NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers

 

THE AESTHETICS OF BRITISH ROMANTICISM, THEN AND TODAY


7 June - 9 July 2010

University of Nebraska;
Lincoln, NE

 

 

 

Director: Stephen C. Behrendt, George Holmes Distinguished University Professor of English, University of Nebraska

Participant Stipend:  $3900

 

Stephen C. Behrendt's personal website

Studies in Romanticism at the University of Nebraska

 

Not Your Typical Seminar in Romanticism
                     but, then . . .
This is Not Your Usual Romanticism


— Inquiries and Questions Welcome ! Email me here and I’ll respond promptly.

 

Guide to this description (use your "Back" button to return to this directory)

The Seminar in Context
Background
Intellectual Rationale for the Seminar: Why Do This?
The Seminar, Your Project, and a Fascinating (and Fascinated) Cadre of Colleagues
Organization of Seminar Activities —A Tentative Schedule, with Topics
Seminar Faculty and Staff
Selection of Participants
Professional Development for Seminar Participants
Institutional Context for the Seminar; or, Five Weeks at the University of Nebraska
sbehrendt/projects/NEH2010/Housing, Parking, Facilities
Applications, Forms and Instructions



The Seminar Topic in Context

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,” John Keats famously wrote at the beginning of Endymion (1818); “its loveliness increases.” But what did Keats mean by “beauty”? Is “a thing of beauty” the same as “a beautiful thing”? And by “thing” did Keats mean some actual object, or was he thinking in more Lockean terms about the idea of an object? What about “joy”? Is it something inherent in the “thing of beauty” itself, or is it a function of its interaction with its audience’s individual and collective interaction with that thing? Furthermore, what is the relationship between that “joy” and the “loveliness” in Keats’s concluding phrase? And how, exactly, does that “loveliness” increase? When it comes to matters of aesthetics and judgments about valuation, as we all know, things can become very sticky indeed. We all have heard comments, at galleries and elsewhere, that “That’s not art; I could do that!” or “I know art when I see it.”

The question, then, is whether aesthetic discrimination is based upon intrinsic principles and characteristics or upon extrinsic “acculturation” and habits of response, upon objectively quantifiable criteria or upon person and ultimately subjective responses. More properly, what are the shifting relationships between these two apparent poles, and how ought we to negotiate those relationships, both in our scholarship and in our teaching of British Romanticism? Who decides about “value,” and under what circumstances and conditions? How is aesthetic “value” tied to social, economic, and moral “value”? And how might we best re-imagine, from our twenty-first-century perspective, the cultural milieu from which both art and criticism emerged in Romantic-era Britain? These and related questions about authority, standards, and artistic (and other) consumerism will be at the heart of this five-week NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers.

Scholarship, criticism, and literary theory concerned with the Romantic era in Great Britain (c.1780-1835) has historically reflected criteria of taste and aesthetic judgment that grew out of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century critical discourse and that became entrenched during the Victorian era and then codified increasingly narrowly by a conventionally-conceived twentieth-century academic establishment. That establishment routinely privileged as “the Romantics” a set of primarily male writers, mostly poets, whose works formed a “canon” that reflected that establishment’s constituency and curriculum. During the past two decades, projects to recover the lives and works of women authors and laboring-class writers of both sexes (as well as works of neglected men) have produced a dramatic reassessment of the Romantic-era literary and cultural community that is apparent in exciting recent revisionist studies that are redrawing the entire literary and cultural landscape. The altered nature of that new landscape dramatically underscores the need, now, systematically to reassess those aesthetic criteria and practices that produced the original narrow and historically skewed characterization of “Romantic literature.” Scholars must examine and reconsider both the terminology and dynamics of Romantic-era critical discourse itself and the associated modern critical, theoretical and demographic studies so that we may revise our inherited and often faulty impressions of the aesthetics relevant to Romantic literature. This seminar will help to position the participants at the “leading edge” of this revisionist activity.

— Background

“British Romanticism” once meant five male poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and sometimes Blake), one or two male novelists (Scott and William Godwin or James Hogg), and one female novelist (Jane Austen). Writing by most others was routinely deemed “minor” (a class-inflected aesthetic pejorative), for example, or categorized as “Jacobin” or “anti-Jacobin” (a patently political label), or “Gothic” (a moral and socio-political mis-categorization), or “lyric” (a tag that permitted anthologizers to notice women while implicitly disparaging their work). Contemporary scholarship now acknowledges subtle gradations in the intellectual, social, political, philosophical, economic, and artistic/aesthetic agendas that affected what was in reality a vast body of writers and readers.

