Workshops and Events
Up to 75 traditional concurrent panel sessions (each running 75 minutes in length) will be featured during the conference, with opportunity for question/response and discussion included. In addition, the following programs are planned:
An open conference (“unconference”) session with breakout groups will address the topic: Teaching Romanticism Now: What Matters Most?
Gregory Kucich, “Romantic Era Drama and the Contact Zone of the Classroom Stage: Hannah Cowley’s A Day in Turkey, or the Russian Slaves”
Attendees of this Master Class should come planning to talk, argue, act, shout, and dance! As studies of the cultural significance of romantic era theatre continue to proliferate in ways that make it essential to include this genre in classes on Romanticism, it has become increasingly important to address effective ways of teaching plays. Crucial to that aim is the need to engage with plays as both texts and staged theatrical works acted out within a complex, often rambunctious material context—the romantic era playhouse. This Master Class will model that dual approach by functioning as an actual classroom event, featuring modes of critical interpretation that combine textual analysis with stage action. Meta-commentary on pedagogical and stage directorial options will punctuate the classroom conversation. Central topics for conversation and histrionics will include: romantic era stage practice; the material context of the period’s theatre and the structure of the theatrical evening; the historical and geopolitical contexts informing romantic era drama in general and this play in particular; the politics of gender and the French Revolution; contact zone experience and women’s cosmopolitanism, its promise and limits. We’ll have a lot of fun with this great play, set in a Turkish harem. Bring your acting shoes!
Master Class participants should read Cowley’s play (available here) and bring the text (see link to the 1792 Dublin edition, which we will use). Recommended, but not required secondary reading:
Kucich, Greg. “Women’s Cosmopolitanism and the Romantic Stage: Cowley’s A Day in Turkey,” Transnational England: Home and Abroad. Ed. Monika Class and Terry F. Robinson. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. 22-40.
Peter Manning, “Wordsworth in Youth and Age”
This session focuses on the encounter between youth and age that will be familiar to any reader of Wordsworth’s poetry. Poems such as Simon Lee and Resolution and Independence dramatically exaggerate a contrast between two characters. This strategy for working through Wordsworth’s uncertainties between childhood and an unknown future became less available as the poet aged and became a public figure. The “I” of the poetry, increasingly identified with the author himself, could no longer plausibly speak through the naïf. At fifty and more and the sage of Rydal Mount Wordsworth could not keep repeating the opposition between charged childhood and fantasized old age that had animated much of his most powerful work.
In accord with the pedagogical aims of the session, I will focus on two early poems centered on this opposition, The Fountain and The Two April Mornings, trusting that their familiarity will encourage participation. The Birket Foster illustrations from the 1859 Routledge Poems of William Wordsworth will point discussion, and may be useful for others’ teaching hereafter. I will pass from these to one of Wordsworth’s last and little-known poems, To an Octogenarian (1846), to contrast the older Wordsworth’s treatment of age. (handouts provided)
Karen Swann, “Learning to Teach by Teaching Jerusalem”
This class is for Blake devotees, but also for anyone who has ever contemplated teaching Blake’s Jerusalem to undergraduates, whether or not the impulse was realized, and for those who teach or would like to teach Blake’s shorter prophetic works. Our discussion will involve a lot of practical thinking about how Jerusalem—challenging for its difficulty, length, and the amount of contextualization it seems to demand—might be approached in the classroom. But our strategizing will need to anticipate in advance the work’s resistance to our exegetical and analytical efforts—and the resistance that students almost inevitably have to reading it. The premise of the class is that thinking about teaching Jerusalem can help us imagine a pedagogy that does not override, dismiss, or too quickly try to relieve the bafflement that much Romantic poetry produces in many of its undergraduate readers, but instead recognizes this discomfort as crucial to the way the poetry we care about enlists us. Poems can be rather like Blake’s Albion, Los’s impossible friend who seems to make a point of trying his patience beyond measure: in what ways can our pedagogy open the classroom to the volatile responses that “impossible” poetry, which might ultimately include much of the poetry we regularly teach, provokes?
Participants need not have read Jerusalem recently! Our discussion will begin by focusing on plate 3, “To the Public,” and plate 4, the first page of Chapter 1: here is the link to the Blake Archive Jerusalem page.
Participants who have taught Jerusalem or any of the shorter prophetic works are encouraged to bring in strategies or assignments that have worked and/or have failed miserably (I will try to bring in some of both).
I most often teach Jerusalem in an upper-level seminar on Blake, for which I assign a packet of readings that changes from year to year. Over the years, though, I have found the following essays especially helpful in sparking broader discussions about Blake’s works’ appeal and power to frustrate: in the beginning of the course, Mike Goode’s “Blakespotting” (PMLA 121:3 (2006): 769-86; and then, when taking up the “Public Address” and just before moving into Jerusalem, Paul Mann’s “Apocalypse and Recuperation: Blake and the Maw of Commerce” (ELH 52, 1 (Spring 1985), 1-32. There’s no need to read it before we meet, but here’s a link to the latter essay.
- NINES director Andrew Stauffer and Cambridge University Press’ Linda Bree will offer a seminar on “Current Trends in Academic Publishing.”
- Marilyn Gaull, of the BU Editorial Institute, will host panels on current scholarly editions of Romantic texts and on book reviewing in the field.
- The Houghton Library will mount an exhibition of Romantic-related pieces during the conference.
- Live musical performers (flute and piano) will serenade us during a Friday afternoon Romantic-themed musical performance.
- Our Saturday banquet, at the George Sherman Union, will also include a DJ spinning the dance music of your choice!