The futures in Futures of Enlightenment Poetry are not those of peoples or societies, but the soul. Keenly aware that a study of poetry about heaven and immortality may not appeal to contemporary secularist sensibilities, our culture of embodiment, or accepted philosophical-scientific physicalism, Stewart manages to shed light on the crucial roles of the afterlife in poets from John Milton to William Blake and Emily Dickinson. His book shows that poets toggle between drives to disembody the soul and to reembody it, or between what he calls a “spiritualist” and a “mortalist” poetics. This conceptual opposition is premised on Protestant theology's bifurcated doctrines of, on the one hand, an immortal soul's definitive separation from a body after death and, on the other, the resurrection of the body, which reunites a body with the soul at the end of time. Stewart, however, does not labor over querulous theologians’ discussions or interpret...
Futures of Enlightenment Poetry
Mary Helen McMurran teaches at the University of Western Ontario, where she specializes in eighteenth-century British literature. She is currently working on a monograph that explores the idea of embodied soul in seventeenth and eighteenth-century lyric poetry and philosophy. Her articles have appeared in ELH, Cambridge Critical Concepts, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and the Translator. She is also the author of The Spread of Novels: Translation and Prose Fiction in the Eighteenth Century (2009) and coeditor of Mind, Body, Motion, Matter (2016).
Mary Helen McMurran; Futures of Enlightenment Poetry. Genre 1 April 2022; 55 (1): 73–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-9720959
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