Category Archives: Calls for Papers

Call for Bloggers, 2016–2017

Hello, Romanticists

As is traditional at this time of year, we are looking for bloggers to write for the NASSR Graduate Caucus blog!

Bloggers are asked to commit to contributing one post per month on a topic of their choice for the duration of the academic year, September to April.

If you’re interested in blogging, please email Caroline Winter, the Managing Editor, at, with a short statement of interest by Tuesday, September 27.



New Romantic CFPs!

Dear Readers,

We at the NGSC hope you are enjoying a pleasant and productive semester! A whole range of exciting calls for papers has just been announced for Spring and Summer 2016 — many of which celebrate Romantic bicentennials. Here’s a brief taste of some of what’s ahead — and which deadlines to note down. Enjoy!

JOHN KEATS: 3rd Bicentennial Conference
May 20-22, 2016
Keats House, Hampstead

Full CFP to come!

A Bicentennial Celebration of her Life and Works
May 13-14, 2016
Chawton House Library, Chawton, Hampshire. Continue reading New Romantic CFPs!

Call for Bloggers, 2015-2016

It’s that time of year again — we are looking for new bloggers to write for the NASSR Graduate Student Caucus Blog in 2015-2016!

Bloggers must commit to one post per month throughout the academic year. Posts can range from in-depth scholarly inquiries, to book reviews, interviews with faculty, and reports on conferences, to humorous quips and original creative work, whether artistic or literary: all are welcome.

To apply, please email the Managing Editor, Arden Hegele, with a CV and a short statement of interest, by Monday, September 7th. Applicants will be notified by September 15th.

Reminder: NASSR 2015 Essay Prize

Dear all,

This year’s NASSR Conference organizers would like me to remind you of the graduate student prize for papers presented at the conference. The details are copied below, from the Conference website:

NASSR 2015 Graduate Student Prizes
Co-sponsored by NASSR and European Romantic Review
Each year NASSR conference organizers offer prizes for graduate student papers presented at their conference.  To be eligible, you must be a graduate student in good standing at the time of the conference.  Please submit an electronic copy of your completed conference paper with a 100 word abstract to the conference organizers at by July 15, 2015.  The paper chosen as Best Graduate Student Paper will be published in the conference issue of European Romantic Review.  Results of the contest will be announced at the conference banquet.

Jacob, Caucus Co-Chair

Proposing a Special Session for MLA

Last week, I submitted a panel proposal for the next MLA convention in January 2016. (alternative title for this post: What was I thinking?!?)

I was motivated, in part, by an important realization about my own position on the academic career ladder:

There comes a time in every young scholar’s life when she must realize that she is no longer part of the junior graduate cohort. Suddenly there are an uncountable number of faces that you don’t recognize around the department, and conversations being held about seminars you didn’t even know were being offered. This signals only one thing: you’re now horrifyingly closer in position to that new assistant professor who just got hired than you are to the first-year doctoral students. You are more scholar than student, more faculty than freshman. (When did this happen, exactly?!)

Continue reading Proposing a Special Session for MLA

More Romantic CFPs!

MMLA (Columbus, OH, Nov. 12-15):

“Intersections of Art and Science in the Long Nineteenth Century”:

We welcome papers that explore the intersection of “art” and “science” in the long nineteenth century. From Keats’s enigmatic intonation “beauty is truth, truth beauty,” to Ruskin’s declaration that “high art differs from low art in possessing an excess of beauty in addition to its truth, not in possessing excess of beauty inconsistent with truth,” to the aestheticism of the fin de siècle, the nineteenth century witnessed a fraught renegotiation of the relationships between knowledge, art, and science. We are interested in papers treating artistic representations, practices, and engagements with the empirical sciences, and in the epistemological shifts that constructed “art” as both distinct from, and linked to, “science.”

250-word abstracts by April 5th to Andrew Welch at

To feature your conference proposal on the NGSC Blog, please write to the Managing Editor.

New CFPs: MLA 2016

Dear Romantic readers: Here are some calls for papers that might interest you for MLA 2016 (Austin). If you have a CFP you’d like to promote, please write to me and I’ll add it to our list!

