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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explains that the movement that eventually came to be known as Romanticism had its origins in politicized canon-formation. A particular literary taste was developed by Whig writers as a reflection of commercial, Protestant, and constitutional values that was focused on the sublime, originality and creativity, the power of the imagination, and anti-classicism. These ‘cultures of Whiggism’ became increasingly influential and blossomed in the 1760s—most notably in the work of literary forgers such as Macpherson and Chatterton—by which time they had combined with equally political eighteenth-century reactions to the medieval past, most powerfully expressed through the cultural movement of the Gothic. Gothicism provided the new aesthetics with a progressive model of history and national identity, as well as with a lexicon of supernatural imagery. Ironically, then, Romanticism was a consequence of the literary agenda of establishment party politics.

Keywords: antiquarian, literary history, national poetry, politics, Whig, forgery, Gothic, canon

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