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November 3–4, 2016

1008 Humanities Building, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 


The event will probe the ways in which the Romantic period, and our own treatments of it, broach, revive or invent notions of time and futurity to deal with the cultural, social and political challenges of the period—a moment when the past flashed up in a moment of danger, as Benjamin said, and the present was meant to be blasted out of the continuum of history. If history was a record of progress, as Enlightened thinkers argued, that was also a document of barbarity, how did this apprehension stoke the period’s writings and forms of collective action and identity? 





Event Schedule

Thursday, November 3, 2016

2:00 pm         Welcome by Kathleen Wilson, HISB Director

     Introduction by Peter Manning, Stony Brook University

2:30 pm         Presentation by Paul Hamilton, Queen Mary University London

“Imagining Restoration: Romanticism and the Future”

Restoration got a bad name in liberal political circles; poetically speaking, it was an essential trope in the Romantic understanding of time and history. This paper examines how some Romantics imagined historical initiatives in response to the French Revolution, creating an image of Europe counter to the actual post-Napoleonic settlement.

3:30 pm          Break

3:45 pm          Presentation by Brent Sirota, North Carolina State University

“The London Jews' Society and the Roots of Premillennialism, 1809-1829”

This paper will explore the uses and abuses of apocalypticism in the operations of the London Jews' Society in the early nineteenth century. It will argue that the peculiar milieu of Jews' Society and the ideological tensions besetting it formed the matrix out of which modern premillennial eschatology was born.

4:45 pm         Round Table discussion

5:30 pm         Reception


Friday, November 4, 2016


10:00 am       Welcome by Kathleen Wilson, HISB Director

10:15 pm       Presentation by Meg Russett, University of Southern California

"A Vision in a Dream-Machine:  Xanadu, 'Kubla Khan,' and Hypertopia" 

This talk explores hypertextual futurity as envisioned in Ted Nelson's Xanadu Project, usually described as an ancestor of the World Wide Web.  At once publishing system and universal archive, Xanadu was to be "the pleasure-dome of the creative writer" as well as a perfected literary history.  To understand the Xanalogical future, however, we must also understand its Romanticism.

11:15 am       Break

11:30 am       Presentation by James Mulholland, North Carolina State University

“The Dancing Boys of Mysore: Coercion and Captivity from India to Iraq”

The presentation examines how late-eighteenth-century Anglophone captivity narratives describe the bodily and cultural modifications of white adolescents captured by the Kingdome of Mysore during its conflicts with the East India Company. These adolescents raised questions about the coercive and volitional nature of captivity. Mulholland ties their experiences to those of twenty-first-century American captives of the Iraq War.

12:30 pm      Round Table discussion

1:15 pm         Closing remarks


Paul Hamilton is Professor of English at Queen Mary University of London. His research is in Romanticism and the relations between literature, philosophy and political theory generally. His many publications include  Realpoetik: European Romanticism and Literary Politics and  The Oxford Handbook of European Romanticism.

Peter Manning is Professor in English at Stony Brook University. He is the author of Byron and His Fictions and of Reading Romantics, and of numerous essays on the poetry and prose of the British Romantic writers. He co-edited the Penguin Lord Byron: Selected Poetry and Lord Byron: Don Juan, and the anthology The Romantics and Their Contemporaries.

James Mulholland is an Associate Professor of English at NC State University. His book, Sounding Imperial: Poetic Voice and the Politics of Empire, 1730-1820, was published in 2013 by Johns Hopkins University Press. His next project explores the emergence of Anglo-Indian literature during the late eighteenth century.

Margaret Russett is Professor of English at the University of Southern California, specializing in Romanticism and gothic fiction.  Her publications include two books from Cambridge:  De Quincey's Romanticism, and Fictions and Fakes.  She is currently at work on a memoir/cultural history of teaching English literature in Istanbul, as well as two edited essay collections.  Her talk on the Xanadu Project is part of an essay series on Romanticism and media theory.

Brent S. Sirota is Associate Professor of History at North Carolina State University. He is the author of The Christian Monitors: The Church of England and the Age of Benevolence, 1680-1730 in addition to a number of articles and book chapters. He is currently writing a book on the sacred and secularization in eighteenth-century Britain, as well as co-editing a volume of essays on the Hanoverian Succession in Great Britain and its Empire.

Kathleen Wilson is Distinguished Professor in History and Past President of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies. In addition to numerous peer-reviewed articles, her books include  The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785The Island Race: Englishness Empire and Gender in the Eighteenth Century; and A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernity in Britain and the Empire 1660-1840 . She is a series editor of Critical Perspectives on Empire for Cambridge University Press, has been awarded fellowships from the John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Huntington Library, among others.