Quarterly Editor’s Note: Interdisciplinary Idea(l)s & Graduate Studies in Romanticism

It’s been an exhilarating and frenetic start to autumn, not least because I’ve been entrusted with managing this extraordinary blog in addition to taking up my first position at Northwestern in the capacity of graduate fellow at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. There, I’ve been—and will spend the better part of this year—gearing my energies towards the organization of an exhibition of William Blake’s art in relation to his reception into the literary, musical, and visual cultures of the long-1960s. In many ways, it’s a dream year. Yet, the first five weeks of the quarter—serving as both a curator and editor of sorts—have become cause for new meditations on new possibilities. Convening a group of accomplished scholars working on romanticism and re-constructing Blake as an artist whose work becomes an impetus through which further acts of artistic production became catalyzed has led me to consider the role our blogging community plays in the generation of new approaches to both research and teaching. At its core, it seems to me that the blog represents a space in which our experiences are shared, best practices are disseminated, the rush of new insights are felt, and that new directions in scholarship become swiftly circulated so that others might immediately benefit. To my mind, it is when this dialogue takes place at the nexus of differing disciplinary practices that it proves most effective. These commitments inform how I’ve gone about organizing the blog for the coming academic year. As a result, in what follows—my first “editor’s note,” an exercise I hope to repeat quarterly, not as a point of privilege but as a means to synthesize and highlight certain aspects of the blog’s discussion from time to time—I introduce this year’s new authors, discuss my launching of a contemporary artist in “E-Residence” position with the blog, and present an imagining of how these matters might play out. Moreover, I invite comments and suggestions as to how others feel about the goals and objectives of the blog, and specifically about what others might wish to see addressed in the coming months.

At the center of all this is how truly excited and elated I am with respect to the Romantic Studies graduate blogging team joining the community with the advent of the 2013/14 academic year. Perhaps, it is because I am the resident art historian of the NASSR Graduate Student caucus, but what I enjoy most about this collective of emerging scholars is the dazzling array of interdisciplinary work that—to my mind—comprises the very best in scholarship presently being undertaken in our field. In this regard, I am extremely delighted to welcome the graduate students who will begin writing for the blog, all of whose work stands at the interstices of romanticism and a veritable range of disciplinary practices, from economics and gender (Renee Harris), to the medical sciences (Arden Hegele), to the digital humanities (Jennifer Leeds), and all the way to archaeology (Deven Parker). Given the critical mass of perspectives and viewpoints this fall’s new cadre of bloggers represent, the discussions that take place here promise to be important, insightful, and vital ones. Just as well, I am thrilled to welcome the first scholarly collective to be featured on the blog—the highly enterprising Arizona State University 19th Century colloquium. In principle, I believe it’s crucial for us to chart, not only the ideas and practices that we come up with on our own as romanticists (and/or as scholars of the long eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries generally), but also the advances that necessarily come about through the social networks with which we identify. After all, it is my contention that when we do our best work, we often do so when we operate neither in scholarly isolation nor in seclusion, but when we combine minds and efforts taking part in robust scholarly communities.

Further, I am ecstatic that Nicole Geary (Printmaking MFA, 2013) has accepted the caucus’s invitation to join the blog as this year’s Artist in (E-)Residence. Because Nicole’s work as a printmaker and sculptor intensely engages issues of contemporary ecology, geology, and memory—and does so within the artistic key of a research-based practice predicated upon on a scientific methodology—I thought Nicole a particularly well-suited artist to take part in the NGSC. Her art grapples with a set of social/environmental problems and critical and aesthetic possibilities resonant with the scholarship presently being taken up by a number of caucus members. While the idea is an experiment on my part—though not entirely original, in that other communities have sought out insights that might be gleaned from scholarly/artistic collaboration—I am eager to see how an artist’s perspective will illuminate our own work as scholars in new ways. Also, I find myself enticed by the prospect that our community might contribute to the production of art within our own social/cultural horizon. Ultimately, it is my hope that the Artist in (E-)Residence caucus post might prove sufficiently viable so as to alternate in succeeding years between a poet and an artist working in visual or other media (musical, architectural, or otherwise).

In any event, I enthusiastically anticipate a quarter, and year, for this graduate student caucus wrought with brilliant possibilities for intellectual revelry, debate, and jouissance at every level. Indeed, posts have already been proposed taking up a range of topics from thinking through contemporary issues of fracking with Percy Shelley, to issues of gender and sexuality as they pertain to Michael Suk-Young Chew’s recent book, Jane Austen: Game Theorist, to the critical issue of the contingencies, risks, and rewards associated with open-access online scholarly engagement.

The year promises to be lively. The state of graduate studies in romanticism is strong. Therefore, I say, please join in the discussion, either by way of comments or as a guest blogger. We look forward to your participation.