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Eighteenth-Century Lyric and the Enlightenment(s): Passions, Values, and Histories
ISECS, August 2003


Eighteenth-Century Lyric and the Enlightenment(s):  Passions, Values, and 
Histories

Steve Newman, Assistant Professor, Temple University


This session seeks to illuminate the roles played by eighteenth-century lyric in
the transformations that attend the Enlightenment.  Though often overlooked or
considered mere precursors to Romantic lyrics, eighteenth-century odes, elegies,
hymns, and secular songs during this era are intimately involved with at least
three of the Enlightenment's central elements--a new weight accorded to the
passions in epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics; a new relationship between elite
and popular texts; and a new preoccupation with historicity.

This first formation leads to questions such as:  What is the relationship between
the rise of sympathy and its cognates and the orientation of the lyric speaker to
his or her audience?  How might that orientation be itself informed by shifts in
gender roles and the author in an emergent literary marketplace?

The second:  If lyric is often understood as the speech of the individual set to
the collective voice implied by the song, then what are the boundaries of elite
lyric in relation to the songs heard on the street or in the enthusiastic strains
of the `low' Church?

Finally:  How do new Enlightenment concepts of history alter the registers of time
within lyric or the theorization of lyric as archaic and/or contemporary?  As
domestic and/or exotic?  Though this proposal may be more likely to elicit papers
on English lyric, I would welcome participation from those working in other
languages and other traditions.

snewman@temple.edu