Scholars discuss Romantic catastrophes

The 2012 International Conference on Romanticism gathered hundreds of Romanticism experts for a four-day conference at the Tempe campus.

The conference, which commenced Thursday, will conclude Sunday.

English professors Ron Broglio and Mark Lussier, the University Senate director, organized the event. Other participants include ASU undergraduate and graduate volunteers.

English senior lecturer Cajsa Baldini, the conference’s volunteer coordinator, said about 36 volunteers have helped set up the event.

Besides helping with registration tasks, some volunteers will shadow and assist the international scholars.

Several volunteers assisting the scholars know foreign languages and will be able to help the speakers in their language, Baldini said.

“I am really pleased to find out the great versatility and skill they bring as volunteers,” she said. “Language skills, students who are great at technology, they have all sorts of qualities that become very useful to the conference. We really have a great backup for this conference.”

Lussier said they chose to examine catastrophes because it’s novel. He said both the time period and the writers in it experienced catastrophes. Romantic literature and culture emerged in Europe from 1780 to 1830, but can also be broadened from 1750 to 1850, Lussier said.

“It’s a period of war (and) ecological disasters of various sorts. It’s a very turbulent economic period,” Lussier said. “It’s an age of political evolution. It’s an age of poetic evolution and scientific revolution.”

It is a shift away from reason-oriented philosophy, poetry and novels to a new structure of feelings driven by imagination rather than reason, he said.

The event will consist of three plenary panels, in which speakers will introduce their concepts and have an open discussion with the audience.

Speakers include English professors from Boston College, Dickinson College, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Zurich, Boston University and ASU.

Each day, scholars and speakers will address their area of expertise during multiple simultaneous sessions. Attendees can choose the sessions they attend.

Graduate students can receive a first and second place prize for having the best paper at the conference.

The contest, which was held prior to the event, required graduate students to write a 10-page paper. The winners will be recognized during the conference’s banquet Saturday.

English professor Ron Broglio said each generation has its own view of the past and this conference allows attendees to learn different viewpoints.

“We get a reading or temperature for the state of the field today, what people are thinking about the past — about these historical figures and its art,” Broglio said.

The event will be held at the Memorial Union and those interested in attending exclusive sessions such as the banquet can register late online or in person.

There are several variations on pricing, but students qualify for a discount. Other sessions are open to the public, but priority seating will go to those who have registered.


Reach the reporter at or on Twitter @jackiecsolis

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