CFP: Histories of Representation: 19th-Century France and 21st-Century Culture (4/1/06; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Hawthorne, Melanie
contact email: 

Histories of Representation: 19th-Century France and 21st- Century =


            The 19th century is the age of the visual--the panoramic, =
the cinematic, the spectacular-and nowhere do we see this more vividly =
than in French literature, history, and culture. The 20th century, by =
contrast, turned significantly away from such preoccupations, exploring =
instead the surreal, the abstract, the inner world of subjectivity. A =
mere five years into the new millennium, we are seeing the results of =
yet another turn, one that may be a re-turn to the scopic predilections =
of the 19th century. In this era of the ipod nano, the wireless laptop, =
and the cellphone-camera--of magical technology as personal =
accoutrement and consumable object-ours is fast becoming an age of =
ever-smaller, ever-more-portable, ever-more-dazzling visual images of =
the world around us, both "real" and imagined. We seem to be returning =
to the fascinations, delights, and dilemmas of the 19th century, to be =
experiencing a burst of pleasure at new ways of representing, =
describing, mastering, containing an otherwise proliferating world.


We may also, however, be discovering, as did our 19th-century =
predecessors, that along with such pleasures comes anxiety, in our case =
that control is illusive, technology is oppressive, and information is a =
burden. For every utopic aspiration there is, it seems, a dystopic =
undercurrent. The 19th century may have reveled in cataloging the =
objects of the real world and in celebrating its scopic observations in =
fiction and in art and in the writing of history, but in terms of its =
knowledge of the world it lost that sense of assurance that =
characterized the Enlightenment. The euphoria of the late 18th century =
was followed by an erosion of confidence in the 19th when it became =
clear that the totalizing gesture epitomized by the Encyclop=E9die was =
illusory and that description does not exhaust knowledge.


We in the 21st century may be positioned to experience a similar =
epistemological crisis. Just as the 19th century struggled to =
recalibrate and re-envision the external world following the previous =
century's explosion of knowledge, so our own century may have to =
re-assess our mastery of the world following the technological advances =
generated in the last century by the computer revolution.=20


In the proposed volume we hope to do two things. We seek to add to =
current conversations on the 19th century and its visual encounters =
(through its histories, its art, and its fiction) with the world around =
it. We would also like, however, to reflect on the ways in which the =
19th century and its histories of representation speak to us in the 21st =
century. We anticipate that some contributions will focus exclusively =
on 19th -century France while others will address more explicitly =
certain parallels between then and now. Substantial abstracts (1-2 =
pages) or complete essays with accompanying abstract should be sent to =
us by April 1st, 2006. =20


            Deborah Harter (

            Melanie Hawthorne (

            Alexandra Wettlaufer ( =
<> )=20

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Received on Tue Feb 14 2006 - 11:12:14 EST