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Orrin Wang

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Professor, English

(301) 405-3754

3240 Tawes Hall
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Research Expertise

Comparative Literature
Film Studies and Cultural Studies
Literary Theory
Romantic

Orrin Wang specializes in the study of both Romanticism and theory and is especially interested in how the two discourses converge. How that convergence speaks to the question of modernity is the focus of his first book, Fantastic Modernity: Dialectical Readings in Romanticism and Theory (Johns Hopkins UP, 1996). How that convergence is further expressed in Romantic and post-Romantic narratives of sensation and sobriety is the subject of his Romantic Sobriety: Sensation, Revolution, Commodification, History(Johns Hopkins UP, 2011), the winner of the 2011 Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize. Wang has written on such figures as P.B. Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, Wollstonecraft, Dacre, Kant, Derrida, and Zizek and also teaches and studies the gothic. His new project involves the possibility of non-dialectical forms of media in Romantic and post-Romantic writing--of the concept of media without the idea of mediation. Recent work that speaks to this project includes an exploration of the relation of theatricality and the politics of youth in Austen's Mansfield Park, Byron's Don Juan, and M. Shelley's Frankenstein; an application and critique of Ranciere's idea of the sentence image to the montage form of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner; and a meditation on the Romantic cliche in Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn."

Wang is also the Series Editor of the award winning Romantic Circles Praxis Series. For a transcript of the words he spoke at Marshall Grossman's memorial, click here.

Publications

"Chthonic Michael: Smithson, Levi-Strauss, Freud, Wordsworth,"

Chthonic Michael: Smithson, Levi-Strauss, Freud, Wordsworth, English Language Notes, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2016) 59-75.

English

Lead: Orrin Wang
Dates:
Orrin Wang specializes in the study of both Romanticism and theory and is especially interested in how the two discourses converge.

Romantic Sobriety: Sensation, Revolution, Commodification, History

A trenchant critique of the narratives of sobriety that, from the Romantic period itself to our own time, have tried to dampen Romanticism’s most powerful energies in the name of a greater maturity or enlightenment.

English

Lead: Orrin Wang
Dates:
Wang not only provides provocative readings of a range of literary texts but also makes an argument that will be hard to ignore for the continuing metatheoretical importance of Romanticism in the field of literature and knowledge more generally.

Romantic Sobriety: Sensation, Revolution, Commodification, History

This book explores the relationship among Romanticism, deconstruction, and Marxism by examining tropes of sensation and sobriety in a set of exemplary texts from Romantic literature and contemporary literary theory.

English

Lead: Orrin Wang
Dates:

This book explores the relationship among Romanticism, deconstruction, and Marxism by examining tropes of sensation and sobriety in a set of exemplary texts from Romantic literature and contemporary literary theory.

Orrin N. C. Wang explains how themes of sensation and sobriety, along with Marxist-related ideas of revolution and commodification, set the terms of narrative surrounding the history of Romanticism as a movement. The book is both polemical and critical, engaging in debates with modern thinkers such as Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Walter Benn Michaels, and Slavoj Žižek, as well as presenting fresh readings of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writers, including Wordsworth, Kant, Shelley, Byron, Brontë, and Keats.

Romantic Sobriety combines deeply complex, close readings with a broader reflection on Romanticism and its implications on literary study. It will interest scholars who study Romanticism from a number of perspectives, including those interested in bodily and social consumption, the roles of addiction and abstinence in literature, the connection between literary and visual culture, the intersection of critical theory and Romanticism, and the relationships among language, historical knowledge, and political practice.

Fantastic Modernity: Dialectical Readings in Romanticism and Theory

Focusing on the convergence of Romantic studies and literary theory over the past twenty-five years, Wang pairs a series of contemporary critics with Romantic writers in order to illuminate the work of both the contemporary theorist and earlier Romantic.

English

Lead: Orrin Wang
Dates:

Focusing on the convergence of Romantic studies and literary theory over the past twenty-five years, Wang pairs a series of contemporary critics with 'originary' Romantic writers in order to illuminate the work of both the contemporary theorist and earlier Romantic. Wang examines Paul de Man's deconstructive use of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Jerome McGann's Marxist-influence appropriation of Heinrich Heine, and Harold Bloom's pragmatic reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Through these examinations, along with commentary on Keats, Jameson, Lovejoy, and Spitzer, Fantastic Modernity attempts a series of new readings of both the theory being used by the various critics and the primary Romantic texts under consideration.

Fantastic Modernity: Dialectical Readings in Romanticism and Theory

Focusing on the convergence of Romantic studies and literary theory over the past twenty-five years.

English

Lead: Orrin Wang
Dates:
Whether discussing George Eliot’s lesbian readers, Anthony Trollope’s whorish heroines, or Charles Dickens’s masturbating characters, William A. Cohen’s study explodes the decorum of mainstream nineteenth-century fiction. By viewing this fiction alongside the most alarming public scandals of the day, Cohen exposes both the scandalousness of this literature and its sexiness. Scandal, then as now, makes public the secret indiscretions of prominent people, engrossing its audience in salacious details that violate the very code of propriety it aims to enforce. In narratives ranging from Great Expectations to the Boulton and Park sodomy scandal of 1870–71, from Eliot’s and Trollope’s novels about scandalous women to Oscar Wilde’s writing and his trials for homosexuality, Cohen shows how, in each instance, sexuality appears couched in coded terms. He identifies an assortment of cunning narrative techniques used to insinuate sex into Victorian writing, demonstrating that even as such narratives air the scandalous subject, they emphasize its unspeakable nature.