UPDATE: [18th] Romantic Disorder: Predisciplinarity and the Divisions of Knowledge 1750-1850

full name / name of organization: 
Luisa Cale'

Romantic Disorder:
Predisciplinarity and the Divisions of Knowledge 1750-1850
(London, 18-20 June 2009)
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 (Cambridge)

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

Call for Papers: Please send 300 word abstracts to
romantic.disorder_at_bbk.ac.uk by 1 October 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 London).

Conference Committee: Luisa Calè (l.cale_at_bbk.ac.uk), Adriana Craciun
(a.craciun_at_bbk.ac.uk), Luciana Martins (l.martins_at_bbk.ac.uk), Sue Wiseman

 From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
             more information at
Received on Tue Feb 19 2008 - 11:51:28 EST