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  • Meanwhile Romanticism / Romanticism Meanwhile
  • Maureen N. McLane (bio)

I remember romanticism.

I remember romanticisms.

I remember that some years ago Jerome Christensen launched an article, "The Romantic Movement at the End of History," thus:"I profess romanticism, I romantically confess."1

I remember the End of History.

I remember modernity.

I remember the Modern Language Association.

Whether "romanticism" as a period category has or should have [End Page 142] a future, whether "romanticism" as a genealogical category has or should have a future, well—

I remember: "[O]ne comes behind/Who aye the future to the past will bind—/Necessity"! (Shelley, Laon and Cythna, IX, xxvii).

I remember the ruse of necessitarianism.

I remember that Shelley's revolutionary heroine Cythna salutes "The future, a broad sunrise" (IX, xxv).

Yet I remember that his despairing revolutionaries also invoke "the homeless future's wintry grove" (IX, xx).

I remember the revolution.

I remember several revolutions.

I remember that I remember the End of History.

I remember the End of the Future.

I remember Bruno Latour: "The French language, for once richer than English, differentiates 'le Futur' from 'l'avenir.' In French, I could say that the Moderns had 'un futur' but never 'un avenir.'" (486).2

I remember Four Futures: Life After Capitalism, by Peter Frase. I remember Lee Edelman calling stringently for "NO FUTURE." I remember Julia Jarcho quoting Jose Muñoz's rebuttal: "The present is not enough. It is impoverished and toxic."

I remember Latour's "Compositionist Manifesto": "instead of a future of no future, why not try to see if we could not have a prospect at last?" (487).

I remember Gertrude Stein: "Not to the future but to the fuchsia!"


"Inasmuch as we read and are remade in reading and writing and conversation and disputation, in reflection and/or action, we profess the future; or rather, we are possessed toward a future—we become an immanent host to ([not only] past) writing, a potential host to a possible virus: romanticism."

So I wrote pre-Covid.

Toward what, toward whom, do we (not) wish to be hospitable? To be hosts? Beyond choice, beyond reason, beyond possession, toward and through our permeabilities, differential vulnerabilities—

Inasmuch as I am read by romantics, and romantics read me, I profess [End Page 143] romanticism, and I profess the future as the now. And I profess "the past" as the now.

Any of us might be romanticism's future, romanticism's now. True or False.

And also we (some of us) might be living fossils.

The coelacanth is quite a fish.


The productive multiplicity and recalcitrance of romanticism/s are ongoing resources and provocations, for us as students, teachers, thinkers, romanticists, romantics, anti-romantics, human, anti/post/antehuman, enmeshed, unmeshed.

"Romanticism" is also/simultaneously at times a blockage. An enclosure.

And so:


In Futurity I prophetic see!

I remember remembering romanticism.

I remember that Anahid Nersessian reanimated Northrop Frye's meditations on "Rcsm" in his notebooks.3 I remember too her noting that "rcsm" is a consonantal reduction of "racism" as well as "romanticism."

There is an Oman in romanticism. A mantic omen. A schism, a prism, a cataclysm.

There is an antic cis man who roams romanticism. And there is trans in romanticism.

There is a man in romanticism. And Man.

"My quietness has a man in it, he is transparent / and he carries me quietly, like a gondola, through the streets" (Frank O'Hara).

My quietness has a woman in it.

My romanticism has rcsm in it.


Collective writing.

Anonymous writing.

Brilliantly singular yet always already social reading/writing/talking. [End Page 144]

Forensic listening.

Counternarratives (John Keene). Mere noticing (Basho, Barthes). Not knowing/nescience (Keats, Nersessian).

Eve Sedgwick: Pluralize and specify.


A newly conceived utilitarianism: see e.g. Frances Ferguson.4

A new/productive anachronism: see e.g. Margreta de Grazia on "the fear of anachronism," Carolyn Dinshaw, How Soon is Now? (2012).

A conjunctural logic of inquiry, e.g. Spinozan, Benjaminian, Priestsleyan (see e.g. Marjorie Levinson, Lenora Hanson5).

A pedagogical art/art of pedagogy: see e.g. Audre Lorde's pedagogy; reconsider e.g. Fredric Jameson's reflections on Luk...


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