Changing the Cultural Paradigm: The Royal Society, Vesuvius and the Rise of English Romanticism
Contributing to the latest scholarly debate on the nineteenth-century history of travel and of ideas, this paper will show how the Royal Society and the Fellows’ scientific representations of Vesuvius favoured the rise of Romanticism in England. Close attention will be paid in particular to the letters which they addressed to the Society’s scientific journal, “Philosophical Transactions,” in the 1760s-1830s. As the product of a concept of knowledge which harmonically included science and the humanities, the early issues contributed to the theorisation of the sublime: it was at the beginning of 1800 that newly founded disciplines like geology and volcanology became irresistible sources of poetic inspiration, which radically changed the cultural paradigm of modern Britain. Divided into two main sections which follow a clear chronological order, this paper will thus put an emphasis on Vesuvius not only as one the most iconic destinations of the Grand Tour, but also as a Romantic “hyperobject” in science, poetry, and fiction. Its constitutional elements and destructive force provided new and fruitful opportunities of interchange in the Royal Society and the main intellectual circles, and also more importantly between Britain and Italy.
Manuela D'Amore, "Changing the Cultural Paradigm: The Royal Society, Vesuvius and the Rise of English Romanticism" in: "2023 / 28 Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, 2023, pp. 7-27