Scholars are now examining not only the producers of this literary material (the writers) and its consumers (the diversifying readerships to which it was directed), but also the contemporary reviewers. Those self-appointed custodians of culture wielded the power and influence afforded them by the periodical press in which their reviews appeared (and in longer critical monographs) to attack or to promote writers, often for overtly partisan ideological purposes, while claiming the “high ground” of objective aesthetic judgment. Typically attributing their politically or intellectually reactionary agendas to some high “moral purpose” they routinely branded oppositional writers as “infidels” dealing in “disease,” “infection,” and “poison,” against which they declared it their moral duty to “inoculate” a supposedly vulnerable reading public.

Heavily influenced by issues of party, religion, economics and class, Romantic-era reviewing seeded the moral, intellectual, and artistic conservatism of the Victorian aesthetic that in turn shaped early twentieth-century opinion. The resulting male-dominated literary canon reflected the academic and cultural establishment that defined it and that largely excluded women and laboring-class citizens. Grounding aesthetic judgments in proto-Aristotelian terms and in ostensibly self-evident moral principles, this critical establishment privileged what conformed and excluded as inferior what did not. Much of women’s writing was thus marginalized and gradually disappeared from the public view, from the (college or university especially) classroom, and from the modern printed book/anthology that served it and the students who populated it. So too faded from view laboring-class writers and those of other national cultural identities (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, etc.) who could not be easily or conveniently read as “British” – i.e. as conventionally “English.”

— Intellectual Rationale for the Seminar: Why Do This?

This seminar revisits the subject of aesthetics both in its Romantic-era context and in relation to contemporary criticism and theory. What critical and aesthetic principles and criteria did Romantic-era commentators invoke and apply? How were they applied, to whom, and under what circumstances? What motives and consequences can we discern in the differing ways in which the writings of men and women of various classes and backgrounds were assessed in print? Did women reviewers proceed as men did, or were there class- and gender-inflected differences? Was P. B. Shelley’s claim in A Defence of Poetry (1821) that poetry (and art) is a subcategory of “morals” unique or widely shared? And what can such questions teach us about the evolution of the literary canon and its embedded systems of valuation? Are those traditional criteria still valid, still “useful,” given the now-altered portrait of the Romantic-era writing community? If not, what new terminology is required, and why? And how do we produce it? This five-week seminar addresses several imperatives. First is the need to re-imagine “Romantic literature” in terms of a writing community that involved not just a handful but many hundreds of publishing writers. Second is the need to factor in demographic data about authorship and readership presented in studies like William St Clair’s The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (2004), which places these in the context of the day-to-day business details of the publishing industry. Third is the need to reassess Romantic-era critical standards among writers ranging from canonical ones like Coleridge and William Hazlitt to non-canonical figures like the reviewers in the contemporary press. Some, like John Wilson Croker and Francis Jeffrey, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays, are relatively familiar, but the majority – many still anonymous – are not. Seminar participants will examine from primary archival and other documents the (often ideologically biased ) criteria of literary judgment that reviewers invoked to authorize critical pronouncements, and will juxtapose them with texts (some of them deliberately pre-emptive) in which authors wrote in advance to justify their practices and mitigate (or preclude) pejorative criticism.

