London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Jonathan Sachs, Online Seminar, Friday 19 November 2021

The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will take place via Zoom on Friday 19 November 2021 at 17.30-19.30 London time (GMT). As our distinguished guest speaker, we are delighted to welcome Professor Jonathan Sachs of Concordia University, Montreal, who will present a paper entitled Slow Time: Romanticism, Media, and Mobility. This will be followed by a discussion in which questions from the audience are invited. The seminar will be chaired by David Duff (Queen Mary, University of London).

The seminar is free and open to everyone. Prior registration is necessary. To book a place via the Institute of English Studies website, click here. When you register, you will be provided with a Zoom link and details of how to join the online forum. Whether you wish to contribute or simply to listen in, we invite you to join us.

Jonathan Sachs is Professor of English at Concordia University, Montreal. He is the author of The Poetics of Decline in British Romanticism (2018), Romantic Antiquity: Rome in the British Imagination, 1789-1832 (2010) and, with the Multigraph Collective, Interacting with Print: Elements of Reading in the Era of Print Saturation (2018). He has also completed, with Andrew Stauffer, a new one-volume edition of Byron’s major works for the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the National Humanities Center.

Regarding the subject of his paper, Jonathan writes:

‘How do we understand the novelty of Romantic temporality? Those living through the period often pointed to a felt sense of acceleration, as when Wordsworth singled out the “rapid communication” of news and eventfulness as characteristic of the Romantic media environment. New efficiencies in coach travel—and eventually the railway—certainly made it possible for news and people to move more quickly than ever before. But this was also a period where geology and the earth sciences developed new ideas of gradual change and the slow movement of time. My talk suggests that Romantic temporality can be characterized through the contrast between these two different orders of time: the accelerated time of media and mobility and the “deep time” of geology, which underscored not how quickly things were moving but how slowly. This temporal contrast registers clearly in Romantic writing, so much of which places a moral and polemical emphasis on the slow while still acknowledging the speed of contemporary life and especially its media of communication. After an informal overview of these temporal questions, I develop my thinking about Romantic time through two case studies, one on Wordsworth’s reading and another on De Quincey’s walking (in honour of the 200th anniversary of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater).’