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By David Aram Kaiser

This bold and unique examine explores the connections among aesthetic conception and political thought from the period of Romanticism to the 20 th century. David Kaiser lines those principles via Schiller and Coleridge, Arnold, Mill and Ruskin, to Adorno and Habermas. He analyzes the issues that modern literary idea faces in trying to attach the cultured and political spheres, and means that we reconsider the cultured sphere with a view to regain that connection.

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Extra resources for Romanticism, Aesthetics, and Nationalism

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In their view, neither the individual citizens nor the states, considered either politically or culturally, had yet achieved proper rationality and thus complete identity. Both were still considered to be works in progress.             Cultural nationalism has no problems defining the ideal relationship between culture and the state, but liberalism does. As I have shown, according to the theory of cultural nationalism all aspects of culture are or should be part of a common culture, which, by definition, provides the basis of unity for the nation.

Indeed for most of the twentieth century these two words have been seen as converging, as evidenced by the standard political hybrid term, the nation-state. But they have distinct political logics that were felt and Modernity, subjectivity, liberalism, and nationalism  understood by those contemporary theorists who sought to reconcile their oppositions.  The first type of theory regards forms of government as ‘‘wholly an affair of invention and contrivance’’: ‘‘Being made by man, it is assumed that man has the choice either to make them or not, and how or on what pattern they shall be made’’ (RG, ).

Similarly, while Arnold calls for the ‘‘sweetness and light’’ he associates with the free play of reason, he tends to find that the best expressions of reason are already embodied in traditional forms and establishments. And while Ruskin is the most radical in his criticism of contemporary political economy, he looks to the hierarchies of the past, not the mass democracies of the future, for his vision of the proper state.                    The period from the late eighteenth century through the middle of the nineteenth is the time of the development of modern conceptions and structures of the liberal state and the cultural nation.

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