Heroes, Rebels and Outlaws: Escapism and 19th Century Literature

deadline for submissions: 
March 12, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
GIRES-Global Institute for Research Education & Scholarship
contact email: 

Heroes, Rebels and Outlaws: Escapism and 19th Century Literature International Seminar
6 sessions in total (March,April,May 2022) 

Course Facilitator: Olga Akroyd , Ph.D 

The Idea
GIRES, the Global Institute for Research, Education & Scholarship is proud to introduce a series of short seminars dedicated to literature. We embrace Scott Fitzgerald’s opinion about the beauty of this fine craft: “You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” We do belong to this world and we hope that we will travel you through the great works that altered our mentality, matured  feelings and made us dreamers. Our very own, Dr. Olga Akroyd will be the guide in this wonderful literary journey.  

The Aim
The seminars are focusing on the concept of escapism, and various ways and means of defining “escapism” in 19th century literature. The idea of escaping, living on the edge, or openly opposing societal order by identifying with a particular literary hero has been a significant literary trend at least since the dawning of Romanticism. By exploring a range of landmark texts asserting the figure of the rebel or outlaw juxtaposed to society, we would discuss what this means in a broader contemporaneous historical context.

The Structure
The seminars consists of a condensed discussion of a core text chosen for each session.
They are separated into three (3) main blocks + Q&A: 

1. Main themes
2. Background
3. Secondary / less discussed themes or details 

+Q&A: Participants are welcome to discuss with Dr. Akroyd and clarify any questions/thoughts/opinions may arise during each seminar.

The Program

The Ingenious Pastiche (Sunday- March 13, 2022)
The phenomenon of Ossian and the reception of Ossianic literature at the dawning of Romanticist era.
The phenomenon of Ossianic literature, emerging at the end of the 18th century, was a powerful antidote to the clean-cut Enlightenment world. Focusing on the imagery rooted in the Celtic mythological tradition, it gave a new direction to the nascent nationalistic feelings at the time, reflecting what was going on historically. We will consider the relevance of Ossian phenomenon in relation to the historical context.

Dressed like a Dandy of old London (March 20, 2022)
The Byronic hero and the onset of individualistic experience
George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) was a rather unique phenomenon, yet his legacy completely overturned what was understood under the term “poetry.” One of the founding fathers of the Romanticist movement, Byron highlights the significance of individual experience and individual expression. We will look at Byron-Pushkin dialogue in “Eugene Onegin” to consider this.

Yearning for Freedom (Sunday- March 27, 2022)
19thC America and existence on the edge of the known world
It is a historical fact that the first novel that supposedly heralded the beginning of the “Great American Novel” tradition was by James Fenimore Cooper. By choosing to depict the wilderness of America and American history, Cooper contradicts the genteel sensibilities of the 19thC novel. We will look at the Leatherstocking Tales cycle by Cooper to explore this topic.

Dark Hope Forlorn (Sunday- April 3, 2022)
What does it mean to be a woman living “on the edge” as an outlaw? 
Looking at the characters of Isabel Banford in Herman Melville’s “Pierre” and Hunilla in “The Encantadas” we will consider this.

Fathers and Sons (Sunday- April 10, 2022)
Youth and Rebellion in mid-19thC context
Youthful rebellion presents a powerful topic by 1870s. And in Russian literature this subject is particularly well-depicted. We will look at the figure of the youthful rebel in “Fathers and Sons” by Turgenev and “Demons” by Dostoevsky.

Delving into the Dangerous Grounds (Sunday- April 24, 2022)
Occultism and Democracy
Exiting the constraints of traditional femininity. Horror or liberation? As growing democratic consciousness took the world by storm post-1848, education, knowledge, and particularly esoteric knowledge proved to be a powerful means to transgress societal and class boundaries. We will look at the conflict between Helena Blavatsky and Paschal Beverly Randolph to consider the views surrounding this concept. 

Due to the restrictions of Corona Crisis our event (for the time being) will take place VIRTUALLY

More information & registration:https://www.gires.org/activities/seminars/heroes-rebels-and-outlaws-esca...