Keats’s Negative Capability

New Origins and Afterlives

Edited by Brian Rejack and Michael Theune

- +

ISBN: 9781786941817

Publication: March 31, 2019

Series: Romantic Reconfigurations: Studies in Literature and Culture 1780-1850 6

In late December 1817, when attempting to name “what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature,” John Keats coined the term “negative capability,” which he glossed as “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.” Since then negative capability has continued to shape assessments of and responses to Keats’s work, while also surfacing in other contexts ranging from contemporary poetry to punk rock. The essays collected in this volume, taken as a whole, account for some of the history of negative capability, and propose new models and directions for its future in scholarly and popular discourse. The book does not propose a particular understanding of negative capability from among the many options (radical empathy, annihilation of self, philosophical skepticism, celebration of ambiguity) as the final word on the topic; rather, the book accounts for the multidimensionality of negative capability. Essays treat negative capability’s relation to topics including the Christmas pantomime, psychoanalysis, Zen Buddhism, nineteenth-century medicine, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Describing the “poetical Character” Keats notes that “it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated.” This book, too, revels in such multiplicity.

Brian Rejack is Associate Professor of English at Illinois State University.

Michael Theune is Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Preface - Nicholas Roe
Introduction. Disquisitions: Reading Negative Capability, 1817–2017 - Brian Rejack and Michael Theune
Part I. ‘swelling into reality’: New Contexts for Negative Capability
 Keats’s Negative Capability: On Pantomime and ‘Irritable Reaching’ - Brian Bates
 John Keats’s Jeffrey’s ‘Negative Capability’; or, Accidentally Undermining Keats - Brian Rejack
 Keats’s ‘Negative Capability’ and Hazlitt’s ‘Natural Capacity’ - Michael Theune
 ‘that strong excepted soul’: Nineteenth-Century Women Read Keats - Carmen Faye Mathes
Part II. ‘examplified throughout’: Forms of Negatively Capable Reading’
 Negatively Capable Reading - Cassandra Falke
 Knowledge’s ‘gordian shape’: Keats and the Disciplines - Kurtis Hessel
 ‘Irritable Reaching’ and the Conditions of Romantic Mediation - Jeanne Britton
 ‘uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts’: Pluralities and the Historical Present in Keats and Hazlitt - Emily Rohrbach
Part III. ‘pursued through Volumes’, Volume I: Negative Capability in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century American Poetry
 Beyond the Great Divide: Negative Capability and Postwar American Poetics - Robert Archambeau
 Versions of Negative Capability in Modern American Poetry and Criticism - Eric Eisner
 ‘giddily off into the unknown’: Negative Capability and Naturalism in Elizabeth Bishop’s Poetics - Arsevi Seyran
 ‘Darkling I listen’: Jorie Graham and Negative Capability - Thomas Gardner
Part IV. ‘pursued through Volumes’, Volume II: Adaptations, Appropriations, Mutations
 Negative Capability in the Twenty-First Century and Romantic Self Annihilation in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials - Suzanne L. Barnett
 Negative Capability in Psychoanalysis: Keats and Retroactive Judgment in Bion, Freud, Lacan, and Milner - David Sigler
 Zen and the Art of Negative Capability - Anne C. McCarthy
 Negative Capability in Dialogic Context - Walter L. Reed
Afterword: Reading Keats’s Negative Capability - Jonathan Mulrooney

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

304 Pages

11 B&W illustrations

ISBN: 9781786941817

Publication: March 31, 2019

Series: Romantic Reconfigurations: Studies in Literature and Culture 1780-1850 6

Related products

Scroll to top