James Rovira

"Every thing that lives is holy…"

Chapter 2, Rock and Romanticism, Palgrave Macmillan

Chapter 2 of Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms: “‘Bliss was it in that shirt to be alive’: Connecting Romanticism and New Romanticism Through Dress” (pp. 45-59) by Emily Bernhard Jackson, Lecturer, University of Exeter. See the images discussed in this chapter on its own page.

  • Chapter summary
    • Skipping ahead about ten years after the Stones expressed sympathy for the devil, Emily Bernhard-Jackson’s “The Semiotics of the Ruffled Shirt: Connecting Romanticism and New Romanticism” shifts focus from linguistic content to visual surfaces in her comparison of the New Romantics of the early 1980s to English Romantics such as Byron. Rejecting the assumption that the New Romantics were glib and apolitical, she asserts their carefully managed, glittering surfaces were acts of subversion within Thatcher’s England, and these rock stars’ androgyny and even specific fashion choices—such as the ruffled shirt—carefully and not just coincidentally parallel second generation English Romantics such as Byron. Fluidity of sexual identity served the purpose of resisting full industrialization during 1980s’ England in a way parallel to the poets’ resistance of incipient industrialism in Romantic England, making dandyism and glitter statements against the brutal grayness of the working-class employment described by Löwy and Sayre, a very observable “mechanized conquest of the environment” under industrialization.
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