International Conference on Romanticism
October 14-16, 2021 | Charleston, SC
The notion of bonds has always had particular significance in Charleston, South Carolina, a city that bears the scars of being the capital of the American slave trade: in fact, forty percent of the enslaved Africans brought into the United States passed through Charleston’s harbor. For this reason, the International African American museum will open here in 2022, allowing for people across the world to rediscover their own histories and family connections. Read more.
Manu Samriti Chander is an Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark. He holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and a PhD from Brown University. His first monograph, Brown Romantics: Poetry and Nationalism in the Global Nineteenth Century (Bucknell, 2017), examined the appropriation of British Romantic tropes by colonial poets throughout the nineteenth century. He has also edited a collection of short fiction by the nineteenth-century Guyanese author, Egbert Martin (Caribbean Press, 2014), and co-edited, with Tricia A. Matthew, a special issue of European Romantic Review on generic experimentation in Romantic abolitionist literature. Professor Chander is currently working on The Collected Works of Egbert Martin, with the support of a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant, and developing a second monograph, Browntology, currently under contract with SUNY Press.
Deborah Jenson is Professor of Romance Studies and Research Professor of Global Health at Duke University. Her current work seeks to generate new questions about “long 19th century” French and Caribbean literature and culture from interdisciplinary angles including neuroscience that allow for the identification of additional or counter-archives. Her books include: Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution; Trauma and Its Representations: The Social Life of Mimesis in Post-Revolutionary France; and Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignty (with Warwick Anderson and Richard C. Keller). She has served as Director of the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and as co-director of the Brain & Society theme of the Bass Connections team research structure at Duke, and she co-founded and co-directed the Haiti Lab and the Health Humanities Lab. Currently, she is co-editing a special issue on “Representation in Neuroscience and Humanities” in Frontiers in Neuroscience with Marco Iacoboni and Len White, and working on a book manuscript, tentatively entitled A Neural Speculum Mundi: Essays on Global Mimesis. Recent courses have included Flaubert’s Brain: Neurohumanities; Mimesis in Theory and Practice; African Contemporary Philosophy (with Prof. Felwine Sarr); Pandemic Humanities; and Trauma and Global Mental Health in Haiti.
Stan Brown is the Inaugural W. Rockwell Wirtz Professor and Director of Graduate Studies of the MFA in Acting program at the School of Communication at Northwestern University. Stan earned his MFA in Acting from the University of South Carolina in 1989. While there, Stan was named a graduate acting fellow at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C., where he received the core of his classical actor training. Stan began his work in university teaching at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, where he taught acting and was a postgraduate researcher in Contemporary Shakespearean Performance (exploring director Peter Brook’s body of work with the Royal Shakespeare Company). Apart from his work as a teacher, voice/dialect coach, and director, Stan has worked as a professional actor for over 30 years in American and British theatre, film, television and radio. In 2015 Stan played the lead in the short film The Bespoke Tailoring of Mr. Bellamy. The film won the prestigious Louisiana Film Prize—the largest monetary prize in the world for short film—and was shortlisted for the Academy Award ballot. Stan also won the Louisiana Film Prize Best Actor award for his work.
ICR 2021 Committee Members
- Kathleen Béres Rogers, Department of English, College of Charleston
- Paula Feldman, Department of English, University of South
- Jesslyn Collins-Frohlich, Department of English, College of Charleston
- Lauren Ravalico, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, College of Charleston
- Amy Emm, Department of Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures, The Citadel
- Rebecca Nesvet, Department of English, University of Wisconsin at Green Bay
- Sandra Slater, Department of History, College of Charleston
Schedule of Events
Thursday Evening Panel
Charleston Bound: Encountering Ties between the City’s Past and Present
In Charleston, where a popular romantic imagination is all too often put to work in the whitewashing of history, scholars of Romanticism can bear witness to the real and material conditions that, as Debbie Lee contends in Slavery and the Romantic Imagination (2002), lie at the roots of Romantic discourse on freedom and revolution. During the late 18th to mid-nineteenth century, the years associated with Romanticisms across the globe, Charleston was known as the capital city of slavery. Approximately 40% of enslaved Africans brought to the United States were bound for Charleston. The white, upwardly mobile and elite population that inhabits the peninsula today is inversely almost matched by the number of black people living in bondage here in the 1790s. Charleston is marketed to thousands of tourists annually as a romantic destination of stately homes, garden walls and ornate iron gates. The historical truth: that these very features were built by enslaved artisans, erected to enclose work yards and to house minority whites who thrived off the economy of slavery, remains excluded from many city landmarks. This panel brings scholars and community members together to encounter the bonds between present day Charleston and the city’s past.
