Amanda Jo Goldstein

Associate Professor

I specialize in Enlightenment and Romantic literature and science, with particular interests in rhetoric and poetics, pre-Darwinian biology, and materialist theories of history, poetry, and nature. My first book, Sweet Science: Romantic Materialism and the New Logics of Life (University of Chicago Press, 2017), shows how writers from William Blake to Goethe, Percy Shelley and the young Karl Marx revived ancient atomist science to argue for poetry as a privileged technique of empirical inquiry, especially when it came to representing the new problem of biological life in its dependency upon broader social and natural histories. The book has been awarded the Kenshur Prize for an outstanding monograph of interest to eighteenth-century scholars and the MLA Prize for a First Book (2018). A new research project takes up the ecology of utopia in the early socialist projects dubbed “Romantic” and “Utopian”; another seeks the poetic and scientific roots of the “new” concepts of biosemiosis and plasticity in the long history of epigenetic neuroscience.

Before joining the Berkeley faculty, I worked as an assistant professor of English at Cornell University (2012-17) and a postdoctoral fellow in Biopolitics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011-12). I received my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (English, German, French) from U.C. Berkeley in 2011.

I teach undergraduate courses such as “Romanticism and the Culture of Experiment,” “Age of Revolution: U.S./France/Haiti,” “The Lunar Society: Science, Poetry, and the Politics of Enlightenment,” and "The Ecology of Utopia." Graduate seminars include "Radical Enlightenment?,"  “Materialisms,” and “Romanticism and the Life of Things.”

Current Research: 

Utopian Ecologies

Nerve Poetry and Fiber Art 


Selected Publications

"The Seasons of Romanticism," Keats-Shelley Journal, forthcoming. Special Issue on "England in 1819 in 2019."

"Utopian Pastoral and The Inhuman Trade," Romantic Circles/PRAXIS, forthcoming. Special Issue on "Political Ecology," ed. Kir Kuiken.

"Attracting the Earth: Climate Justice for Charles Fourier," diacritics 47.3 (2019). Special Issue on "Terraforming," eds. Karen Pinkus and Derek Woods, pp. 74-105. 

"Nerve Poetry and Fiber Art: Biosemiosis and Plasticity in Erasmus Darwin," Literature Compass 17.3-4 (2020), pp. 1-23. 

“William Blake and the Time of Ontogeny,” in Systems of Life: Economics, Politics, and the Biological Sciences 1750-1850, eds. Warren Montag and Richard Barney, (Fordham UP, 2018).

"Epigenesis by Experience: Romantic Empiricism and Non-Kantian Biology," History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40.13 (2017).

“Reluctant Ecology in Blake and Arendt: A Response to Robert Mitchell and Richard Sha,” The Wordsworth Circle 46.3 (Summer 2015), special issue on “Experiment,” 143-155.

“Growing Old Together: Lucretian Materialism in Shelley’s ‘Poetry of Life,’” Representations 128.1 (Fall 2014), 60-92.

“Irritable Figures: Herder’s Poetic Empiricism,” in The Relevance of Romanticism: Essays in German Romantic Philosophy, ed. Dalia Nassar, (Oxford UP, 2014).

“Obsolescent Life: Goethe’s Journals on Morphology,” European Romantic Review 22.3 (2011), 405-14.


Wheeler Hall 462