UPDATE: [Romantic] Romantic Disorder Conference 2009: Extended Deadline

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adriana craciun
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Call for Papers

Romantic Disorder:
Predisciplinarity and the Divisions of Knowledge 1750-1850

International Conference, 18-20 June 2009
Birkbeck, University of London

Web: www.bbk.ac.uk/eh/research/research_conferences/romantic_disorder

This conference explores the fluid and unfamiliar contours of predisciplinarity/adisciplinarity in
an expansive Romantic Century, 1750-1850. We envision this conference as an opportunity to
defamiliarize foundational moments, master narratives, and key figures of the Romantic century,
by opening them up to predisciplinary and eccentric objects, encounters, and texts.

Modern disciplines like geology, history, and anthropology often trace their origins to Romantic-
era developments. “Literature,” as a distinct category of expressive writing also emerged in
conjunction with other disciplines, a synthetic dialogue that would later be characterized as a
contentious division between “two cultures.” So too do sites such as the gallery, the museum,
and the academy emerge around this time as new forms of sociability, as attempts to display
unruly arrays of pictures and other eccentric specimens. What can Romantic-era aesthetic
practices contribute to our understandings of the rise of disciplinarity in the nineteenth century?
How can the increasing professionalization and isolation of practices like botany, literary
criticism, geology, art and theatre reviews, and collecting illuminate the unruly dynamism of
aesthetic forms, both verbal and visual? How do the spaces (whether institutional, geographic, or
social) of predisciplinary encounters and formations help shape disciplinary discourses, and how
do subjects with varying degrees of agency participate in these discourses? Reading against the
grain of the “rise of disciplinarity”, and trying to undo its teleological short circuits, this
conference seeks to engage imaginatively with the possibilities of predisciplinarity.

Plenary Speakers: James Chandler (Chicago), Jonathan Lamb (Vanderbilt), Nicholas Thomas

Possible Topics:
predisciplinarity and Enlightenment universalism
cosmopolitanism and predisciplinarity
sites and spaces of disciplinary formation
gentlemen experts and professionals
eclecticism and specialization
accidents, ephemera, exceptions, monsters
eccentric objects inside/outside galleries, museums and other displays
museum objects, museum narratives, museum disciplines
learned societies and institutions
disciplinarity, punishment and the law
culturally specific disciplines
archane, discredited or vestigial disciplines
counterfactual disciplines: alternative outcomes
exploration and empire as generators of disciplines
frontiers of disciplines
gender and discipline
Romantic resistance to disciplinarity
genres and disciplines
predisciplinary periodicals and print culture
travelers before disciplinary boundaries
the Humboldts and academic disciplines
evolutionism and disciplinary change
catastrophism and uniformitarianism: disciplinary transformations

Revised Deadline: Please send 300-word abstracts to romantic.disorder_at_bbk.ac.uk by 1
December 2008.

Organization: Hosted by the Institute of English Studies (School of Advanced Studies, University
of London) and the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies (Birkbeck, University of London), with
the support of the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (Birkbeck, University of

Conference Committee: Luisa Calè (l.cale_at_bbk.ac.uk), Adriana Craciun (adriana.craciun_at_ucr.edu),
Luciana Martins (l.martins_at_bbk.ac.uk), Sue Wiseman (s.wiseman_at_bbk.ac.uk)

Web: www.bbk.ac.uk/eh/research/research_conferences/romantic_disorder

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Received on Thu Sep 18 2008 - 17:16:09 EDT