London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Ewan Jones, Friday 22 March 2024, Senate House, London

The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will take place on Friday 22 March 2024 in the Bloomsbury Room (G35, ground floor), Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30 pm. As our distinguished guest speaker, we are delighted to welcome Dr Ewan Jones of the University of Cambridge, who will deliver a paper entitled Habits of Inattention in Romantic Literature. This will be followed by a discussion and wine reception. The seminar will be chaired by Rowan Boyson (King’s College London).

The event is free and open to everyone, including postgraduates and members of the public. No booking is required.

Ewan Jones is Associate Professor at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow and Director of Studies at Downing College. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, residential fellow at the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study and visiting fellow at Ludwig Maximilian Universität, Munich, and Pomona College in California. He is the author of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Philosophy of Poetic Form (2014) and The Turn of Rhythm: How Victorian Poetry Shaped a Concept (2023), in addition to numerous articles on prosody, intellectual history and digital humanities in journals such as Critical InquiryELH and Representations. He is currently co-editing a book on close reading as attentional practice, to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2025. 

Regarding the topic of his paper, Ewan writes:

“We live, it is often asserted, in a distracted age. ADHD, the attention economy, the increasing demands of digital culture – all contribute to the sense of a pressing crisis for concentration. Humanistic inquiry – Michael Fried’s absorption serves as a case in point – is often taken to offer a respite to or refuge for such dispersal. But what if we were never not distracted? What if close reading could, instead of channelling our undivided attention, present us with more useful ways of dividing our attention? This talk will argue for just these propositions, charting the complex history of attention from René Descartes to Thomas Reid, distinguishing between visual and aural forms of cognitive focus, and concluding with a reading of romantic-era verse in terms of cognitive load and attentional bottlenecks.”