The Introduction reviews previous scholarship, arguing that anti-generic approaches which see a dissolution of genre and revisionist accounts which stress the Romantics' continued investment in genre both fail fully to capture the ambivalent place of genre in Romantic literary culture. Citing many examples of authorial ambivalence towards genre and of contradictory tendencies in the way genres themselves are used, it argues that these contradictory impulses are what define the period. Romanticism displays a hyperconsciousness about genre because the traditional genre-system is breaking down, old genres are being transformed, and new literary forms are emerging. This heightened awareness is in part a theoretical awareness, critical self-consciousness about genre being an aspect of what Paul Hamilton has termed ‘metaromanticism’, Romanticism's conceptualization of itself. The chapter explains the relationship between genre theory and practice in Romanticism, and introduces the German-British parallels which are a recurring theme of the book.
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