To provide a clear intellectual “thread” for the seminar, we will work with a central core of common readings drawn from the Romantic era and from the present, including, for example, poems like Anna Letitia Barbauld’s Eighteen Hundred and Eleven (1812), Felicia Hemans’s Modern Greece (1817) and Shelley’s Adonais (1821), and of novels like William Godwin’s Caleb Williams (1794) and Jane West’s A Tale of the Times (1799), along with reviews from the period that illustrate the “standards” that reviewers were applying – or mis-applying. Will supplement these with readings in contemporary collections of Romantic-era critical writing on literature, the arts, and aesthetics like Mary Waters’s British Women Writers of the Romantic Period: An Anthology of their Literary Criticism (2008) and Donald Redman’s The Romantics Reviewed (1972). We will concurrently read in present-day scholarship, including theory, both to consider the consequences of applying “old” criteria to newly-recovered texts and to investigate new, alternative ways of assessing and valuing Romantic-era writing that take into fuller account the cultural and economic conditions that affected not just what was written but also how it was written. We will reconsider, for example, the validity of familiar qualitative terms like “good” as aesthetic markers and the feasibility of alternative terms (like “effective”) that acknowledge the fact that no work of art (literary or otherwise) is ever entirely free of rhetorical – and therefore public and political – implications, either for its creator or for its consumers. At the same time, we will try to stay in touch with perspectives furnished by twenty-first-century criticism and theory, which often sees things very differently indeed, as we see for example in Franco Moretti’s ideas about “distance reading.” We may wish to think about our subject in light of work by people like William St Clair (The Reading Nation, 2004), Clifford Siskin (The Work of Writing, 1998), Fiona Price (Revolutions in Taste, 1773-1818, 2009) and the contributors to Beth Lau’s Fellow Romantics (2009), to name only a few. More specific directions will emerge as the interests of individual seminar participants become clearer.

I welcome inquiries, expressions of interest, and of course applications from a broad cross-section of scholars whose work involves poetry and prose (including fiction and non-fiction, as well as drama) and whose interests may include either or both canonical and recently recovered authors; scholars and teachers interested in aesthetics and criticism generally; and colleagues from disciplines that one might at first consider to be outside “English” (like theatre history, art history and aesthetics). My goal is to achieve the maximum diversity of interest, expertise, and interaction. From such dynamic diversity – itself a hallmark of the Romantic era as it actually was – we shall begin the dialogue that is so vital for twenty-first-century scholarly and theoretical reassessments of the Romantic-era writing community.

— The Seminar, Your Project, and a Fascinating (and Fascinated) Cadre of Colleagues

This will be a “traditional” NEH Seminar that will include a broadly-defined research project as a central aspect of each participant’s work. I hope that each of you will arrive with a seminar project plan in hand; I will work with you in advance to mesh these as seamlessly as possible with our common objectives. You will read in advance some relevant excerpts from the set of common texts, including primary texts, contemporary reviews, and critical-aesthetic works like Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria (1817), Hugh Murray’s Morality of Fiction (1805), and Barbauld’s introduction to her 50-volume edition of The British Novelists (1810). These common readings will anchor our first week’s work, when participants will also briefly introduce their seminar projects. I will provide each of you, well in advance, with bibliographies, at least some of the texts, and some questions and considerations to think about as you prepare for the seminar. These common readings will anchor our first week’s work, when each of you will also briefly introduce your seminar project. I will set up an internet Listserv to facilitate exchanges among all of us, and I will help you explore options for publishing the results of your seminar project or posting other products of your work on line in relevant electronic journals and archives. Most of all, though, you’ll have a (rare) opportunity to spend five lively weeks with colleagues who “know the names” — who are all working with, thinking about, and teaching things that matter to each of us. That kind of community offers a wonderful, stimulating environment for working on projects among people with whom we can talk and exchange ideas. Too often, we feel isolated in our departments, in our institution, and in the profession; a seminar like this one facilitates connections and community that often lasts long after we go our separate ways at seminar’s end.

Pedagogy matters, too. Research and publication are of course central objectives in any NEH Seminar, but as a seasoned teacher I appreciate that most of us invest most of our professional time in teaching. I shall encourage you to explore the implications of your seminar work for your teaching, and I will provide you with access to the staff and resources of the University of Nebraska’s cutting-edge Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, where you can get professional advice and hands-on experience with the new technology and its applications for our classrooms.


— Organization of seminar activities – a tentative schedule, with topics

Overview: To assure maximum collegial interchange, each week will include three or four formal sessions (c. 3 hours each, typically 9:00 a.m. to noon, with additional sessions in the first and last week). Roughly two-thirds of these will involve focused discussion of the common readings and related activities, guided initially by questions distributed before the seminar begins. In the other sessions, discussion of your individual projects will aim at enriching and expanding our common critical ground. I will reserve time (and space) for non-required informal meetings among sub-groups whose projects share significant elements, and I’ll be happy to attend or assist with facilitating these meetings. Much of this collegial exchange will naturally be ad hoc and unscripted. Our seminar location (in the adjacent buildings of Andrews Hall [Department of English] and Love Memorial Library – and the nearby dormitories) assures plenty of daily opportunities for interaction. I shall maintain extensive daily office hours at times when no group sessions are scheduled, to provide whatever advice, consultation, or direction any of you may desire concerning your individual research and pedagogical projects. Finally, to foster the sense of community, there will be several organized social activities, including an opening reception in the English Department and at least one social gathering at my home.

