Talk (University of Westminster): Examining Coleridge’s Bulls: Humour, Fancy & the Political Imagination

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English Literature and Cultural Studies Research Seminars
University of Westminster
Room 201, 309 Regent Street, London
All welcome, external guests please RSVP to Frankie Hines (frankie.hines@my.westminster.ac.uk)
‘He’ll regret it till his dying day, if ever he lives that long’.
The English Romantic S. T. Coleridge defined the bull, a type of humorous utterance, as ‘a mental juxtaposition of incongruous ideas with the sensation, but without the sense, of connection’. Coleridge repeatedly returns to this linguistic form in his notebooks and published writings between 1801 and 1817, with the bull coming to acquire a profound, albeit ambiguous, place within the aesthetics, philosophy and psychology of Coleridge’s attempts to define Romanticism, specifically in relation to his distinction between fancy/imagination and allegory/symbol. Drawing on later, modernist criticism of the false opposition between allegory and symbol, this talk proposes a comparable reconsideration of the devaluation of fancy in Coleridge’s broader ‘politics of the imagination’ and so a re-evaluation of the bull’s humour.

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