2014-2015 Seminar Series

Each academic year, the various projets de recherche with IDEA hold seminars relevant to their interdisciplinary projects. While the themes of these seminars change, they represent the main research thrusts of the team on the whole.

For the academic year 2014-2015, IDEA offered the following lectures as part of its “Seminar Series.”

Jeudi, 20 Novembre 2014
18h-20h, salle A168 (Nancy)
“‘Secular Spirituality’ and the Institutionalisation of English as a Discipline from the Late 18th to Early 20th Centuries”
Matthew Smith,
Université de Lorraine
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In a 1996 essay entitled ‘Dinosaur Culture: from Mansfield Park to Jurassic Park’ Paul Lauter uses a reference by Lionel Trilling to ‘secularized spirituality’ as a starting point for an incisive discussion of post-New Criticism academic practices in cultural analysis. This discussion questions, as its title suggests, the literary canon as it was still defined by Trilling and mid-20th century English studies. Beyond this, the article probes the challenges of moving beyond the ‘objective’ approaches dominant at Trilling’s time and associated with New Criticism, the earlier ‘Practical Criticism’ of an I. A. Richards or other Anglo-Saxon critical approaches to literature stressing an almost sacred separateness of the artistic work from such vulgar considerations as authorial intention, reader reception, or historical, cultural, socio-economic or political context. For Lauter, rejecting such sacred separateness, Trilling’s chapter on Mansfield Park in The Opposing Self (1955) is ‘one more elaboration on Trilling’ s characteristic theme: how the “moral life,” as Austen was the “first” to show, is “so complex and difficult and exhausting”. At twenty-one, I did not find it particularly so. Nor could I see why one would, as he wrote, feel a “necessity . . . to demonstrate the purity of our secular spirituality,” whatever exactly that meant.’
The apparent oxymoronic opacity of Trilling’s ‘secular’ or ‘secularized’ ‘spirituality’ is fair game for Lauter’s analysis of a transition to post-New Criticism academic practices. At the same time, it is probably true to say that in using this particular formula Trilling engaged with an unspoken premise of the dominant literary critical thinking of his era with more lucidity than many of his contemporary academics. Indeed, in the context of The Opposing Self in which it is used, Trilling actually implicitly historicizes the notion by attributing it to Hegel in the early 19th century. And in his way he confronts underlying late 19th and early to mid-20th-century assumptions about the status of ‘Culture’ as a necessarily undefined and mysterious transcendent entity capable of both binding societies together and healing the wounds of the individual soul.As the great age of New Criticism fades further into the past, in a period which historicist and ‘theorized’ approaches have become by and large the norm, the question of post-Arnoldian ‘Culture’ as alternative religion has perhaps come into sharper focus, with for example Terry Eagleton in his Culture and the Death of God (2014) expanding on earlier theses from his 1984 Introduction to Literary Theory, in which Eagleton identified the very founding of English as an institutionalized academic discipline in the 19th century in terms of substitute spirituality or secular opium of the people—albeit, for Eagleton, a much waterier and more innately problematic opium of the people than religion had ever been. Elsewhere, Steven Greenblatt has asserted that ‘literary criticism was, and largely remains, a kind of secular theodicy’ (‘Resonance and Wonder’, 1990) an intriguing variation on the concept. In this informal paper I seek to explore the role of ‘secularized spirituality’—and ‘whatever, exactly, that mean[s]’—from the point of view of the history of ideas between the late 18th and early 20th centuries, the material emergence of English as an academic discipline in Britain during that period, and the long shadow cast over the present and future of English studies by the circumstances of its birth.
Mardi, 25 Novembre 2014, 18h30-20h, salle A313 (Nancy)

« Le référendum d’autodétermination en Écosse bilan et perspectives »
Edwige Camp,
Université de Valencienneposter
Le 18 septembre 2014, les Écossais se sont prononcés en faveur du maintien de l’Écosse au sein du Royaume-Uni, au terme d’une longue campagne qui les a passionnés. Après avoir brièvement rappelé l’origine de cette consultation, Prof. Edwige Camp, auteur de L’Écosse et la tentation de l’indépendance. Le référendum d’autodétermination de 2014 publié cette année, évoquera les principaux thèmes (économiques) de la campagne, en terminant par une analyse des résultats. PHOTO EDWIGE CAMP PIETRAIN??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????DSC02523Pour un compte-rendu de l’événement, consultez: https://idea-udl.org/seminars/2014-15/scottish-seminars-2014-2015/
Mercredi, 18 Mars 2015, 18h30-20h, salle A313 (Nancy)

“À quoi ressemble l’Écosse dans l’imaginaire populaire du XXIe siècle ?”

Marie-Odile Hedon,
Université Aix-Marseille

Etienne Duval,
Journaliste (BBC, Europe 1, La Cinq, TV5, RTBF et RTS…)

 Ce deuxième séminaire s’interroge sur l’aura de l’Écosse dans le monde à travers les arts et les médias. Deux cents ans après la publication du premier roman historique par Walter Scott, Waverley, et l’ouverture du pays à un tourisme de masse, friand d’une image écossaise de carton pâte faite de montagnes sauvages et de lacs peuplés de Highlanders en kilt qui avancent au son de la cornemuse et boivent du whisky, qu’en est-il de l’image de l’Écosse en littérature, dans la peinture, à la télévision et au cinéma, c’est-à-dire dans l’imaginaire populaire? L’Écosse est-elle associée au mythe romantique et donc réduite à une coquille vide? Qu’est-ce qui caractérise l’Écosse aujourd’hui aux yeux du monde et à travers les œuvres contemporaines ?poster scottish seminarPour un compte-rendu et enregistrement de l’événement, consultez: https://idea-udl.org/seminars/2014-15/scottish-seminars-2014-2015/
 Lundi, 27 Avril 2015, 17h – 19h, sale A331B (Nancy)

“Pigeons and Prejudice: Notes on the Social Conditioning of Knowledge”

Philip Riley, Université de Lorraine (emeritus)

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This report on some work in progress in the historical sociology of knowledge will mainly focus on certain intellectual and social developments in Great Britain during the long nineteenth century. Topics which will be mentioned include:

  •  physiognomy and phrenology, novelistic style and Darwinian rhetoric;
  •  empiricism, the problem of social order and the modern fact ;
  •  ideal types (e.g. The Stranger, The Strategist, The Scientist, the Ethnic Group, The Angel in the House …).