Reweaving the Rainbow: Literature & Philosophy, 1850-1910

full name / name of organization: 
University of Exeter, UK
contact email: 
k.hext@ex.ac.uk

Reweaving the Rainbow: Literature and Philosophy 1850-1910

University of Exeter, 10th - 11th September 2010

Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof. Michael Wood (Princeton)

Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine --
Unweave a rainbow...
(Keats, Lamia, 229-237)

John Keats' famous indictment illustrates the historically ambivalent encounter between literature and 'cold' philosophy. In the decades that followed, this relationship was to enter a new phase, as each field sought to redefine itself to befit the emerging conditions of modernity. Yet even as the endeavour to explore philosophical issues and the influence of philosophical discourses burgeoned in novels, poetry and essays, the separate institutionalisation of philosophy and English literature in universities from the early 1890s pulled these most intimately related 'disciplines' apart.

This interdisciplinary two-day conference will explore the vicissitudes of influence, appropriation, interaction and disciplinarity in 'English literature' and 'philosophy'. It will address the ways in which literature is philosophical and philosophy is literary, and how their interactions evolved in the course of this period. We are seeking to raise a range of issues including, but not limited to:

* How novels and poetry exploit the philosophical potentialities of literary form, including the treatment and expansion of philosophical issues such as ethics and epistemology in literary works (eg. Henry James' empiricism, Wilde's aphorisms)

* The influence of philosophers on literary writers (eg. Feuerbach and Eliot, Ancient Greek philosophy and Arnold, Nietzsche and Vernon Lee)

* Intellectual and literary culture in Britain (eg. the Classics in Oxford, the British Hegelians, the rise of Positivism, the persistence of Romantic philosophies)

* The philosophy of literature and the arts (eg. Ruskin, George Moore, Arthur Symons)

* The way that science influenced philosophical discourses in essays, novels and poetry (eg. evolution and ethics, Hardy and social Darwinism)

The DEADLINE for submission of abstracts is 2nd APRIL 2010. Please send an abstract of around 300 words and a brief biography to Dr. Kate Hext and EII Research Fellow Alice Barnaby at k.hext@ex.ac.uk no later than this date. Questions and comments are also welcome!

cfp categories: 
international_conferences
twentieth_century_and_beyond
victorian