The way English is structured as a discipline encourages academics to focus their research on a particular period. Very few students attempt PhD topics which span several hundred years, and job advertisements and publishers’ catalogues also act as deterrents against a more transhistorical approach. Interdisciplinary approaches, by contrast, are welcomed, including those which involve research in areas remote from literature such as medicine, but if you claim to have something to say about Chaucer and Shakespeare and Tennyson you may be viewed with suspicion.
People are quick to note that a transhistorical piece is less likely to exhibit the same complete expertise in all literary periods as a specialist, historicist approach. This is true, but it is also true that the historicist critic may overlook the influence of a much earlier text, and that this oversight may prevent that critic from grasping a work’s full significance.
This one day colloquium is being jointly organised by Berit Åström (Umeå) and Sarah Annes Brown (Anglia Ruskin). It is aimed at anyone working in the field of English literature (or related disciplines) who has interest or experience in transhistorical research. The proceedings will include both formal papers and workshops/discussion sessions.
If you would like to offer a paper (20 minutes) please send an abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 June 2010. We welcome papers which either exemplify transhistorical research or are reflections on the methodological challenges of such research.
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