The Public Sphere of the Hunt Circle in Early Nineteenth-Century Politics and Culture
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This dissertation examines the Hunt circle's public activities and its historical significance in terms of public-sphere theory proposed by Jurgen Harbermas. Recent studies on Romantic literature have attended to how Romantic writers' literary practices were conditioned upon their contemporary history, as opposed to the traditional notion of Romanticism based on an affirmation of individual creativity. Although these studies meaningfully highlight the historicity inherent in seemingly individualistic Romantic texts, they have frequently failed to assess the way in which this historicity of Romantic texts is connected to Romantic writers' own will to engage with public issues by placing too much emphasis on how history determines individuals' activities. In this sense, the notion of public sphere offers a productive theoretical framework by which to read the historicity of Romantic literature without disavowing an individual writer's role in historical proceedings, since it underscores a historical process in which a communal interaction between individuals constitutes a progress of history. By focusing on this significance of public-sphere theory, this dissertation suggests that the Hunt circle, whose members' communal literary practices were aimed at achieving the public good in the tumultuous post-Napoleonic era, serves as a model of this process-based historical theorization. Chapter I examines the significance of public-sphere theory in assessing how the Hunt circle engaged in its contemporary history. Chapter II elucidates the nature of the public sphere that Leigh Hunt's and his circle's activities created and discusses the problems that this public sphere faced in the historical context of the early nineteenth century. Chapter III shows how the Hunt circle exposed a sense of anxiety and instability in the face of the commercialized literary public sphere by examining John Keats's literary practices. Chapter IV highlights Percy Bysshe Shelley's public ideal which aimed for a unified and inclusive public sphere beyond class boundaries and traces how this ideal was frustrated in the ensuing historical proceedings. Chapter V deals with the final phase of the Hunt circle and its disintegration by observing the ways in which Mary Shelley memorialized the Hunt circle for the feminized reading public of the Victorian period. By illuminating the nature of the Hunt circle's activities for the public, this dissertation ultimately aims to reassess how literary intellectuals in the Romantic period struggled to sustain the traditional calling of men of letters in their contemporary public sphere.
Subjectthe Hunt circle
the historicity of Romantic literature
Min, Byoung Chun (2010). The Public Sphere of the Hunt Circle in Early Nineteenth-Century Politics and Culture. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from