Theresa Kelley

Marjorie and Lorin Tiefenthaler Professor
6141 Helen C. White Hall
(608) 263-3824
E-mail Theresa Kelley
Romanticism--poetics, aesthetics, visual culture; history and philosophy of scientific practice

Degrees and Institutions

MA and PhD, Northwestern University, 1973 and 1977
BA University of Washington, 1965

Selected Publications

Recent Essays

  • “Romantic Frictions: Introduction.” Special Issue of Praxis. September 2011.
  • “Romantic Science.” Blackwell Companion to Romanticism. Ed. Julia Wright and Joel Faflak. Oxford: Blackwell, 2011.
  • “Romanticism’s Errant Allegory.” Cambridge Companion to Allegory. Ed. Rita Copeland and Peter Struck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 211-28.
  • “Adorno / Nature / Hegel.”  Language without Soil: Adorno and Late Philosophical Modernity. Ed. Gerhard Richter. N.Y.: Fordham University Press, 2009. 99-116 and 262-67.
  • “Restless Romantic Plants: Goethe Meets Hegel.” Special issue on “Romantic Diversity,” European Romantic Review 20:2 (2009): 187-195.
  • “Romantic Temporality, Contingency and Mary Shelley.”  ELH 75.3 (Fall 2008): 625-52.
  • “Reading Justice:  From Derrida to Shelley and Back.” Festschrift for Jacques Derrida. Ed. David Clark, Studies in Romanticism 46:3 (2007): 267-288.

Research Interests

Theresa M. Kelley writes about and teaches romanticism, aesthetics, visual culture, the philosophy and history of natural science, and contemporary narrative.  She understands these inquiries as they thread through literary forms and rhetoric in the literature of modernity.  The inquiries that she follows consider: forms of life and knowledge in modernity; autonomy and mastery as disciplinary and human inquiries; and relations between materiality, practice, and theory in scientific writing. She has written widely on these questions in articles and books, including Clandestine Marriage; Botany and Romantic Culture (forthcoming, Johns Hopkins, 2012), Reinventing Allegory (Cambridge, 1997), and Wordsworth’s Revisionary Aesthetics (Cambridge, 1988). She is at present working on the relation between materiality and its representation in word and image in romantic era scientific practice and theory; and a book on romantic futurity in post-Terror narratives and contemporary writing.

Together with other UW-Madison faculty colleagues and graduate students, Theresa Kelley works in the cross-disciplinary group Middle Modernity (1700-1910), which concerns itself with literary culture and knowledge practices during this long era in modern culture and thought.

Recent Books

  • Book Cover for "Clandestine Marriage"

    Clandestine Marriage: Botany and Romantic Culture

    Theresa Kelley

    The Johns Hopkins University Press


    Clandestine Marriage explores the meaning and methods of how plants were represented and reproduced in scientific, literary, artistic, and material cultures of the period. Theresa M. Kelley synthesizes romantic debates about taxonomy and morphology, the contemporary interest in books and magazines devoted to plant study and images, and writings by such authors as Mary Wollstonecraft and Anna Letitia Barbauld. 

  • Book Cover for "Reinventing Allegory"

    Reinventing Allegory

    Theresa Kelley

    Cambridge University Press


    Winner, Best Scholarly Book, South Central Modern Language Association (1998).

    Reinventing Allegory asks how and why allegory has survived as a literary mode from the late Renaissance to the postmodern present. By using a series of key historical moments to define the special character of modern allegory, this study offers an important framework for assessing allegory's role in contemporary literary culture.

  • Book Cover for "Romantic Women Writers"

    Romantic Women Writers: Voices and Countervoices

    Theresa Kelley & Paula Feldman, Eds.

    University Press of New England


    This collection of essays forges a new definition of Romanticism that includes the wide range of women's artistic expression.

  • Book Cover for "Wordsworth's Revisionary Aesthetics"

    Wordsworth's Revisionary Aesthetics

    Theresa Kelley

    Cambridge University Press


    This book offers a fresh understanding of the role of aesthetics in Wordsworth's major poetry and prose. Professor Kelley proposes aesthetic and geological precedents for this aesthetic model and evaluates its differences from the models developed by Burke, Kant and Hegel.