'Embodying Romanticism' - Romantic Studies Association of Australasia 2019 Conference
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.