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Grant number like: FA-56408-12

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Richard Chih-Tung Sha
American University (Washington, DC 20016-8200)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2012 – 4/30/2013

Imagining the Imagination: Science and British Romanticism, 1750-1832

The imagination was without question the fundamental term for Romantic writers. This book project builds upon my previous study of the interconnections between science and sexuality in Romanticism, and is the first to situate the imagination in the contexts of the relevant sciences of the period: physiology, neurology, chemistry and physics, midwifery, and psychology. These scientific contexts were not only well-known to British Romantic poets, but also undermine the historicist claim that the imagination evaded the real. I seek to understand why, given that the imagination was relentlessly linked to disease and madness, Romantic writers such as Blake, Coleridge, Hazlitt, the Shelleys, and Wordsworth turned to it for its capacity to enable social change. William Lawrence, Percy Shelley's doctor, for instance, advised him that his heated imagination was the source of his disease.