Beyond Sense and Sensibility

Beyond Sense and Sensibility
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Moral Formation and the Literary Imagination from Johnson to Wordsworth
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Peggy Thompson
Transits: Literature, Thought & Culture, 1650–1850
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Drawing on philosophical thought from the eighteenth century as well as conceptual frameworks developed in the twenty-first century, the essays in Beyond Sense and Sensibility examine moral formation as represented in or implicitly produced by literary works of late eighteenth-century British authors.
During the last half of the eighteenth century, sensibility and its less celebrated corollary sense were subject to constant variation, critique, and contestation in ways that raise profound questions about the formation of moral identities and communities. Beyond Sense and Sensibility addresses those questions. What authority does reason retain as a moral faculty in an age of sensibility? How reliable or desirable is feeling as a moral guide or a test of character? How does such a focus contribute to moral isolation and elitism or, conversely, social connectedness and inclusion? How can we distinguish between that connectedness and a disciplinary socialization? How do insensible processes contribute to our moral formation and action? What alternatives lie beyond the anthropomorphism implied by sense and sensibility?

Drawing extensively on philosophical thought from the eighteenth century as well as conceptual frameworks developed in the twenty-first century, this volume of essays examines moral formation represented in or implicitly produced by a range of texts, including Boswell’s literary criticism, Fergusson’s poetry, Burney’s novels, Doddridge’s biography, Smollett’s novels, Charlotte Smith’s children’s books, Johnson’s essays, Gibbon’s history, and Wordsworth’s poetry. The distinctive conceptual and textual breadth of Beyond Sense and Sensibility yields a rich reassessment and augmentation of the two perspectives summarized by the terms sense and sensibility in later eighteenth-century Britain.
List of Illustrations

Foreword: In Memoriam O M Brack, Jr. (1938-2012)

Timothy Erwin



Part I Revisiting Sensibility

Chapter One: Boswell and the Limits of Sensibility

Adam Rounce

Chapter Two: “Beshrew the sombre pencil!”: Robert Fergusson and Sensibility in Scotland

Rhona Brown

Chapter Three: Pictures of Women in Frances Burney’s Cecilia and Camilla: How Cecilia Looks and What Camilla Sees

Heather King

Part II Rethinking Didacticism

Chapter Four: Artful Instruction: Philip Doddridge’s Life of Colonel James Gardiner

Christopher D. Johnson

Chapter Five: Two Singularly Moral Works: Fenelon’s The Adventure of Telemachus and Smollett’s The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Leslie A. Chilton

Chapter Six: The Politically Engaged Child: Charlotte Smith’s Children’s Literature and the Discourse of Sensibility

Adrianne Wadewitz

Part III Reframing the Questions

Chapter Seven: Habit and Reason in Samuel Johnson’s Rambler

Peggy Thompson

Chapter Eight: Unfelt Affect

James Noggle

Chapter Nine: Seeing into the Life of Things: Re-Viewing Early Wordsworth through Object-Oriented Philosophy

Evan Gottlieb

Works Cited


About the Contributors

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