General topics for investigation, by weeks:

WEEK 1: Full-group sessions: introductions — to each other, to our individual seminar projects and to the UNL library and microforms resources. Monday afternoon hands-on tour of library resources, conducted by the Humanities librarian. Beginning Tuesday: Comparing our assumptions and experiences about the seminar’s “common thread” of Romantic literature and aesthetics, and about standards, criteria and valuation both during the Romantic era and in subsequent literary history, based on advance reading from the common readings. The relation of demographic data about readerships and publishing (e.g., St Clair, Klancher) to the “business” of reviewing. Tentative ideas about the implications for our work as scholars and teachers of rethinking the aesthetics of Romanticism in more broadly inclusive terms.

WEEK 2: Full-group sessions: you’ll begin reporting on how your initial survey of library materials, including bibliographical, biographical, and technological resources relates to the common readings and your own project. Some specific areas of inquiry for full-group sessions: What issues arise from considering multiple genres? Do Coleridge’s objections to novels apply also to poems, and if so, to what sorts of poems? Is art a “moral” category, as Shelley suggests? How do we identify and define non-aesthetic “static” (e.g., political, religious, class and gender bias) in published reviews? Do Elizabeth Moody’s or Letitia Landon’s reviews exhibit aesthetic “agendas” that are fundamentally different from those of Francis Jeffrey or William Hazlitt? How do “modern” assumptions about aesthetics and reviewing influence how we read “period” documents, including “popular” novels? One very specific example to consider from multiple perspectives: the (very popular) Romantic-era sonnet, including what sonneteers wrote about their – and one another’s – sonnets, and how the critical establishment viewed them and their readers. A parallel case from prose fiction: the (equally popular) “romance” novel (including its Gothic variant) published especially by the Minerva Press in multi-volume sets and in brief chapbook redactions, including the comparable published criticism. When did the culturally-inflected split between “good” and “popular” arise, and why? How do these considerations conflate issues of aesthetics, “morals,” and socio-economic class status? Preliminary thoughts on implications of our work for classroom teaching, including ways of incorporating online and other electronic resources.

WEEK 3: Full-group sessions: applying theory. How do specific paradigms and methodologies from modern critical and cultural theory (e.g., Anderson, Habermas, Rancière, Mellor, Moretti) help us re-contextualize “Romantic literature”? Theoretical questions/problems to consider will include: the exclusivity and inclusivity of Romantic literary genres; the modern canon(s); “canonicity” and “periodicity”; gender and aesthetic judgments about subject matter, intended and actual readerships; critical reception; the “politics” and economics of authorship and reviewing; and class, literacy and reading.

WEEK 4: Full-group sessions: technology and writing, both “then” and “now.” How did the evolution of literacy, printing/publishing technology, and the implied moral function of reading (and judging) affect what was written and how it was evaluated by various readerships? What do data about numbers of copies, patterns of circulation (including circulating libraries), and placement of reviews reveal about Romantic-era aesthetics? How does modern technology affect how –and what – we evaluate? Breakout sessions: demonstrations of techniques and resources (including electronic) for teaching, with opportunities for ad hoc individual or group work for interested participants in computer labs and digital workshops. Teaching/pedagogical demonstrations. Continued consultation on individual projects.

In the week’s final session, you will begin reporting on your projects, to further illuminate some of the 50-year developments in Romantic-era literary, artistic, cultural, and national(istic) values, from their “revolutionary” roots in the 1780s through the increasing “domesticity” of Regency and then early Victorian culture. At this point our collaborative and individual work should begin to help inform everyone about aspects of the seminar that not everyone has had time to investigate individually and in detail.

WEEK 5: Full-group sessions: individual precis presentations of projects (3 sessions). Consideration of remaining unvisited horizons for research and for teaching. What unresolved questions have we exposed in the seminar? Where should scholarship go next in remapping issues of aesthetics relative to the Romantic literary landscape? What sorts of materials do extant archives suggest that we still need? What textual, critical, historical, intellectual, aesthetic, methodological, theoretical, and pedagogical assumptions must be challenged, interrogated, revised, and perhaps even abandoned as a consequence of what we have learned about the British Romantic writing community and the ways it was and is evaluated? Finally, how can we most effectively incorporate into our teaching and research both the particular discoveries we have made and – perhaps more important – their implications for how we think about the texts we teach, the contexts in which we teach them, and the students whom we attempt to engage?

