CFP: “Romanticism and the Tyrannies of Distance,” RSSA, Australia, February 2011

Romanticism and the Tyrannies of Distance

10-12 February 2011
Call For Papers

Plenary speakers:

Deirdre Coleman (Melbourne)

Nicholas Roe ( St Andrews)

James Chandler (Chicago)


Iain McCalman (Sydney)

Gillian Russell (ANU)

Clara Tuite (Melbourne)

Jon Mee (Warwickshire)

This is the first of the biennial conferences planned for the newly founded Romantic Studies Association of Australasia (RSAA), to take place at the University of Sydney from Thursday to Saturday, 10-12 February 2011.

THE EAST COAST of New Holland was discovered and mapped by Captain James Cook, its flora and fauna recorded and categorised by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, in the autumn of 1770, the same year that saw the births on the other side of the world of Wordsworth and Beethoven, making the origin and establishment of the modern Australian nation coincident with the origin and establishment of what we conventionally, if controversially, refer to as the Romantic period. This coincidence, though only one of a number of reasons for forming a confederation of Australasian Romanticists, is nonetheless a compelling one, and we invite scholars of the period from all over the world, as well as from Australia and New Zealand, to join us in marking and celebrating the foundation of the RSAA with a major scholarly event.

The theme of the conference will be ‘Romanticism and the Tyrannies of Distance’, after the Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey’s now classic account of the way the geographical remoteness of Australia has shaped its history and identity. From here, it is but a small step to seeing the way in which all kinds of distance – and the will to overcome distance – conditioned and challenged the writers and thinkers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Indeed, in the spirit of new beginnings, scholars are encouraged to use the historical distance of the early twenty first century and the geographical and cultural distance of the Great South Land to reconceptualise the geographical and cultural field of Romantic studies.

Will Christie
University of Sydney

Plenary speakers:

Deirdre Coleman holds the Robert Wallace Chair of English at the University of Melbourne and is the author of Coleridge and The Friend, 1809-10 (Oxford, 1988) and Maiden Voyages and Infant Colonies: Two Women’s Travel Narratives of the 1790s (Leicester, 1999), and of the major study of Romantic Colonization and British Anti-Slavery (Cambridge, 2005). She is currently writing a biography of the flycatcher Henry Smeathman.

Nicholas Roe is Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, founding editor of the journal Romanticism, and the author of several other books that have helped shape the course of Romantic studies over the last twenty five years, beginning with Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years (Oxford, 1988), and including The Politics of Nature: William Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries (Basingstoke, 1992), Keats and History (Cambridge, 1995), John Keats and the Culture of Dissent (Oxford, 1997), and Fiery Heart: The First Life of Leigh Hunt (London, 2005). He is currently writing a new biography of John Keats for Yale University Press, and is Chair of the Keats House Foundation, Hampstead.

James Chandler is the Barbara E. & Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago, author of two influential works of Romantic history and Romantic historicism, Wordsworth’s Second Nature: A Study of the Poetry and Politics (Chicago, 1984) and England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism (Chicago, 1998), and has recently edited The New Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature (Cambridge, 2008).

Back to top of page

Panel discussion of ‘Romanticism In Australia’ with the assembled editors of The Oxford Companion To The Romantic Age (1999):

Iain McCalman, a Professorial Research Fellow and ARC Federation Fellow at the University of Sydney, is author of numerous studies of high and low culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries, and Pornographers in London, 1795-1840 (Oxford, 1988), The Seven Ordeals of Count Cagliostro (London, 2003), and Darwin’s Armada: How four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world (Melbourne, London, New York, 2009).

Gillian Russell, an ARC Professorial Fellow at the Australian National University, is author of The Theatres of War: Performance, Politics, and Society, 1793-1815 (Oxford, 1995) and Women, Sociability and Theatre in Georgian Britain (Cambridge, 2007), and is co-editor (with Clara Tuite) of Romantic Sociability: Social Networks and Literary Culture in Britain, 1770- 1840 (Oxford, 2002).

Clara Tuite, an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, is author of Romantic Austen: Sexual Politics and the Literary Canon (Cambridge, 2002) and is co-editor (with Gillian Russell) of Romantic Sociability: Social Networks and Literary Culture in Britain, 1770- 1840 (Oxford, 2002) and (with Claudia L. Johnson) of The Blackwell Companion to Jane Austen (Oxford, 2008).

Jon Mee, Professor of Romanticism Studies at the University of Warwickshire, is the author of Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s (Oxford, 1992) and Romanticism, Enthusiasm, and Regulation: Poetics and the Policing of Culture in the Romantic Period (Oxford, 2003), with Conversible Worlds: Literature and the Idea of Conversation in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Period forthcoming, again from Oxford University Press.

Back to top of page

We invite submissions covering the full range of possible meanings of “distance” in Romantic studies – including (but not limited to)

  • Transportation, travel, exploration, emigration, settlement, and repatriation
  • Transport, spiritual and material
  • Distances real and imagined: writing the remote in time and place and culture
  • The distance between social ranks or classes
  • Gender and race and generation distances
  • Linguistic distances, and cultural and textual translation
  • Generic distances: the hierarchies of art
  • Literature and science, literature and religion, science and religion
  • Overcoming distance: Romantic correspondence
  • The country and the city
  • The Romantic period itself as a strange country

Those interested in proposing 20-minute papers, or full panels of three speakers and a chair, should submit abstracts of between 250 and 400 words and a 150-word bio by 1 October 2010. This can be done here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s