Romanticism and the Heritage of Rousseau

Synopsis

This new book by a leading scholar presents a timely and thorough-going critique of recent thinking on Romanticism. Beginning with the conviction that Rousseau may well have been the most important cultural figure of the last quarter millennium, Thomas McFarland confronts the misplaced emphases and serious misreadings of recent new historicist, post-structuralist, and feminist Romantic criticism. Using Rousseau as a guide and influence, McFarland looks at the work of six important scholars--including Jerome McGann, Marilyn Butler, and Paul deMan--and argues that the "new orthodoxy" is signally unable to perform the ultimate task of criticism: to discern quality . In its place, McFarland advocates attention to the "texture" of the cultural fabric of Romanticism, in order to restore our sense of what Romanticism is, and to allow us to hear again its distinctive voice.