CFP: Monstrous Geographies, Lisbon, 22-24 March 2015

This inter- and multidisciplinary conference focuses on the relationship between the monstrous and the geographic. We welcome proposals by academics, teachers, independent researchers, students, artists, NGOs and anyone interested in manifestations of monstrosity in space.

About William the Bloody

Cat lover. 18C scholar on the dialogue and novel. Co-convenor OGOM Project
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0 Responses to CFP: Monstrous Geographies, Lisbon, 22-24 March 2015

  1. firekrank says:

    Noticing how many conferences/ books there are on Gothic spaces/ geographies/ locating the Gothic. Really interesting stuff! In order to amuse myself I hashed out a hypothetical paper on the relationship between the Gothic and Capability Brown’s faux-natural landscapes.

    Also suggests that ecocriticism is starting to have an impact on other modes of literary studies.

    • Give us a taste of the hypothetical paper, Kaja! As to the impact of ecocriticism, I sincerley hope not! But I’m not going to start an argument 🙂

      • firekrank says:

        It’s less a hypothetical paper and more a series of bullet points but I will give it a go. (Also, yeah ecocriticism. It’s validating my whole theoretical approach).

        Very briefly then, I would argue that there is a relationship between the work of Capability Brown and the landscapes he was creating and the representation of Gothic nature within the novels of Ann Radcliffe. Radcliffe’s texts present a version of nature that is torn between the sublime and the horrific (thinking about her pathetic fallacy particularly). Her representation of nature, like the texts in general, has a veneer of authenticity as it is located in an unverifiable past. However, the Gothic nature of Radcliffe’s novels has no real life precedent and is instead controlled from behind the scenes by the author. Whilst there may be storms and craggy mountains, ultimately, we are in safe hands and everything ends happily.

        In comparison, Capability Brown’s move away from ordered gardens to a more romantic landscape suggests that he was trying to reconnect with an authentic version of nature. However, what he is actually doing is creating nature as he wants it to be – idealised and beautiful. What looks to be a beautiful, natural landscape replete with grottos and waterfalls has no relationship with the history of the land. It is transplanting the ‘real’ version of nature with one that exists for man’s pleasure alone.

        Interestingly, Brown uses the language of literature to describe how he gardens:”‘Now there’ said he, pointing his finger, ‘I make a comma, and there’ pointing to another spot, ‘where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon; at another part, where an interruption is desirable to break the view, a parenthesis; now a full stop, and then I begin another subject'” (Quoted in Peter Willis, “Capability Brown in Northumberland” Garden History 9.2 (Autumn, 1981, pp. 157–183) p. 158). He reads the landscape and makes it a text that can be controlled within set rules. Many descriptions of his work describe it as ‘nature perfected’.

        Gothic nature is something which seems uncontrolled and terrible but is actually a man-made nightmare: it is nature without man’s control. This presentation of nature fits within wider ideologies regarding civilizing and culturing the wilderness and savage landscapes.

        So, it’s not much but I reckon I could expand it to 3000 words with judicious use of quotations and theory. This is essentially me noodling around with theories and ideas.

        (I also plan to write about ‘Nordicism’ as the new Orientalism and, a searing critique of how contemporary health fads are making the obesity crisis worse which will be called ‘Fat is a Class Issue).

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