Close, Distant, Personal, Historical: The Elements of Reading Romanticism

deadline for submissions: 
January 4, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR 2019)
contact email: 

Over the last decade, there has been an eruption of scholarly interest in the practices, methodologies, and techne of reading. Best and Marcus’s surface reading—which has influenced a broad sweep of New Formalist criticism—emerged alongside distant reading, one of the major interpretive paradigms of the digital humanities. The development of these twenty-first-century movements has been matched by renewed interest in twentieth-century formalisms, including the history of the New Criticism and the proto-neuroscientific approaches to reading taken by critics such as I.A. Richards. Finally, adjacent to cognitive literary studies and its ties to affect theory, scholars have recently focused on the experiential, rather than analytical, dimensions of reading, its personal, ethical, and emotional elements.

Corresponding with the bicentennial of, to use James Chandler’s term, one of the hottest years for reading in the Romantic era—as well as the thirty-fifth anniversary of De Man’s Rhetoric of Romanticism, a touchstone for Romanticism’s pas de deux with poststructural interpretation–this panel seeks papers that will connect our new reading practices to early- nineteenth-century readers, as well as the kinds of reading in which they engaged. How does our ingestion of contemporary new media tally with the Romantics’ absorption of pamphlets, novels, “sickly and stupid German tragedies,” subscription services, newspapers, and circulating letters? Do Romantic texts inspire a defiantly non-Kantian, historically and ethnographically-mediated version of close reading? As opposed to “loving literature” and spending time with characters we adore, why do we—and our Romantic forerunners—spend time with the fictional personae we loathe? What sort of nineteenth-century data was collected about the reading public and what kind of archives were assembled around their preferences? Does the turn to a philosophy of negation in Romanticist scholarship challenge styles of reading that are known for their resistance—perhaps even hostility—to critique? Please submit 300-word abstracts and a CV to Jamison Kantor ( by 1/4/19. Papers should last between 15-20 minutes.

NASSR 2019 will take place in Chicago on August 8-11, 2019.