London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Martin Procházka, 13 January 2017, Senate House, London


The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will be held on Friday 13 January 2017 in the Bloomsbury Room (G35) in Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30. Our distinguished guest speaker is Martin Procházka of Charles University, Prague, a leading international scholar of Romanticism and an acclaimed literary and cultural theorist. His talk, entitled The Phantasmal Imagination: Biographia Literaria and Continental Philosophy, will be followed by a discussion and a wine reception to which all are invited. Admission is free.

Martin Procházka, FEA, is Professor of English, American and Comparative Literature and the Head of the Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Charles University, Prague. His books include Romanticism and Personality (1996, in Czech), on Romantic subjectivity and its forms in Coleridge’s and Byron’s poetry; Transversals (2008), a collection of essays on Romanticism as the first pluralistic project of modern culture and its dilemmas of freedom and determinism, cultural identity and hybridity, nomadism and “imagined communities”; Ruins in the New World (2012), an alternative cultural history of the U.S.A. focusing on apocalyptic thought and imagination and their impact on the uses of ruins, especially the ghost towns of the American West; and Romanticism and Romanticisms (2005, in Czech), a co-authored volume which presents a pluralistic comparative approach to West European, American and Czech Romanticism using a Foucauldian theory of discourse. He is the founding editor of the peer-reviewed academic journal Litteraria Pragensia: Studies in Literature and Culture (published continuously since 1991), a Trustee of the International Shakespeare Association and a member of the Advisory Board of the International Association of Byron Societies. A former Visiting Professor at the Universities of Bristol and Glasgow, he currently holds visiting appointments at the Universities of Kent and Porto.

Regarding the topic of his talk, Martin writes:

‘It is an attempt to view the theory of imagination in a different perspective: no longer as a principal component of Romantic aesthetics, but as a discursive strategy characterized by a transversal movement from philosophical concepts to simulacra and phantasms, a movement “by which the ego opens itself to the surface and liberates the a-cosmic, impersonal and pre-individual singularities which it had imprisoned” (Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense). The major effect of this movement is “the intensity of unifying visions”, which is “given neither by individual perceptions, nor by their sum” but rather by “difference in general”, distinguished from mere “diversity or otherness” (Deleuze, Difference and Repetition). Seen in this perspective, Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria (1817) displays a tendency to arrest the transversal working of imagination and transform this creative power into a foundation of an aesthetic and, ultimately, political ideology.’

Please join us for this exciting event.