London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Marc Porée, Friday 19 October 2018, Senate House, London

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The first seminar in the 2018-19 series of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will take place on Friday 19 October 2018 at 5.30 in the Bloomsbury Room (G35) at Senate House, University of London. To launch the new series, we are delighted to welcome Marc Porée, Professor of English Literature at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). A renowned scholar, critic and translator, Marc is also Paris Director of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar. His talk, entitled A Grammar of Surprise, will be followed by a discussion and wine reception.

As with all our events, the seminar is free and open to everyone, including postgraduates and members of the public. No registration is necessary.

Marc Porée is an alumnus of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he teaches British literature. He also teaches at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle and is currently Vice-President of the Société d’Études du Romantisme Anglais. His publications includes articles on British Romanticism, on Victorian novelists and poets, and on British contemporary fiction and poetry. He co-authored a critical study, La Différence en partage, on the Lyrical Ballads (PUF, 2011). He also translates (Ann Radcliffe, Byron, De Quincey, Conrad) and has recently completed the three-volume edition of R.L. Stevenson’s fictional œuvre with Gallimard.

Regarding the subject of his talk, Marc writes:

‘“A Grammar of Surprise” is part of a larger on-going project that purports to account for Romantic texts grammatically. Besides revisiting the topos of poetry as syntax, as “Articulate Energy” (Donald Davie), the aim is to approach the Romantic material by way of broad grammatical categories, constructions and usages. The latter should lend themselves to neo-Wittgensteinian “Investigations” of a poetical, rather than an exclusively philosophical nature. Ideally, the conclusion arrived at should intersect with the findings of the French philosopher Vincent Descombes who, against erroneous definitions of the “subject” as a conceptually transparent and sovereign self, focuses instead on its agentivity, i.e. its capacity to act or be acted upon – to be complemented in plain grammatical English (cf. Le complément de sujet, Gallimard, 2004).

By way of illustration, and for the sake of brevity, my paper will address only a side-issue : the grammar of surprise. Spoilers aside, it can safely be assumed that the paper will be starting from John Keats’s memorable axiom (“Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity, it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance”) and build upon this so as to cover a range of variously syntactic, lexical, epistemic, emotional modalities of Romantic “mirativity” (Scott Delancey).’

We hope you can join us for this unique and exciting event.

David Duff (London Director, London-Paris Romanticism Seminar)