I want to say it was Stephen Fry who argued that John Keats might have gone on to become the next William Shakespeare had he lived a bit longer, though it may have in fact have been Christopher Hitchens. It’s odd not knowing the origin of that quote, because I get those two mixed up rarely—then again, the accent and a general contempt for belief in any sort of divine being are traits common to both these men, so I’ll cut myself some slack. It is an interesting statement when taken from afar, because at first I’m willing to agree with it. Upon reflection, however, I feel that this is in fact a real disservice to John Keats as a poet, for while Shakespeare is a standard that I think many writers should aspire to (or at least would appreciate as a lovely comparison), I think Keats as a writer managed in his own way to attain his own identity. Continue reading Shields and Urns and Beauty and Misery: What Wonders Were the Greeks
On a recent visit to the Chazen Art Museum located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus I stumbled across a literal cabinet of curiosities. Sculptor Martha Glowacki’s mixed media sculpture titled “My Arcadia”, composed in 2000 [pictured below] is an eerie dark wood Victorian inspired cabinet of fifteen drawers and opening at the top that holds three plants preserved in smoky graphite. Viewers are welcomed to open each drawer, and when they do they might react on a scale of disgust to delight in seconds. Continue reading “My Arcadia” and Romantic Creation in America’s Midwest
This is a sketch I did a number of years ago. It was published originally on my blog White Tower Musings, but I wanted to share it since it was inspired by one of the most, possibly overused but still brilliant poems, Ozymandias by Percy Shelley.
The poem has always been one of my favorites because of its ability to really convey the ephemeral nature of Mankind’s creations. Men build egos and empires, and in the end it all fades. Nature is the only force that lasts.
Here’s a link to the original post:
In my last post, I previewed my newest introductory-level literature course, “Reading Romanticism Today,” where my freshman writing students and I have just wrapped up a unit on “Nature and the Sublime.” As Seth Wilson recently reminded us, the concept of the “sublime” can be a wily one to pin down, even for (or maybe, especially for) scholars who study authors that were themselves fascinated by this aesthetic and philosophical notion.
For the purpose of this course, we’ve been exploring the “sublime” by mashing together some of Romanticism’s greatest hits—Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” Shelley’s “Mont Blanc”—with contemporary media pieces, such as a recent documentary on the Cosmos hosted by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson (discussed in September’s post). The paper assignment that culminated this unit asked students to find their own example of the sublime in an artwork they would choose from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The pieces could be from any historical moment, but each one had to connect to a Romantic poem. Here, I offer some of the students’ fascinating finds: Continue reading Reading Romanticism Today: Artistry of the Sublime