International conference on Romanticism

7 February 2011

Icon of the Romantic Age, Beethoven was born in the same year Captain Cook first arrived in Australia.
Icon of the Romantic Age, Beethoven was born in the same year Captain Cook first arrived in Australia.

The creation of the Romantic Studies Association of Australasia, at the University of Sydney, will be celebrated later this month with a major inaugural conference involving scholars from around the world.

The theme of the conference is Romanticism and the Tyrannies of Distance inspired by Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey's account of the way the geographical remoteness of Australia has shaped its history and identity.

The autumn of 1770 saw the arrival of Captain James Cook to the shores of New Holland. In the same year two towering figures of the Romantic Age were born - Wordsworth and Beethoven.

The establishment of the modern Australian nation in fact coincides with the birth of what is popularly known as the Romantic period.

The conference builds on Blainey's concept to explore the way in which distance, whether geographical, psychological or cultural, conditioned and challenged the writers and thinkers of the Romantic period, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The event will include a panel discussion of Romanticism in Australia with the assembled editors of The Oxford Companion To The Romantic Age (1999).

Papers will be presented on:

  • Sydney Harbour and the Romantic sublime
  • William Bligh and the pirates of London
  • Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge and India
  • John Keats

The Romantic Studies Association of Australasia encourages scholars to use the historical distance of the early twenty-first century together with the geographical and cultural distance of Australia to reconceptualise the field of Romantic studies.

The Association was founded at the University of Sydney in 2010 to promote the study of the literary, artistic, political, and scientific culture of the 'long' Romantic period (circa 1750 to 1850) throughout universities, secondary schools, and the general community in Australia and New Zealand.

The Romanticism and Tyrannies of Distance conference is being held at the University of Sydney from 10 to 12 February.

Media enquiries: Verity Leatherdale, 9351 4312, 0419 278 715,