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November 5, 2013
9781421410890
9781421410883
English
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v2.1 Reference
Hardback
November 12, 2013
9781421410883
English
320
131304
2
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6.00 Inches (US)
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$58.00 USD, £43.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Experimental Life

Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature

If the objective of the Romantic movement was nothing less than to redefine the meaning of life itself, what role did experiments play in this movement? While earlier scholarship has established both the importance of science generally and vitalism specifically, with regard to Romanticism no study has investigated what it meant for artists to experiment and how those experiments related to their interest in the concept of life.

Experimental Life draws on approaches and ideas from contemporary science studies, proposing the concept of experimental vitalism to show both how Romantic authors appropriated the concept of experimentation from the sciences and the impact of their appropriation on post-Romantic concepts of literature and art.

Robert Mitchell navigates complex conceptual arenas such as network theory, gift exchange, paranoia, and biomedia and introduces new concepts, such as cryptogamia, chylopoietic discourse, trance-plantation, and the poetics of suspension. As a result, Experimental Life is a wide-ranging summation and extension of the current state of literary studies, the history of science, cultural critique, and theory.

About the Author

Robert Mitchell is a professor of English and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory at Duke University. He is author of Sympathy and the State in the Romantic Era: Systems, State Finance, and the Shadows of Futurity.

Endorsements

A superb and outstandingly researched study.

- Denise Gigante, Stanford University

Reviews

Theoretically informed and inventive, Experimental Life is one of those good books that links the concerns of Romantic scholars to broader discussions in the arts and sciences.

- Adela Pinch - Studies in English Literature

In addition to its compelling history of experimentation in art and science, Experimental Life also marks many before unapprehended relations among different sectors of Romantic studies, and will no doubt generate a good deal of further experiments with Romantic literature and science-which, as Mitchell proposes, is what marks any experiment's real success.

- Studies in Romanticism

Mitchell's book displays wide erudition and an ambitious interdisciplinary agenda.

- Modern Language Quarterly
Johns Hopkins University Press
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320 Pages
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