Performing Romanticism(s)

Special Session
Papers addressing how literary scholars can use performance–the stage, lectern, classroom, and other non-traditional scholarly practices–to reconsider issues pertaining to Romantic-era drama, poetry, and prose. 250-word abstracts and brief bio by 10 March 2015; Omar F. Miranda ( and Randall Sessler (

Ineffectual Lyric

Special Session
Auden claimed “poetry makes nothing happen.” How does lyric aim for political effects, and fail? How does lyric cope with its ineffectuality? Is the ineffectual the apolitical? 250-word abstract; c.v. by 10 March 2015; Daniel Wright (

After John Clare

The John Clare Society of North America invites proposals for its panel at the Modern Language Association Convention in Austin, Texas, January 7-10th, 2016.

TOPIC: “After John Clare.” Scholarship on any aspect of Clare’s influence on 19th, 20th, or 21st century poets and/or his poetry’s continuing relevance to the field of lyric studies. Abstract and brief bio by 15 March 2014 to Erica McAlpine at

Family, Kinship & Identity in British Literature, 1750-1900

Special Session
How do eighteenth and nineteenth-century literary works portray the effects of kinship networks (family, marriage, siblings, parents) on individual characters/identities? 300-word abstract plus bio by 15 March 2015; Talia Vestri Croan (

General and Special Session CFPs – NASSR 2013: Romantic Movements (Aug. 8-11, Boston, MA)

ICR 2012 is now behind us and we can at once look forward to writing and gathering for NASSR 2013, “Romantic Movements,” to be graciously hosted by the College of the Holy Cross and Boston University, August 8-11. All abstracts are due by January 15, 2013. Below I have copied the general CFP as well as the Special Sessions CFPs at the very bottom of this post. If you have general conference questions, you may find the answers the conference website. Please send all proposals or direct questions to the conference organizers, Jonathan Mulrooney (Holy Cross) and Charles Rzepka (Boston University) at Good luck!

* * * * * *

NASSR 2013 invites submissions for its conference to be held on the banks of the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts August 8-11, 2013. While especially interested in proposals prompted by the conference theme “Romantic Movements,” broadly conceived, the committee also looks forward to considering sessions and papers on all topics representing the best current work in the field. This is to say that the conference theme should be considered suggestive, but not proscriptive. To that end, both “Romantic” and “Movements” should be considered terms under investigation, and might yield conversations about any aspect of such topics as Romantic motion, emotion, mobility, transport, affect, infrastructure, importation, exportation, flow, obstruction, freedom, restriction, progress, regression, ascent, decline, development, diminution, migration, travel, gesture, dance, location, dislocation, displacement, exile, temporality, personality, rising, falling, diversion, direction, misdirection, speculation, experimentation, currents, contagions, fronts, feints, faints, scatology, scansion, prosody, prose, and so on.

Sponsored by the College of the Holy Cross and Boston University, NASSR 2013 aims to open conversations not only about Romantic scholarship but about the relationship between scholarly work and how we teach Romanticism now. We encourage proposals addressing these concerns as they engage a wide range of British, Continental, American, and world Romanticisms.

The conference organizers are open to several forms of proposal:

  1. Traditional 15-minute paper proposals (250-word abstracts), either grouped together as 3-paper panels or submitted individually.
  2. Proposals for open-call special sessions (250-word descriptions of potential session).
  3. Proposals for alternative format sessions such as roundtable discussions, state-of-the-field debates, etc. (250-word description of topic and list of participants).

Deadline for open special session calls: October 15, 2012
Deadline for all other proposals: January 15, 2013

Please send all proposals or direct questions to the conference organizers, Jonathan Mulrooney (Holy Cross) and Charles Rzepka (Boston University) at

* * * * * *


Special Session CFPs

Please submit paper abstracts directly to the organizers listed for each session. Unless otherwise noted, abstracts should be 250 words for 15-minute papers. Session organizers will select the papers best suited to their purposes, and pass on the rest to the main conference committee for vetting. Deadline for submissions is January 15, 2013.

The Aesthetics of Trance (Kristin M. Girten, University of Nebraska, Omaha)

Trance states recur throughout Romantic literature as an indicator and source of psychological transport. What do such states of psychological suspension entail? Brandy Schillace characterizes the trance episodes that punctuate Ann Radcliffe’s gothic novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho, as symptomatic of epilepsy. In contrast, Robert Mitchell associates Shelley’s and Keats’s “trance poetics” with radical psychological as well as political emancipation. For the former scholar, the aesthetics of trance signifies neurological disability; for the latter, it portrays and even enables psychological triumph.

