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The Politics of Romanticism

The Social Contract and Literature

Zoe Beenstock

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Redefines Romantic sociability through a reading of social contract theory

The Politics of Romanticism examines the relationship between two major traditions which have not been considered in conjunction: British Romanticism and social contract philosophy. She argues that an emerging political vocabulary was translated into a literary vocabulary in social contract theory, which shaped the literature of Romantic Britain, as well as German Idealism, the philosophical tradition through which Romanticism is more usually understood. Beenstock locates the Romantic movement’s coherence in contract theory’s definitive dilemma: the critical disruption of the individual and the social collective. By looking at the intersection of the social contract, Scottish Enlightenment philosophy, and canonical works of Romanticism and its political culture, her book provides an alternative to the model of retreat which has dominated accounts of Romanticism of the last century.

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About the Author

Zoe Beenstock is a lecturer at the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Haifa.


The Politics of Romanticism makes a compelling case for the significance of social contract theory as a tradition of philosophical and political thought, and is likely to become an important reference point for scholars of key Romantic writers

- Catherine Packham, University of Sussex

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