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Sweet ScienceRomantic Materialism and the New Logics of Life$
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Amanda Jo Goldstein

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226458441

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226458588.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 22 October 2019

Introduction: “Sweet Science”

Introduction: “Sweet Science”

(p.1) Introduction: “Sweet Science”
Sweet Science

Amanda Jo Goldstein

University of Chicago Press

Departing from the surprising allusion to De rerum natura hidden in Blake’s phrase “sweet Science,” this chapter introduces readers to the biological, philosophical, literary, and disciplinary histories necessary to the book’s argument by constellating a series of loaded examples: the tense collaboration between the Poet and the Man of Science in Wordsworth’s 1800 “Preface” to Lyrical Ballads, Herder’s claim that “our whole life is,” physiologically speaking, “poetics,” and Karl Marx’s early praise of Lucretius for depicting sensation as “embodied time.” Carefully reading the parts of De Rerum Natura to which Blake, Herder, Wordsworth, Goethe, Shelley and Coleridge point us, in dialogue with later modern interpreters (Auerbach, Althusser, Foucault, Latour, Butler), the introduction explicates three dimensions of Lucretian poetic materialism: the strange case the text extends for figuration as the basic action and passion of matter, the logic of associative emergence through which Lucretius accounts for life without recourse to teleological organicism, and the atomist imaginary that allowed Romantics to connect ontogeny to new experiences of social history. Expressly and by example, the introduction advances a critical method that understands interdisciplinarity as an artifact of its own historical position, taking pains to reconstitute the differently-ordered epistemological landscape of Romanticism.

Keywords:   empiricism, figuration, history of biology, Lucretius, materialism, organic form, poetry, Romanticism, sensation, vitalism

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