Romanticism and the Anthropocene

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Elizabeth Effinger / North American Society for the Study of Romanticism Joint NASSR/ACCUTE panel
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Every year, the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism and the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) cooperate in the form of a series of joint sessions at ACCUTE's annual conference at the Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS). Congress brings together a wide variety of scholarly organizations for their annual conferences. Please join us at Congress for the 2016 joint NASSR/ACCUTE sessions. Congress 2016 will be held 28 May - 3 June 2016 at the University of Calgary.

Romanticism and the Anthropocene

"The world is too much with us," writes Wordsworth, "late and soon / Getting and spending, we lay waste our / powers." These lines cast a long shadow throughout the Anthropocene, the name that scientists have given to describe our current geological epoch defined by the significant impact of humans on the geophysical and chemical processes of Earth. Anthropogenic signatures, mineral layers of man-made carbon sediment found in ice-core samples that date back to the early Romantic period, tell us about the impact of human existence and industry; they also inscribe humanity within a geological archive. Suddenly, humans find themselves capable of being read – like fossils, bones, anda rocks – as pages within the history of the earth. Human history collides with natural history.

With its origins in the 1790s, marked by the burning of fossil fuels, the Anthropocene is, in many ways, a Romantic problem. This panel seeks papers that consider what the Anthropocene means for Romanticism. What is its impact on Romantic historiography? How – if at all – does this new geological epoch recast our readings of Romanticism? How were Romantic writers engaged with anthropogenic processes?We will consider how Romantic literature (in the broadest sense) addresses climate change, environmental distress, and various eco-"endgames" (disasters, catastrophes, extinctions). Furthermore, this panel hopes to explore in what ways – and to what ends – current discussions of the Anthropocene are coloured by the rhetoric and aesthetics (cf. sublime) of Romanticism. What is the purchase (or peril) of a Romantically-inflected Anthropocene?

This session seeks papers broadly addressing any aspect of the collusion between Romanticism and the Anthropocene. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

• Environment, atmosphere, climate

• Major or minor climactic events ("the year without a summer")

• Scale, rate/speed, synchronicity, complexity
• Extinction, end of nature, ecological distress

• Populations and communities

• Agency (biotic and abiotic, human and otherwise)

• Anthropos

• Affects (melancholy, misanthropy, nostalgia, shame, joy, ecstasy)

• Aesthetics (sublime, beautiful, ugly, picturesque)

• Industrial developments, inventions, new technologies

• Disciplines and knowledge practices (stratigraphy, archaeology, geology)
• Revolutions (socio-political and geological)

• Romantic art and music


• Processes of change (composition, decomposition, recomposition)

• History and historiography

• Posthumanist ecocritical perspectives

Please send a 300-500-word proposal (with no identifying marks), a 100-word abstract, a 50-word bio, and a Proposal Submissions Information Sheet (available on the ACCUTE website) to Elizabeth Effinger eeffinge@gmail.com by 1 November 2015 .