"Romantic Ecocriticism" Panel Proposal due 10/13/13

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Northeast MLA Conference 2014 April 3-6, 2014
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NeMLA 2014 Conference
Harrisburg, PA April 3-6, 2014

Panel Title: Romantic Ecocriticism

Romantic Ecocriticism embraces interdisciplinarity as a means by which to examine textual material concerning the nexus between literature and science. Whereas, during the 1970s-80s, historicist readings of English Romantic literature espoused by Meyer Abrams, Alan Liu, and Marjorie Levinson among others featured the "spirit of the age" incited by the French Revolution in 1789; this panel focuses on the "science of the age" in the aim to trace evidence of science as that which inspired the poetry and prose by Romantic writers. William Wordsworth read Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne (1789); Samuel Taylor Coleridge often attended the lectures by Humphrey Davy, renowned chemist; Percy Shelley's intense interest in geology had been likely inspired by James Hutton's Theory of the Earth (1788); Wordsworth became close friends with Adam Sedgwick, founder of the Geological Society, who appended letters to Wordsworth's Guide to the Lakes (1850s); Ralph Waldo Emerson visited the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris; Thoreau read William Howitt's Book of the Seasons (1836).

A few questions will frame the panel: 1) To what extent has scientific inquiry shaped the literary texts produced by Romantic writers? 2) What are the implications of cross-disciplinary activity and thought: poet-turned-scientist or scientist-turned-poet? The aim of Romantic Ecocriticism is not to direct a response at new historicist practices even though this panel hopes to feature a viable alternative to interpreting Romantic literary texts. Rather, Romantic Ecocriticism is interested in fresh interpretations of canonical and non-canonical Romantic material from the British or American traditions to demonstrate that writers and scientists shared ideas, inspired work, and enjoyed lasting friendships.

Romantic Ecocriticism invites papers that examine Romantic textual material concerning the nexus between literature and science. Proposals need to include: name, paper title, abstract (200 words), institution, and academic profile (100 words). Please send proposals to Dewey Hall at dwhall@csupomona.edu by 10/13/13.