Yousef, Nancy

Yousef, Nancy

The Aesthetic Commonplace

The Aesthetic Commonplace is a study of the everyday as a region of overlooked value in the work of William Wordsworth, George Eliot, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The Romantic poet, the realist novelist, and the modern philosopher are each separately associated with a commitment to the common, the ordinary, and the everyday as a vital resource for reflection on language, on feeling, on ethical insight, and social attunement. The Aesthetic Commonplace is the first study to draw substantive lines of connection between Wittgenstein and the cultural and literary history of nineteenth century England. Tracing conceptual and formal affinities between the poet, the novelist, and the philosopher, the book brings to light significant links between the intellectual history of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth, making the case for a continuous cultural commitment to the aesthetic as a distinctive mode of investigating thought, feeling, and the everyday language upon which we depend for their articulation. Addressed to both literary studies and to philosophy, The Aesthetic Commonplace makes a compelling case for the interdependence of form, concept, and emotion in the history and interpretive practices of both disciplines.

Romantic Intimacy

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  • Author(s): Yousef, Nancy
  • Publisher / Date: Stanford University Press, 2013

Winner of the 2013 Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize, sponsored by the International Conference on Romanticism.

Winner of the 2014 Outstanding Academic Title Award, sponsored by Choice.

How much can we know about what other people are feeling and how much can we sympathize or empathize with them? The term "intimacy" captures a tension between a confidence in the possibility of shared experience and a competing belief that thoughts and feelings are irreducibly private. This book is an interdisciplinary study of shared feeling as imagined in eighteenth-century ethics, romantic literature, and twentieth-century psychoanalysis. Original interpretations of Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Austen show how mutual recognition gives way to the appreciation of varied, nonreciprocal forms of intimacy. The book concludes with accounts of empathy and unconscious communication in the psychoanalytic setting, revealing the persistence of romantic preoccupations in modernity. Yousef offers a compelling account of how philosophical confidence in sympathy is transformed by literary attention to uneven forms of emotional response, including gratitude, disappointment, distraction, and absorption. In its wide-ranging and eclectic engagement with current debates on the relationship between ethics, affect, and aesthetics, the book will be crucial reading for students of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century culture, as well as for literary theorists.