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Amorous AestheticsIntellectual Love in Romantic Poetry and Poetics, 1788-1853$
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Seth T. Reno

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940834

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940834.001.0001

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Felicia Hemans and the Affections

Felicia Hemans and the Affections

(p.166) Chapter Four Felicia Hemans and the Affections
Amorous Aesthetics

Seth T. Reno

Liverpool University Press

Chapter four analyzes Hemans’s emphasis on love, gender, and ‘the affections’ throughout her career. The chapter begins by outlining the discourses of ‘the affections’ in eighteenth-century moral philosophy, showing how Hemans engages those discourses through her concurrent embrace and critique of the Romantic models of affect and emotion developed by Wordsworth and Shelley. Hemans moves from a hesitant embrace and celebration of earthly, domestic, and Christian love in her early poetry to a more radical, Romantic acknowledgement of an otherworldly, idealizing love in her later work. Yet unlike the poetry of Wordsworth, Shelley, and Clare, Hemans’s treatment of intellectual love is dominated by loss and melancholy. Her particular treatment of love and the affections sheds new light on the importance of gender in Romantic-era theories of affect. In contrast to her male counterparts, Hemans remains deeply skeptical about the social and political potentials of intellectual love. As she carries on the Romantic poetic tradition throughout the 1820s, Hemans serves as a catalyst for Victorian responses to intellectual love, to which I turn in the final chapter of the book.

Keywords:   Felicia Hemans, The Domestic Affections, Records of Woman, Songs of the Affections, William Wordsworth, Affections, Love

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