This session will explore the implications of, as well as the motivations behind, the aesthetics of trance and the transport it implies with the goal of broadening scholars’ understanding of the significance of suspended psychological states within the literature of Romanticism. The potential implications of the aesthetics of trance are many. Does it document a paralysis of the will? Or does it convey the possibility of the fulfillment of the will? Might it rather portray a dull sense of ennui? Perhaps it even inspires a state of psychological suspension in the reader? Panelists participating in the session will encourage a nuanced and varied appreciation of the aesthetics of trance by analyzing diverse appearances of it within the poetry and prose of Romanticism.

abstracts to:

Bodies in Space (Tom Crochunis, Shippensburg University)

This panel will focus on the ways in which bodily movement was performed, viewed, and
interpreted in the Romantic era in relation to particular significant spaces. Papers might focus on theatrical or other public performances, athletics, or other social/cultural performances in which bodies played an important role.

1-page abstracts of proposed presentations to Tom Crochunis at

John Thelwall’s Movements (Judith Thompason, Dalhousie University)
Special Session Sponsored by the John Thelwall Society

John Thelwall was a figure of romantic mobility. From the earliest eccentric excursions of this politico-sentimental Peripatetic to the political and elocutionary lecture tours, both national and international, that continued until the moment of his death, he covered a lot of ground geographically, culturally, philosophically and rhetorically, connecting disparate communities and shaping literary history in ways that scholars are only now beginning to understand. As Thelwall has moved from the margins to the centre of romantic studies in recent years, the John Thelwall Society has been founded to celebrate, study, collect the archive and encourage further exploration of the versatile voice and mind, arts and acts, of this remarkable romantic-era polymath.

To this end, we invite papers on any aspect of Thelwall’s movements, including his literal travels; representations of travel and territory in his work; his ideological and formal eccentricity and experimentation; his theories of measure and prosody; his elocutionary practice or pedagogy; his transnational tours, interests, activities and influence(s); his literary, political or professional connections; his relation to philosophical and critical movements in his own time (Jacobinism, Della Cruscanism, feminism, abolitionism, elocution), and in ours (including his movement from background to foreground in romantic studies). Presenters need not be members of the John Thelwall Society.

abstracts to:

Metrical Movements (Charles Mahoney, University of Connecticut)

To what degree might Romanticism be productively thought of as a matter of meter? What are the most representative as well as the most idiosyncratic meters of Romantic poetry? And how do these meters, these peculiar measurements, represent not only the ways in which Romantic poetry moves (to what ends?) but also Romanticism as a move-ment? Taking into consideration that meter names both idealized patterns (of sound, in verse) as well as the cultural and political associations of these patterns, this panel solicits contributions which reflect on the ways in which meter moves Romanticism—and patterns its movements.

abstracts to: 500-word abstracts to

Movements of Past and Present: Aesthetics and Genealogy (Magdalena Ostas, Boston

Tracing lines from the past to the present and through to the future, the writing of genealogy is a deeply evaluative and transformational gesture. Through it, the present becomes legible and meaningful to itself, and the backwards glance thus becomes a means of legitimating, interrogating, or undermining the orientation and situation of the present moment. Through genealogy, the present thus reveals itself to be essentially in movement and, like the past, always in transformation.

This panel seeks to articulate ways in which our own understanding of what is called “aesthetics” forms a genealogical line to or from Romanticism. What are the claims, contours, and stakes of Romantic aesthetic theory, and how do they come to be taken up, rethought, reevaluated, and reshaped throughout the nineteenth century and especially in our own critical climate? Papers for this special session are welcome that address the claims of Romantic aesthetics and the vexed, dynamic relations of those claims to the tenets and inclinations that structure the contemporary study of Romantic literature and philosophy.

abstracts to:

Moving Pictures (Sophie Thomas, Ryerson University)

From Wordsworth’s cave of Yordas, with its “shapes, and forms, and tendencies to shape, / That shift and vanish, change and interchange” (The Prelude 1805, 8:721-22), to Coleridge’s “The Picture,” with its dispersal of the beloved’s watery image, to Philipsthal’s Phantasmagoria shows, with their looming apparitions projected by mysterious means across darkened rooms, Romanticism is haunted by encounters with images that will not sit still. This special session seeks to explore, in broad terms, the mobilization of the visual in Romanticism. Topics could include: the development of visual technologies that literally made images move (the Eidophusikon, the Diorama, the moving panorama); the dissolving view; the science of vision and ‘techniques’ of observation; vision in motion, as might be experienced from a ship, a balloon, or by the roving eye of the picturesque tourist; moving among pictures at galleries and exhibitions; traveling picture shows; the moving images of the imagination; hallucination/ animation; natural forms and their movements.

