See what Mid Mod is up to in 2014-2015!

There’s another exciting year ahead for the Middle Modernity Group! We’re kicking off the semester with a talk by Professor Anna Kornbluh (University of Illinois at Chicago). Additional plans include a second faculty and dissertator panel, as well as a continuation of last year’s film festival. In addition, we have a wonderful lineup of speakers who will visit our campus in the fall and spring semesters — be sure to check out our “Events” page and to visit again in the near future for news and updates.

And please join us on Wednesday, September 24 for our first reading group of the year! (Details can be found under “Events.”)

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Professor James Chandler’s Upcoming Talk: Thursday, April 10

The Middle Modernity Group is pleased to announce Professor James Chandler’s upcoming talk, “The Melodramatic Imagination Revisited.” We hope to see you on Thursday, April 10th at 4:00 p.m. in Helen C. White 7191 for this exciting event. Below, you’ll find a description of Professor Chandler’s lecture:

It has been almost forty years since Peter Brooks released his pathbreaking and influential book, The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, and the Mode of Excess (1975). Over these decades, and partly on account of Brooks’ important arguments, melodrama has not only undergone critical rehabilitation; it has also become perhaps the most important category for those who would link twentieth-century cinema with the century that came before them. But melodrama’s mode of excess has deep connections with a sentimental mode of moderation that features emotion mediated by reciprocal sympathy. The sentimental, it can be demonstrated, both set the conditions for melodrama’s emergence around the time of the French Revolution and continued to co-exist with melodrama through figures like Mary Shelley and Dickens and into the age of cinema. The kind of story Brooks wishes to tell, in short, becomes richer and more complex when melodrama’s manichaean extremes of character, gesture, and style are understood to evolve from, and with, the moderating effects of putting oneself in the place of the other.

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Professor Anne-Lise François’ upcoming talk: Monday, March 24

The Middle Modernity Group is pleased to announce Professor Anne-Lise François’ upcoming talk, “Profaning Nature: Enclosures, Occupations, Rights of Way.” We hope to see you on Monday, March 24th at 4:00 p.m. in Helen C. White 7191 for this exciting event. Below, you will find a more detailed description of Professor François’ research:

Anne-Lise François is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes on 19th-century British, American and European fiction, poetry and thought, with some excursions into the 17th, 18th, and early 20th centuries, European “Green” Romanticism and aesthetic theory. Her first book, Open Secrets (Stanford 2008), seeks to identify alternatives to Enlightenment models of heroic action, productive activity, and accumulation, and to identify examples of the ethos of recessive fulfillment and non-actualization. She is at present working on a book length study of poetic form and environmental theory. Her current book project, “Provident Improvisers: Parables of Subsistence from Wordsworth to Benjamin,” focuses on figures of pastoral worldliness, provisionality, and commonness (with “common” understood in the double sense of the political antithesis to enclosure and of the ordinary, vernacular, or profane).

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Professor David Brewer’s upcoming talk: Thursday, March 6

The Middle Modernity Group is pleased to announce Professor David Brewer’s upcoming talk, “The Importance of Being Inhuman.” We hope to see you on Thursday, March 6th at 4:00 p.m. in Helen C. White 7191 for this exciting event. Below, you will find a more detailed description of Professor Brewer’s lecture:

This talk will explore the ways in which, in the eighteenth century, authors were routinely and widely treated as if they were something other than fully human, and how this treatment, far from being a moral outrage, was what enabled the literary world to function. I propose that these attempts to impute alternate forms of personhood to writers can serve as a sort of vernacular theory which lays bare the underlying presumptions, structures, and proclivities of eighteenth-century literary culture as a whole.

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Professor Elsie Michie’s upcoming talk: Thursday, November 14

The Middle Modernity Group is pleased to announce Professor Elsie Michie’s upcoming talk, “The Trollopes’ Serial Family Plots.” We hope to see you on Thursday, November 14 at 4:00 p.m. in Helen C. White 7191 for this exciting event. Below, you will find a more detailed description of Professor Michie’s lecture:

This lecture argues that when read as a series Frances Trollope’s One Fault (1840) and Anthony Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right (1869) allow us to grasp key shifts in the conception of human relations and identity that took place in the middle decades of the nineteenth-century. Both novels depict the collapse of a marriage, where questions of dominance and submission fracture the possibility of harmonious relations between husband and wife. Both also reference Reform Acts, Frances’s that of 1832, Anthony’s that of 1864. If we read these novels serially, rather than through the more familiar model of influence, we see the terms that appear in one reflected and transformed in the other. As the titles of the two suggest, Frances’s novel makes visible the emphasis on faults in Anthony’s, and his makes visible the emphasis on rights in hers. Read as iterations of each other, the two allow us to trace the shifts that took place in legal thinking about matrimonial cruelty and psychological responsibility over the middle decades of the nineteenth century and to link that narrative about marriage, so central to the Victorian novel, to the evolving discourse about human rights associated with reform.
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Welcome back!

The Middle Modernity Group is looking forward to the exciting year ahead of us! Our plans include a faculty panel on the impact of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century studies in various public debates. In addition, we have a wonderful lineup of speakers who will visit our campus in the fall and spring semesters. Check back in the near future for news about these and other events.

And please join us on Wednesday, September 11 for our kickoff meet-and-greet! (Details can be found on our Events Calendar.)

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