Measure and Excess
INCS International Conference
Università di Roma Tre, Rome
13-15 June 2018
The INCS programme committee invites proposals for papers on the theme of ‘measure and excess’ in the long nineteenth century. From Aristotle’s famous attack on excess in the Nichomachean Ethics to twenty-first century denunciations of the dissipations of financial capitalism, the margins of excess have been redrawn throughout the ages. Although the nineteenth century is often associated with ideas of restraint and moderation, manifestations of excess are fostered everywhere in the social, cultural, economic, literary and political realms. The myth of the artist as an outcast who exceeds moral, sexual and aesthetic rules is a nineteenth-century construction; so too is the positivistic notion of the ‘measurability’ of all things, human and non-human, and the consequent project of containing and repressing the potentially subversive excesses of the non-rational.
How did nineteenth-century writers, artists, philosophers, intellectuals, economists, scientists and politicians articulate the dialectics of measure and excess? In William Blake’s famous formulation, ‘the road to excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom’. For Charles Dickens, on the other hand, ‘Vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess’ while Oscar Wilde, at the end of the century, would opine that ‘moderation is a fatal thing’. How were moderation and extravagance conceptualized in relation to aesthetic ideals, legal principles, ethical norms and political doctrines? How did the discourses of science contribute to redefining ideas of measure? In what was considered by many as the Money Age, prudence and financial excess co-existed in the theory and practice of the credit economy. What hierarchies of value presided over the regulation of profligacy, extravagance and wastefulness, whether economic or moral? What emotional tastes and fashions emerged as a response to both? The arrangements that structured everyday experience in the ‘Serious Century’ hinged on notions of regularity. Yet the irregular was an object of intense fascination in the discourses of science as well as in poetry and fiction. What were the uses of irregularity and excess?
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
For individual papers, send 250-word proposals; for panels, send individual proposals plus a 250-word panel description. Please include a one-page CV with your name, affiliation, and email address. Proposals that are interdisciplinary in method or panels that involve multiple disciplines are especially welcome. Send proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 October 2017. For more information, please visit the conference website: https://incsroma2018.wordpress.com/.