Michael West

Michael West is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of more than fifty articles on subjects ranging from Homer to Joyce. He has a particular interest in the Classical tradition, comedy, and satire.

Listed in: Literary Criticism · American Literature · Literary Studies




Transcendental Wordplay · America’s Romantic Punsters and the Search for the Language of Nature
By Michael West

Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, America was captivated by a muddled notion of “etymology.” New England Transcendentalism was only one outcropping of a nationwide movement in which schoolmasters across small-town America taught students the roots of words in ways that dramatized religious issues and sparked wordplay. Shaped by this ferment, our major romantic authors shared the sensibility that Friedrich Schlegel linked to punning and christened “romantic irony.”