- Moderator: Dr. Bernard Powers, Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston, College of Charleston
- Christina Butler, Professor of Historic Preservation, American College of the Building Arts, Charleston
- Dr. Shannon Eaves, Assistant Professor of History, College of Charleston
- Rhoda Green, Director of the Barbados and Carolinas Foundation
- Harlan Greene, Author, Chair of the City of Charleston’s Historical Commission, Scholar in Residence, Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston
- Dr. Joe Kelly, Professor and Director of Irish and Irish American Studies, College of Charleston
- Dr. Felice Knight, Assistant Professor of History, The Citadel
Friday Morning Panel
“Unbinding the Canon”- ICR 2021 Special Session
In 1991, when the International Conference on Romanticism was founded, scholars of Romanticism had started to add women writers to their research and teaching. Paula Feldman’s Romantic Women Writers: Voices and Countervoices (1995); Anne Mellor’s Romanticism and Feminism (1998); and Harriet Linkin and Stephen Behrendt’s Romanticism and Women Poets: Opening the Doors of Reception (1999) worked to open the British Romantic canon to woman writers. French Romanticism saw the publication of Wendy Greenberg’s Uncanonical Women: Feminine Voice in French Poetry (1999), and in German Romanticism, Barbara Becker-Cantarino published Schriftstellerinnen der Romantik: Epoche, Werke, Wirkung (2000). In this special session, we would like to think through how far we have come in these thirty years: what are scholars of gender and Romanticism working on now? And what do we still have left to do? How can we be more intentionally intersectional? Anti-racist? Can we ever really unbind the canon?
- Moderator: Patricia Matthew, Associate Professor of English, Montclair State University
- Dr. Stephen Behrendt, Professor of English, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
- Dr. Catherine Burroughs, Professor of English, Wells College
- Dr. Aimée Boutin, Professor of French, Florida State University
- Dr. Paula Feldman, Professor of English, University of South Carolina
- Dr. Marjanne Goozé, Associate Professor of German, University of Georgia
by Manu Samriti Chander
Friday, October 15th from 3:00 – 4:15, Topaz Room
“Common Disaster”: Nineteenth-Century Kinship and the Social Heritage of Slavery
This lecture takes its title from a passage in W.E.B. Du Bois’s Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept (1940): “[S]ince the fifteenth century,” writes Du Bois, “these ancestors of mine and their other descendants have had a common history; have suffered a common disaster and have one long memory.” What Du Bois calls the “social heritage of slavery” binds disparate peoples from Africa “through yellow Asia and into the South Seas.” Professor Chander contrasts this form of cross-cultural kinship with the forms of familial relations available to those on the other side of the color line, focusing in particular on some of the most notorious agents of disaster in the nineteenth century: Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, famous for his theft of the Parthenon marbles; his son, James Bruce, who ordered the destruction of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing; and the Lord Elgin, the ship that carried the first indentured laborers from China to British Guiana, a journey during which 69 of the 154 laborers died of suffocation. Henry Barkly, then Governor of British Guiana, described the incident as “most disastrous…to all concerned.”
Halsey Exhibit: Crossed Looks
Friday, 10/15 from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Conference Participants will experience a curated walk-through of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston. The featured exhibit is Crossed Looks, the first solo exhibition of Swiss-Guinean artist Namsa Leubain the United States. The show will feature over 90 works from the photographer’s projects in Guinea,South Africa, Nigeria, and Benin, and it will premiere new work created in Tahiti. Namsa Leuba’s images explore the fluid visual identity of the African diaspora. With a dual heritage between Guinea and Switzerland, Leuba draws inspiration from her own experience growing up between two different cultural traditions.
Friday, 10/15 from 6:45 – 8:00 p.m. at the Sottile Theatre.
The Bespoke Tailoring of Mr. Bellamy
Starring Stan Brown. Brown will be discussing his performance after the screening and will be introduced by Dr. Paula Feldman.
“At the integration of the job market in 1964 Louisiana, a posting for a janitorial position at a local law firm and the discovery of an old sewing machine ignites a buried passion in old Bellamy.”IMDB.com
“The beautiful, deftly-told story of a man’s inspired preparation for an interview is the kind of movie you want to watch on a loop until your heart explodes.” Or this quote from Alexander Jeffrey, the film’s director: “[Bellamy] has an amazing sense of optimism and the desire to create, and the world is telling him ‘no’.”Film reviewer Katie Calautti
by Deborah Jenson
Saturday, October 16th at 5:30
Fight Clubs: Bonds of Race Between the February 1848 Revolution and the April 1848 French Abolition of Slavery, as Made and Unmade through Douglass and Baudelaire
Much work has been done on Schoelcher, Bissette, and the 1848 abolition of slavery in the French colonies, yet much remains to be done on the gap of race in Romantic revolutionary discourses of what Sylvia Wynter has called “The producedness of Being.” This talk addresses the philosophical importance of phenomenological reversals of dehumanization in slavery, from Hegel and Dessalines, to 1830s Haitian short fiction, to Baudelaire’s revisiting of the critical fight scene between Frederick Douglass and Edward Covey in the prose poem “Let’s Beat Up the Poor.” The over-determination of class conflict in Baudelaire’s exemplary prose poem reveals social romantic catch 22’s to Douglass’s hard-won consciousness that he could be a slave in “form,” but no longer in “reality” after his fight. Parsing Romantic emancipatory ideology through translations and intertexts with La Vie de Frédéric Douglass highlights broken phenomenological links of the chain from the Haitian Revolution to French abolitionism to (black) Marxism to critical race theory. What sources and questions can guide scholars of Romanticism to the phenomenological depths of Douglass’s movement from enslaved form to self-construed reality?