— Seminar Faculty and Staff

My own interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching embrace both canonical and non-canonical authors, especially but not exclusively in poetry, as well as pedagogy in Romanticism studies. My more recent involvement in literary recovery projects (especially involving women poets) has yielded publications in conventional print and electronic forms. In connection with this work, I have stressed in print and at conferences my conviction that rethinking aesthetics is long overdue in light of developments in Romanticism studies over the past several decades. In short, the seminar’s subject is one in which I am — and have long been — both involved and invested. We will be assisted in our work by an advanced PhD student whose focus lies in the seminar’s subject area. Each of you will have access to staff and facilities at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and to subject specialists at the University Libraries, as well as to University of Nebraska faculty and students on campus during summer 2010.

— Selection of Participants

Two faculty colleagues at the University of Nebraska whose expertise includes the Romantic era will help me choose the seminar participants. We will evaluate all applications privately and then consult about our recommendations for selection, following NEH’s general selection criteria. We will pay special attention to (1) the potential value to Romanticism studies of your proposed project itself and to (2) achieving a broadly inclusive array of participants relative to geographical distribution, types of home institution, length of time in the profession, and gender. I will be happy to answer any and all questions about the seminar and my goals fro it in advance, be they minor or complicated, so that you can prepare your application accordingly. If you are even remotely interested in the sort of wide-ranging inquiry I envision for the seminar, I strongly encourage you to inquire — and of course to apply.

— Professional Development for Seminar Participants:

One logical outcome of your seminar project is an article, scholarly essay, or book chapter; our seminar format may enhance opportunities also for individual and/or group publication. During the seminar I will also help you shape your project to take fullest advantage of available materials and resources, and will read and respond to your work in progress, if you wish. I will help in any way I can — both during the seminar and afterward — to assist you in readying your work for dissemination. I have budgeted seminar time for pedagogical concerns, too, something that may appeal especially to those of you who work in teaching-intensive institutions. For all of us, how we rethink our classroom teaching (including both readings and in-class activities) has no less an impact on the profession and the public than does the traditional print-media (or electronic) “publication” of our work. Because I regard scholarship and teaching as functionally inseparable, I want our seminar to accommodate as nearly as possible these twin realities – and twin imperatives – of a profession in which the publication of research is widely rewarded while classroom teaching generally occupies the bulk of our time and energy. Given both the collegiality that historically characterizes seminars and my own commitment to facilitating productive discussions, this dual objective seems eminently attainable.

— Institutional Context for the Seminar; or, Five Weeks at the University of Nebraska

The University of Nebraska is well suited for an NEH Summer Seminar, having hosted seminars in British Romanticism in 2003 and 2005. The Don L. Love Memorial Library provides excellent facilities for individual research, and the staffs of both Microforms and Special Collections have proven invaluable (and both generous and professionally supportive) in assisting previous participants with their work. While you are in Lincoln you will enjoy faculty status, which provides full (and free) access to all library services, including individual and group study space.

The University Libraries owns several extraordinary resources directly relevant to this seminar. The first is the “Corvey Collection,” a microfiche archive of nearly 10,000 literary works from the Romantic era, of which some 3,300 are in English (the others are in French and German). Because many of these works are extremely rare, the collection offers an unparalleled resource of primary materials, as well as an unusually representative “snapshot” of the actual publication history of the period. Supplementing the Corvey Collection are extensive microform holdings in early English books and periodicals, including a broadly inclusive representation of Romantic-era British literary periodicals. The extensive reviews contained in these provide especially rich source material for participants, who will probably spend considerable time examining, documenting, and digesting the record of taste and aesthetics they constitute. The Microforms collection has good, inexpensive facilities for copying and printing from the microform materials; the helpful staff efficiently accommodates special requests for copying and other assistance. The University Library has excellent electronic and digital resources for research, as well as a shockingly swift interlibrary loan service, which you will also be welcome to use.

I encourage you to consult the University of Nebraska Libraries' on-line catalogue and the on-line inventory of the Corvey belles lettres collection to assess the range of available primary texts and formulate appropriate research projects. I will be happy to provide descriptive and contextual materials to anyone who inquires, and I will also be glad to respond to your more specific queries about these collections and other available electronic and conventional resources, which constitute a truly remarkable set of resources (in a perhaps unexpected location).