abstracts to:

Moving Through the Passions in Romantic Women’s Writing (M. Soledad Caballero,
Allegheny College)

As Geoffrey Sills argues in his study of the passions and the rise of the British novel, something happens to the general understanding of “the passions” throughout the eighteenth century, such that an area considered relatively stable and consistent since the Classical age invites scrutiny, angst, and exploration from writers across the political and social spectrum. By the century’s end, the “passions” of social and political movements register across the literary landscape of the Romantic era. As discoveries in science and medicine emerged in the seventeenth century and informed philosophers and writers’ understandings and expectations of “the passions,” this area of human spiritual, political, and aesthetic experience shifts in the literary and cultural landscape of the Romantic age.

What the passions are, where they are located in human subjectivity, who experiences them, under what conditions, and the extent to which they are internally or externally made manifest ignites new interest regarding their place in the natural and social world. This panel seeks to explore the diversity of understanding around conceptualizations of “the passions” in Romantic women’s writing. How do conceptualizations of the passions move within texts and across texts written by women of the period? To what extent do figurations of the passions shift in relation to generic form, political affiliations, class status or racial configurations? To what extent are representations of the passions static or shifting across texts written by women?

abstracts to:

Nordic Exchanges: Transfers and Transactions (Robert Rix, University of Aalborg)

One of the best-known of romantic paintings was chosen as an emblem of this conference: Caspar David Friedrich’s The Sea of Ice (1823-4), depicting a frail wooden ship crushed by huge slabs of ice, piling up under a cold blue Northern sky. If this painting symbolizes the attraction the North had for European romantics, its very prominence in the canon also testifies to a critical perception that can be summarized in a few points: (1) Romanticism is rooted exclusively in the Bermuda Triangle of Germany, Britain and France, (2) the romanticisms of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland) are mainly derivative, (3) and their influence outside the Nordic region is negligible. The purpose of this workshop is to test – and perhaps contest – this hackneyed image. And whereas “romantic Orientalism” has received its fair share of critical interest, the Friedrich painting bespeaks a contemporary interest in the Northern themes and landscapes, which warrants attention.

We welcome papers on individual Nordic romantics, but even more so on interaction, exchange, and cross-fertilization between Nordic and other romanticisms. Furthermore, the workshop wishes to explore the image of the North (Nordic landscapes, climate, culture, history, folklore, and mythology) in the romantic imagination. Topics for papers could also include travel reports – real or imaginary – focussed on the North or the Nordic countries.

abstracts to:

Romantic Movements and Walter Scott’s Poetry (John Knox, University of South Carolina)

With the editing of Scott’s poetry now well underway, and in keeping with the conference theme, the panel invites proposals that explore Scott’s place in a larger Romantic “movement.” How, we might ask, has our neglect of Scott’s poetry shaped our understanding of Romantic poetry to this point, and, conversely, what kinds of critical moves will be required to include him? The panel is especially interested in proposals that focus on Scott’s early verse romances, although proposals that consider Scott’s poetry in relation to his novels or in relation to other Romantic poets are also welcome.

abstracts to:

Romantic Movement Space (Christoph Bode, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
Special Session sponsored by the German Society for English Romanticism (GER)

Note: Session is for the NASSR 2013 conference in Boston and not for the joint NASSR-GER Munich conference on “Romanticism and Knowledge” in October 2013.

This session welcomes proposals on how space is constituted through physical/imaginary/discursive movement. The emphasis should be on how subjective movement is not only used to map ‘objective’ space, but to actually evoke and construct a space that can no longer be seen as absolute, but is irreducibly dependent on (dis-)continuous flows of experience and discrete discursive acts – and therefore inevitably temporal.

abstracts to: (500 words, and brief vita)

Romantic Waste (Richard Sha, American University)

