Date: 18-19th January 2006, Venue: Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham, UK
This conference starts with the premise that the writers, artists and critics of the later-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries were working with a well-defined historical sense. Many were historians, historicists, antiquarians and philosophers of history, consistently engaging with models of history and historical process, and interrogating the past and its construction in the present in cogent and philosophically-assured ways. It also begins by saying that comparisons of the literature and the visual arts with the historiography and the philosophy of history of the period have so far been under-theorised, due at least in part to the perceived discordance of the practices employed by these different disciplines and the desire to read the arts and literatures of Aestheticism, Decadence and Modernism through their own, often acute, anti-historicism. As a result, the depth of the connection remains unplumbed. There remain gaps, holes and silences: How precisely is the past and historical modelling used in the text and image of the period? What attempts are there at ‘modernist’ or ‘aestheticist’ history and historiography and how do these attempts ground themselves epistemologically? How might the methods of our own present thinking help us in re-conceptualising more fruitfully the relationships between the art and philosophy of history within this period?
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