveling (with apologies to Wordsworth) the mystery of the splendor in
the grass—“becomes,” in cortiel’s words, “both urgently necessary and utterly
    Finally, Sohui Lee explores the significance of Louis O’Sullivan’s famous term
“manifest destiny,” which he coins in the Democratic Review (1845). Lee examines
manifest destiny, one of the main sources of american exceptionalism, within an
interpretive transnational frame, rather than a nationalist one bounded mainly by the
fervent expansionism of Jacksonian Democrats. Confirming Amy Kaplan’s point
22                             Romantic Border Crossings
that american political rhetoric of the time “turns imperial conquest into spiritual
regeneration in order to efface internal conflict or external resistance,” Lee suggests
that Jacksonian discourse confirms Britain as a victimizing and imperialist “foil” in
order to vindicate america’s own colonial expansion, which appears virtuous and
pure to an inflamed public imagination. Lee cites Richard Rush’s Memoranda of a
Residence at the Court of London, in which Rush, President madison’s designated
treaty negotiator in London, denies that the United states acts “in the same colonizing
‘spirit’ as great Britain.” Rush gives the examples of the “floridas,” which the United
states pays for equitably, fairly, and without military intervention. in 1844, President
Polk suggests much the same moral justification when he argues for the annexation of
texas, given the clear and present danger of Britain’s “encroachment” on american
territory. in other words, americans acquire their lands fairly and ethically; the
British use brute force and threaten national sovereignty. even with the dispute over
the Oregon territory, “radical expansionists…vocalized what moderates…stopped
short of saying but were, no doubt, silently hoping”—the elimination of British
power on the continent. american patriotic poetry expresses similar sentiments.
William gilmore simms, for example, writes about the immoral acts of violence that
the British commit in their imperial conquests in his poem “apostrophe to ocean”
(also published in the Democratic Review). and in his poem “the canadian avatar,”
Simms vilifies the British for their violence against Canadians. Though impelled by
competition with the British for territory, the supreme irony of the rhetoric of manifest
destiny, one that has an eerie contemporary resonance, stems from the american
desire to extend “a dominion of peace” over indigenous populations that presumably
wish to be governed by a “nonviolent and diplomatic” United states. sohui Lee
argues that by perceiving the transatlantic rivalry between the United states and
great Britain, one can pierce the rhetorical, moral, and ideological complications
inherent in manifest destiny. americans ardently wish to believe that their acquisition
of territory does not occur, as Britain’s does, from a sinister and violent imperialism,
but instead arises from the superior “heart” of american democracy.
    in Romanticism, Aesthetics, and Nationalism, David Aram Kaiser opens his book
by stating, “in contemporary literary theory, the indeterminate quality of literary
language is often connected to progressive political principles, while determinate
language is connected to totalizing political ideology” (1). He further stipulates
that in some models of literary history, “literary indeterminacy both originates in
Romanticism and is its archetypal achievement” (1). if true, the success of Romantic
“indeterminacy” demands a critical engagement with ‘otherness,’ a persistent entry
and re-entry into the gateways of elsewhere. the suggestive interventions offered
in this collection occlude a “totalizing” and demonizing demagoguery that often
hamstrings our profession by preventing dialogue and promoting ideology. this
collection manifests an intellectual productivity precisely because of the eclectic
border crossings interrogated throughout—crossings into history, literature,
language, genre, and pedagogy and across histories, literatures, languages, genres,
and pedagogies. It is a volume that iterates a kind of comparative textual analysis that
had been declared dead. It is a book that affirms the flexibility and endurance of the
Romantic literary community. But, at the last, it also hails the Romantics themselves,
canonical and non-canonical, famous and obscure, aristocratic and working class,
               Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings          23
settled and emergent, who had a deeply passionate appreciation of the world and
who intuited the value of what isaiah Berlin has called “the imperfections of life”
(147). With “life” being the operative word, these “imperfections” are actually
affirmations; they most assuredly are not tropes of death.

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