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Romanticism and the Uses of Genre$
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David Duff

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572748

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572748.001.0001

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The Old Imperial Code

The Old Imperial Code

(p.24) 1 The Old Imperial Code
Romanticism and the Uses of Genre

David Duff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter revises accepted accounts of the relationship between neoclassical and Romantic poetics. It shows how the original premises and categories of neoclassicism, codified in Arts of Poetry such as Bysshe's and Gildon's, were modified in the light of the aesthetic theories of the Enlightenment to produce the eclectic genre-systems—part formalist, part cognitive—of works such as Hugh Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1783). It is these generic classifications and theories, rather than the narrower, rule-bound doctrines of earlier neoclassical critics, which confronted Romantic writers, whose polemics against the ‘old imperial code’ conceal significant continuities with these earlier positions. The chapter also studies the impact on genre theory of the cult of genius and the concept of the sublime, and shows how new critical ideas were reflected in the shifting organizational principles of poetic anthologies.

Keywords:   classical, neoclassical, classification, poetics, arts of poetry, Enlightenment, genius, formalist, cognitive, anthology

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