I propose a session on Romantic shit. On the one end, I hope for papers that take Zizek’s work on toilets as ideology seriously: what does the history of Romantic waste/filth say about Romantic ideology? Such work may consider the transition from chamber pots to sewers, or the ideology of the water closet. Such work might also consider Blake’s or Coleridge’s or the caricaturist Gillray’s ample bowels. On the other end, I aspire for papers taking Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit as the muse. Frankfurt argues that bullshitters are more of a threat to the truth than liars because while liars recognize the line between truth and falsehood, bullshitters are indifferent to that line. We know that Coleridge was a plagiarist, but what does it mean to think of him as a liar or bullshitter? This session asks, what kinds of truths can shit reveal? What are its cultural logics? In a nod to Christopher Rovee’s piece on Keats and trash, what is the cultural work of
trash? Papers might also address the legal and medical implications of shit: after all, dirt and filth became medicalized as the sources of contagion and disease during this period.

abstracts to:

Romanticism and Utopianism (Regina Hewitt, University of South Florida)
Special Session Sponsored by the European Romantic Review (ERR)

This session invites papers exploring the intersections of Romanticism with the Utopian
movements that surged during this period as Owenites and Rappites, Fourierists and Saint Simonians, evangelicals and revolutionaries, philosophers and poets envisioned new worlds. Papers might consider whether Romanticism is inherently Utopian, or they might challenge or reaffirm long-standing characterizations of some Romantic-era writers, such as Percy or Mary Shelley, as Utopian. They might analyze how movements away from “blueprint” Utopias in the theories of Lucy Sargisson, Ruth Levitas, or other present-day theorists affect our understanding of Romantic Utopianism. They might examine the gendered, nationalistic, or trans-, anti-, or post- nationalistic inflections of Romantic-era Utopian thought, or address the relationship between this era’s Utopian hopes and Dystopian fears.

abstracts to:

Romanticism’s Peace Movement (John Bugg, Fordham University)

“Peace is not an absence of war,” wrote Spinoza, “it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” This panel will proceed from Spinoza’s notion that peace is an active principle rather than a void characterizing periods between military conflict. The years between the storming of the Bastille and the defeat of Napoleon have traditionally been understood as a time of continual war, an era of violent bloodshed over issues of land, class, nation, and resources. But to view the Romantic era exclusively through the lens of war runs the risk of overlooking the significant reaching after peace that also characterizes the period, a process reflected in the unprecedented number of treaties produced at this time, from the Peace of Paris in 1783 to the London Straits Convention of 1841. Attempts to theorize, to imagine, and most importantly, to bring about peace, were significant if often overlooked forces in Romantic-era culture, a culture preoccupied not only with conflict but with conflict resolution.

abstracts to:

Romanticism, Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation (Joselyn Almeida-Beveridge, University
of Massachusetts, Amherst)

In this panel, we invite papers that extend existing scholarship on Romanticism and the Black Atlantic. Papers might address topics that include, but are not limited to literature and its relation to movements such as abolition and emancipation; tropes of anti-slavery; British Creoles; Black Cosmopolitanism; visual and material culture; gender and abolition; representations of race and enslavement; the circulation and reception of anti-slavery writers; resistance movements, uprisings, and revolts; anti-slavery leaders; colonialism and abolition; literary and material circuits between the geographies of enslavement, abolition, and emancipation.

abstracts to:

Romantic Translation / Transcreation (Daniel DeWispelare, George Washington University)

This panel seeks papers that investigate theories, controversies, and trajectories of translation as they were elaborated in relation to (and perhaps even as the preconditions of) Romantic writing. Proposals for papers addressing particularly prolific or influential translators (or, in a more radical recent formulation, transcreators) are also encouraged, for this panel will ideally become a forum for linking together developments as diverse as the transcreated poetry of Sir William Jones, Coleridge’s strange renderings of German epistemology, and the thinking of writers like Thomas De Quincey, who, toward the end of the period, tellingly remarked, “So it is with literatures of whatsoever land: unless crossed by some other of different breed, they all tend to superannuation.”

Potential starting points include but are by no means limited to translation and cultural tradition, translation and religious practice, translation and empire (both from theoretical and institutional perspectives), translation and philosophy, translation and dialect, and translation and transcreation. Ideally, the panel will approach translation from as many angles as possible, all the while keeping alive an interest in how translation practices might have created the very conditions of possibility for the Romantic-era social formations and aesthetic advances that we hold dear.

abstracts to:

Shelleyean Movements (Matthew Borushko, Stonehill College)

This special session aims to reexamine the place of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s writings in later aesthetic, political, and theoretical movements, broadly conceived, including – but not limited to – the Chartist movement, the Pre-Raphaelite movement, British socialist movements, the aestheticist movement, movements in Marxian theory and praxis, as well as any other reformist, radical, or anarchist movement that draws on Shelley’s thought.

