Call for Papers: abstracts July 15 2019, completed essays January 15 2020.
The Inexhaustible Gathering: Assembly and its Other in German Romantic Literature, Science, and Society
The very first page of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason harbors the stakes and rationale of a collection of essays dealing with the topic of “assembly and its other” in German romantic literature, science, and society. There, Kant cautions the remark that “it is quite possible that our empirical knowledge is an assemblage [ein Zusammengesetztes] of that which we receive through impressions and that which the faculty of cognition supplies from itself” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Meiklejohn, 1). A startling prospect frequently sheltered under the umbrella-term “Kant’s Copernican Revolution,” the idea that experience has always already comingled with the subject’s cognitive abilities leaves in its wake an uneasy mixture of creative exhilaration and what Lukács would call “transcendental homelessness” (Lukács, Theory of the Novel, trans. Bostock, 41, 61) It is indeed the creative imagination that would be called upon to straddle the divide between experience and cognition; and since no praxis, however creative, can be assured of its meaning without a theory to place it into a dialectic of theory and praxis, aesthetics—the discourse charged with the task of mediating between sense perception and meaning—is itself assembled and made to comingle with the artistic production that, in the wake of Kant, is commonly referred to as “romantic.” The space of imaginative production opened up by Kant is not, however, limited to a domain insulated from scientific and social concerns. Indeed, aesthetics, following Marc Redfield, “has relatively little to do with, for instance, technical aspects of literary composition, and everything to do with such large protopolitical matters as the definition of the human, the possibility of judgment without rule, or the perception of psychic, natural, social, and cosmic harmony” (Politics of Aesthetics, 11-12). We welcome contributors with the interest of elucidating the establishment, mapping, and interrogation of this multivalent, and by necessity interdisciplinary, “harmony.”
“Assembly and its other” is irreducible to a rigidly dichotomous relationship. The “other” of assembly is not simply its antonym; it is rather the principle of disarticulation that must accompany all attempts—whether artistic, philosophical, social, or scientific—to construct the porous and provisional discursive and aesthetic objects that both respond to and reflect an ever more contingent historical horizon. The inflection points of such (dis)assembly are copious. Whether it is Novalis’ attempt to write a romantic encyclopedia, Friedrich’s Schlegel’s expansive ideal of universal progressive poetry, the emergence of the novel as an assemblage of discursive forms, the German appropriation and refashioning of ancient Greece, the construction and theorization of subjectivity or psychic life, the inexhaustible nature of such a list betrays the contingent, arbitrary, and therefore historical nature of romantic assembly
In the wake of the International Conference on Romanticism at Clemson University in 2018, we welcome proposals for papers on any aspect of "romantic assembly" and/or its other. Please send inquiries and proposals of 300 words by July 15, 2019 to Robert Mottram ([log in to unmask]) and Christopher Clason ([log in to unmask]).
"Et si male nunc, non olim sic erit" (Though things are bad now, they will not always be so).
--- Horace, Odes, ii. 10