The University Libraries also house the nationally-recognized Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (directed by Professors Kenneth Price [English] and Katherine Walter [Libraries]), where you will be able to get advice and assistance with designing and developing digital projects related to your research and teaching. Digital Humanities is increasingly important for scholarship and teaching, and the strength of the program at Nebraska (the university administration has dubbed it a “Program of Excellence” and funded it accordingly) immediately benefits our seminar .

Both the Department of English and the College of Arts and Sciences support this seminar and will do their best to make your time here both pleasurable and profitable. The department will provide office space for you, including private offices if possible, along with copying and scanning privileges, and will offer postal service for you. Our seminar meetings will be in a comfortable, air-conditioned room fully equipped with the appropriate electronic technology for all our needs, and we will have access to a computer lab in the building.

sbehrendt/projects/NEH2010/Housing: The Department of University sbehrendt/projects/NEH2010/Housing will provide residence facilities for your stay, including the option of full or partial meal packages.The University offers a very reasonably priced package of accommodations and meals in good, comfortable, and air-conditioned residence halls with on-site staff and high-speed internet access. (The campus is largely wireless, by the way.) In 2010 you will be able to stay in a virtually brand-new, apartment style dormitory that will be reserved exclusively for non-student adult summer residents (like you). The preliminary cost estimates I've received from University sbehrendt/projects/NEH2010/Housing are very good. A stay of 34 nights (arriving on Sunday, 6 June and departing on Saturday, 10 July) will cost you approximately $710 for the room and complete linen service, including bedding and daily towel exchange. If you add in a full meal pacakage (3 meals daily) for the seminar's duration the total will go up to about $1290. Because the university housing option is both a good bargain for the Lincoln area and a convenient way to cover accommodations and meals (you’ll especially appreciate the latter), I strongly recommend that seminar participants choose this option, which proved very popular with colleagues who attended the NEH Summer Seminars here in 2003 and 2005. Indeed, previous seminar participants have very much enjoyed the overall collegiality and the many opportunities for informal conversations and social activities that come with living in this sort of community arrangement, especially since the dorm is very close to both the library and our adjacent seminar location. For those who desire off-campus housing, which can be difficult to find in summer, my assistant and I will do our best to help with contacts and arrangements.

Parking and other amenities: Parking will be available for you at $10 per week, or $50 for the five weeks that we meet. ), and the residences have full computer facilities to which participants can easily connect once they check in. We can also arrange for inexpensive passes for any of you who might wish to use the university’s gym, pool, and other facilities. In the past we have been able also to arrange for complimentary banking services (including check deposit and cashing) for seminar participants at a branch of a Lincoln bank that is housed in the Student Union.

Arriving and departing: We will work with you if you’d like to arrive early or depart a bit after Friday, 9 July. Accommodations will begin to get “tight” by 11 July, though, because Lincoln (and the university) will be hosting the 2010 Special Olympics beginning on 15 July, with the result that all university housing is going to be fully occupied.

Logistics: The Department of English is housed in Andrews Hall, which is immediately adjacent to the University Libraries. Your on-campus housing is within easy walking distance (less than three blocks, depending upon your choices) of both. The nearby student union houses a bookstore, entertainment, food courts, a 24-hour computer lab and – conveniently – the branch bank mentioned above.

Lincoln is a pleasant community of some 250,000 with varied cultural attractions: good museums (including the Sheldon Gallery, a leading museum of modern art), a summer repertory theatre and other summer theatre and music events, a good – if modest – zoo, a minor-league baseball team (the Saltdogs, who play in a really lovely ballpark), excellent parks and trails for walking and biking (rental bikes are available), and a variety of area lakes for recreational use, as well as several dozen movie screens and a wide range of good restaurants. Lincoln is within an hour’s drive of Omaha and its Joslyn Museum of Art, its world-class Henry Doorly Zoo, its Triple-A minor-league professional baseball team, the Omaha Royals), and all the other amenities of a larger metropolis. Lincoln is also within easy driving distance (c. 120 miles) of Kansas City, which offers still other cultural and recreational opportunities to those who wish to venture further afield. Finally, eastern Nebraska provides a surprising number of good state and regional parks for a wide variety of outdoor activities. All these are moderately priced, even by regional standards.