abstracts to:

Textual Migrations (Michelle Levy, Simon Fraser University)

How did texts migrate between different media in the Romantic period, and how might these migration patterns be specific to Romanticism? This panel will provide an opportunity to share research that examines and theorizes the movement of texts across multiple media. We know that many texts moved in conventional directions – from oral to handwritten forms, and from manuscript to print – as they had for centuries – but what is historically specific about these movements during the period? While a great deal of writing was produced directly for print, a significant amount first circulated amongst domestic circles and coteries, either orally or in handwritten form: manuscript circulation, recitations, sermons, speeches, lectures. But texts also migrated in less usual directions. Commonplacing of select passages and copying of shorter works into albums were widespread practices, and surviving manuscripts suggest that more extensive copying from print was also done when a printed text was difficult to obtain. Other topics could include the migration of texts between various print media: that is, between newspapers, magazines, anthologies, collected works, etc. Papers are welcomed on any aspect of textual migrations, and their significance, during the period.

abstracts to:

Theory for Romanticism (Andrew Warren, Harvard University)

Note: The format of this session will consist of a series of short presentations of about 10 minutes in length, followed by a roundtable discussion among the participants and, finally, an audience Q&A.

This panel is looking for papers that address how theory is being, or can be, or has been used to read and think with Romantic texts. While more general approaches are welcome, proposals showing how a particular theoretical concept works in, or against, particular works are especially encouraged. The hope is to create a lively roundtable discussion that helps define or problematize crucial terms and questions in the field. What might it mean, for instance, to put “theory” to “use”? What counts as “theory,” and who’s counting? How is theory limited or actuated by “concepts”? How has a particular concept been used or abused in the history of Romantic studies? How do we as Romanticists seem to be engaging with theory now? How should we, if at all?

abstracts to:

Unmoving and Unmoved: Charting the Contours of Stoic Romanticism (Jacob Risinger,
Harvard University)

In “The Four Ages of Poetry” (1820), Thomas Love Peacock made the satirical
assertion that poetry’s highest aspirations were limited to three categories: “the rant of
unregulated passion, the whining of exaggerated feeling, and the cant of factitious
sentiment.” But beneath his satire, Peacock raised a more disquieting point: in overemphasizing affective extremity at the expense of “the philosophic mental tranquility that looks round with an equal eye on all external things,” poetry in the romantic age risked disconnection from “the real business of life.”

This panel takes Peacock’s assessment as a prompt for a broad investigation: what
should be made of the affectless, stoical substratum that complements romanticism’s “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”? How do everyday states of disinterestedness, indifference, insensibility, and stoic apatheia round out our picture of what romantic poesis entails? Do the stoical preoccupations of figures like Rousseau, Kant, Smith, or Godwin inflect their influence on the literature of the period? What debts do literary and philosophical manifestations of stoic apathy owe to romantic period politics, science, and medicine? How might an emphasis of romantic dispassion alter our sense of gender, cosmopolitanism, or the relationship between history and literature in the period?

abstracts to:

Void Theory: Voids, The Void, and Avoidance (Elizabeth Fay, University of Massachusetts,

This session addresses the Romantic conception of the void, traditionally a phenomenon referring to that from which the cosmos was created, but during the Romantic period also associated with the abyss, part of the sublime landscape, and to the gateway figure of the precipice. The void was also aligned with the idea of an internal void. Romantic irony incorporates the concept of internal void; sublime experience is characterized by the voiding of selfhood in order to join with a greater, external subjectivity; consumerism masks the internal void by filling up an unacknowledged emptiness. Avoidance practices, deflecting the terror of the void by busying the mind and senses, fill the period’s literature as representation or through cultural critique. When brought into conversation, the void, the abyss, and avoidance constellate the elements of what might be called “void theory,” providing a way to think productively about cosmic and individual emptiness, and the avoidance of experiencing nightmarish versions of either. The first two are the dark shadow of Romantic transcendence; the third is the dark twin of consumer desire as well as of the cultural fascination with melancholia.

Papers are invited that consider philosophical or theological conceptions of the cosmic void, literary uses of the void or the sublime precipice and abyss, material or embodied avoidance practices, or any combination of these. This topic also lends itself to geological theories, cosmic history, discoveries made through scientific and medical breakthroughs and theories, searches for the origins of human culture, commodity culture, and travel writing.

abstracts to: elizabeth.fay@umb.ed