A quick roundup of goings on from the final day of the 8th Biennial Symbiosis Conference! Again, the summaries are potted and do great damage to the nuances of the originals, but are presented here for interest. Apologies to Elif Arrmbruster; my notes on your paper went walkies and so I felt unable to write up a review! Many thanks to Chris Gair for organizing this event, which was thoroughly enjoyable in every respect.
Richard E. Brantley (University of Florida)
Richard's paper was a stimulating engagement with the poetry of Emily Dickinson, with special focus, in this instance, upon her engagement with science and astronomy. In moving beyond the "erotics of smallness", Brantley demonstrated the sublime nature of Dickinson's empiricism, moving towards a familiarity with the sublime/deified. Indeed, Dickinson was positioned, here, between the local and the global through an excellent turn on the usual reading of "my business is circumference".
Matthew Smith (Miami University of Ohio)
Matthew's paper was a turn away from his recently completed doctoral work, dispelling the image of David Hume as an eternal optimist and giving compelling evidence for a re-treatment of Peggy Irvine's testimony of Hume's misery in the final stages of his death from intestinal cancer.
Tom Wright (University of Oxford)
Tom's paper was on the transatlantic connections inherent in the founding of the American lyceum, as descended, but evolved, from the public lecture of Scotland. The pedagogy of 1820s Scotland required by statute public lectures, as evinced by Anderson and Birkbeck. In the US, the lectures moved away from scientific lectures towards the cultural and historical.
Lawrence Davies (University of Glasgow)
This paper gave a fantastic overview of the works and life of Robert Cunninghame Graham and the myriad ways in which his work engages with imperialism and a politics of the Left, despite Graham's own family background. I fully intend to read some of this after this paper which was hugely engaging and consistently of contemporary relevance.
Phil Tew (Brunel University)
Phil's paper was on the experience of male egocentricity central to Zadie Smith's On Beauty, arguing that the campus novel professors fail in their humanity and differ only on their views of beauty.
Chris Wright (University of Newcastle)
Chris' paper was an extension on his thinking of the connections between Henry James and Thomas Pynchon, particularly as the concept applies to innocence. Arguing that Pynchon's innocence is an earned experience, not something one is born into, this was an excellent re-politicization of Pynchon which led me to consider the implications of Pynchon's time structures in relation to jurisprudence and the move from innocence to guilt.
Featured image by Cayusa under a CC-BY-NC license.