Director's Qualifications:  Especially in recent years, I have been active in both traditional and electronically-oriented projects in scholarship and teaching. My work, which I would characterize as strongly interdisciplinary in nature and methodology, extends to both canonical and non-canonical authors and subjects. Most recently, I have focused my energies on projects involving the recovery and reassessment of historically neglected or marginalized writings, especially by women. In the process, I have begun working with my students to explore and employ the emerging electronic resources for scholarship and teaching, including helping them create and mount on a website I maintain (Studies in Romanticism at the University of Nebraska) a selection of electronic texts and other materials relating to the Corvey Collection along with other resources in Romantics studies. As Visiting Professor in the Institute of Cultural Studies at Sheffield Hallam University (1998-2001), I participated in that university's “Corvey Project,” studying their electronic apparatus to the Corvey holdings, a growing cache of supplementary materials like synopses, biographical and bibliographical materials, and summaries of contemporary reviews that is being mounted on a continually evolving website at Sheffield Hallam. I also serve on the Advisory Board for the British Women Romantic Poets project at the University of California, Davis, and on the Editorial Boards for scholarly electronic publications on the Sheffield Hallam and Cardiff Corvey websites. Within these varied professional contexts, and to the fullest of my abilities, I am committed to helping each of you to enhance your opportunities to make the results of your work known to the wider community of scholars and teachers, both during Summer 2010 and afterwards.

A final observation. While I have of course taken much satisfaction from the real and exciting activities in Romantics studies in which I have been engaged, I very much miss the sort of concentrated interchange with colleagues that a summer seminar provides. As someone who participated in a Summer Seminar early in my own career and then directed them, in 2003 and 2005, I fully appreciate the dynamics of the seminar environment and the mutually stimulating nature of seminar activities. They offer an opportunity for all of us who are typically separated from a real community of peers to get together in one place, work together, draw energy from one another, and accomplish far more collectively as a study group than we could normally hope to achieve individually in the relative isolation of our respective institutions, where teaching loads are often high, research funding low, and colleagues with similar interests often altogether non-existent. These are some of the reasons why I shall particularly welcome your participation in Summer 2010.



— Application Materials, Forms and Instructions

NEH provides detailed information concerning both the conditions of eligibility for Summer Seminars generally and the process of applying for membership in this seminar. For your convenience, I have placed this information on this website; you may access it by clicking here. Please note that you will need to fill out a cover sheet on line and then print out that sheet and include it in the paper application you send to me.

If you prefer to have this information in your hands in conventional paper form, or if you are unable to access and download it through this website, please contact me by mail or by email, and I will send you the necessary materialas. My addresses (including an active email link) appear below, at the end of this document.

Please note with particular care NEH's very specific requirements about the arrangement and length of the application cover sheet, as well as the equally detailed information that NEH also provides about the nature and scope of the essay that you must furnish as part of your application.

In keeping with NEH policy, all applications will be reviewed, evaluated, and ranked by me and two senior faculty members from the Department of English. The NEH application information explains some of the crieteria that govern the selection of seminar participants. Briefly, the principal criteria for selection will include the following:

• quality of research/pedagogical proposal and appropriateness to the available resources;
• potential value to Romantics studies of your proposed project;
• likelihood that your stated goals can be achieved through participation in the seminar and within a reasonable period during and after the seminar's conduct;
• broadly inclusive distribution of participants relative to geographical distribution, types of home institution, length of time in the profession, and gender.

Perhaps the most important part of your application is the essay you must submit as part of your complete application. This essay should include any personal and academic information that is relevant; reasons for applying for this particular seminar; your own interest – both personal and academic – in the topic; your qualifications to do the work of the seminar and make a contribution to it; what you hope to accomplish by participating, including any individual research and writing projects; and the relation of the seminar to your teaching.

For application forms, individual inquiries, questions and any other information about the seminar, please follow the links above, or contact me directly. I very much hope to hear from you, and I hope you will spread the word to interested colleagues.

Stephen C. Behrendt
Department of English
319 Andrews Hall
University of Nebraska

Lincoln, NE 68588-0333

Phone: (402) 472-1806
FAX : (402) 472-9771
email: sbehrendt1@unl.edu

Click here to send email to Stephen C. Behrendt

 

 

About the National Endowment for the Humanities