Romanticism and the Rise of English

Synopsis

Named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2009

Romanticism and the Rise of English addresses a peculiar development in contemporary literary criticism: the disappearance of the history of the English language as a relevant topic. Elfenbein argues for a return not to older modes of criticism, but to questions about the relation between literature and language that have vanished from contemporary investigation. His book is an example of a kind of work that has often been called for but rarely realized- a social philology that takes seriously the formal and institutional forces shaping the production of English. This results not only in a history of English, but also in a recovery of major events shaping English studies as a coherent discipline. This book points to new directions in literary criticism by arguing for the need to reconceptualize authorial agency in light of a broadened understanding of linguistic history.