“No Prospect: Romanticism at the Edge”
November 2, 2012
This one-day conference hosted by the University of Massachusetts Boston's Research Center for Urban Cultural History explored Romanticism and the struggle to engage opacity, abstraction, hauntings, resistance, and ruins.
"No Prospect: Romanticism at the Edge" takes on the explorations made by Romantic and post-Romantic writers and artists in the non-transparencies of a cultural moment when futures trading becomes impossibly destabilized, and all predictors thrown off-course by the lack of an unquestioned stance or perspective. Without a standardized point of reference, there can be no prospect from which to view and comprehend the world. In addition, there can be no reliable frame of reference, and no frame for the perceived world as it includes the responsive subject. The ethical as well as aesthetic response is mitigated not just by political critique, but by a sense that there may be no way forward. Such a predicament makes the aesthetic at once more valuable as an interpretive tool and more open to question in terms of the ethical.
Confronted with such a dilemma, Romantics—and post-Romantics responding to similar dilemmas—have sought ways to engage opacity, abstraction, alternative scapes, and hauntings while at the same time contemplating the resistance and the strange generativeness of material objects, ruined or barely inhabitable spaces, waste and rubble, and the codes by which these things are normally understood. Conference sessions will bring together different approaches to the problem of being without prospect, with its combined interest in differing ontologies of objecthood and the conceptual and aesthetic difficulties of dealing with unknowables.
David l. Clark, Professor of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
William Keach, Brown University
Sonia Hofkosh, Tufts University
David Collings, Bowdoin College
Orrin Wang, University of Maryland
Jacques Khalip, Brown University
Forest Pyle, University of Oregon