Romanticism and Gender

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Literature is shaped by cultural forces as well as individual imaginations; as Percy Bysshe Shelley put it (reversing the emphasis) in his Preface to Prometheus Unbound (1820), writers 'are in one sense the creators and in another the creations of their age'. This is true of the language of 'gender', the culturally generated, invested and disseminated values-political, social, psychological and emotional-attached to sexual identity and difference, and radiating from such words as 'masculine', 'feminine', 'manly' and 'effeminate'. Sexual identity, 'male' and 'female', is grounded in anatomy, while 'gender' is a socio-cultural product, a historically specific creation of the age. Critical attention to gender is not only a lively project today; gender criticism was also at work in the age of Romanticism, whose literature is one of its founding sites. Before turning to these sites, we need to define more specifically what gender criticism is today, and how it got there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to Romanticism
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781405165396
ISBN (Print)9780631198529
StatePublished - Feb 27 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • British romanticism
  • Gender criticism
  • Gender trouble
  • Literary market-place
  • Romantic-era


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