Although the body has preoccupied literary scholarship for some time, there has
been a renewed attention in Romantic studies to the complex ways in which literature
encodes and reproduces our awareness of embodied experience. Challenging views
of Romanticism as bounded by visionary and idealist expression, such work reflects
a reorientation of criticism around the materiality of Romantic culture, whether
configured as part of the age of sensibility or in relation to the era’s natural and social
sciences. The Romantic period was, moreover, a time when control of the body
emerged as a key political issue in workshops, homes, battlefields and colonies, when
bodies were subject to rapidly evolving ideas of gender, class and race, while new
bodies of knowledge and corporate political bodies emerged to regulate the affairs
of nations and empires. This was a period when bodies were subject to ever more
intensive modes of analysis and management, at the same time that bodies imposed
their transgressive physicality through new understandings of environments, vitalism,
trauma, slavery, disease and taste. Attentive to such developments, Romantic studies
in turn dovetails with a broader materialist emphasis that explores how bodies are
shaped in relation to affect, biopolitics, speculative realism, post-humanism and
eco-criticism. Alain Badiou has recently proposed that our modern, liberal ideology
can today only perceive two objects: bodies and language. Aligning itself at the
conjuncture of these two terms, this conference invites papers that broadly consider
how embodiment was evoked, challenged and understood in Romantic cultural life.
We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspects of Romanticism and
embodiment. Proposals may be for individual papers or for panels of 3-4 papers.
Postgraduate bursaries are available. See the conference website for details: