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Romantic Realities

Speculative Realism and British Romanticism

Evan Gottlieb

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Reads Romantic literature through the lens of 21st century speculative realist philosophy

Speculative realism is one of the most exciting, influential and controversial new branches of philosophy to emerge in recent years. Now, Evan Gottlieb shows that the speculative realism movement bears a striking resemblance to the ideas and beliefs of the best-known British poets of the Romantic era.

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Series Editor’s Preface


1. Wordsworth and Object-Oriented Philosophy

2. Coleridge, Nature-Philosophy and Process Ontology

3. Byron, Actor-Network-Theory and Truth Procedures

4. Shelley, Nihilism and Speculative Materialism

5. Keats, Vital Materialism and Flat Ontology



About the Author

Evan Gottlieb is Professor of English at Oregon State University. He is the author of Romantic Globalism: British Literature and Modern World Order (Ohio State UP, 2014), Walter Scott and Contemporary Theory (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Feeling British: Sympathy and National Identity in Scottish and English Writing 1707-1832 (Bucknell University Press, 2007). He is editor of Global Romanticism: Origins, Orientations, and Engagements, 1760-1820 (Bucknell UP, 2015) and a new Norton Critical Edition of Tobias Smollett's The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (2nd ed., WW Norton, 2015). He is co-editor, with Juliet Shields, of Representing Place in British Literature and Culture, 1660-1830: From Local to Global (Ashgate, 2013) and, with Ian Duncan, of Approaches to Teaching Scott’s Waverley Novels (MLA, 2009).


It was only a matter of time before literary criticism caught up with speculative realism. And, counter-intuitive as it may sound, Romanticism is an ideal starting place. Evan Gottlieb's fine study shows how these two phenomena are not separate; rather they entail one another, just as object-oriented ontology has been arguing. In so doing, he breaks out of the well-worn contextualization pathways along which recent scholarship on Romanticism has been traveling with all too much security. The Romantics would recognize themselves in Gottlieb's realist, magical mirror.

- Timothy Morton, Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English, Rice University

Evan Gottlieb’s Romantic Realities: Speculative Realism and British Romanticism unites a profound knowledge of speculative realist philosophy with major Romanticist texts.

- Talia Schaffer, Queen's College and The Graduate Center, CUNY, Studies in English Literature

Evan Gottlieb's Romantic Realities: Speculative Realism and British Romanticism is a timely revival for many reasons, not only because it intervenes in the critical conversation over what exactly 'Speculative Realism' is but also because it makes a case for what can be done with it in literary scholarship … What Gottlieb's book does brilliantly is suggest a new approach to thinking about Romanticism and other literary fields because it tackles – if not totally solves – the perplexing problem of how to uproot and then reorient the humanities from its own ideological moorings.

- Chris Washington, Francis Mariod University, Studies in Romanticism

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