Being There: Liveness and Presence ca. 1750-1830


Friday 1 pm - 4 pm


T. Robinson   

Course Description

This course investigates the phenomena of liveness and presence, ca. 1750-1830. It considers what it was (and is) to be there: to exude presence, to feel the presence of another, and to experience the thrill that comes from a sense of participation in a collective moment. We will immerse ourselves in a world of theatrical performances, outdoor gatherings, art exhibits, public readings, protests and revolts, religious events, and encounters with nature and will do so through their depiction in art, literature, and the news. In our exploration of matters including embodiment, feeling, ephemerality, spatiality, and perception, we will adopt an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on theatre and performance studies and on work that engages with affect theory, media studies, and visual studies. What, we’ll ask, can we learn from past depictions of the experience and eventfulness of immediacy? How might it offer a lens through which to understand cultural production both then and now?

Course Reading List

Primary readings may include selections from Jane Austen, Joanna Baillie, Edmund Burke, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, David Garrick, David Hume, Leigh Hunt, Elizabeth Inchbald, Lord Kames, John Locke, Mary Robinson, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Adam Smith, Helen Maria Williams, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, and others.

Secondary criticism may include scholarship by Emily Hodgson Anderson, Judith Butler, Ros Ballaster, Marvin Carlson, Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Mary Favret, Jane Goodall, Jean Marsden, Nicholas Mirzoeff, W.J.T. Mitchell, Jonathan Mulrooney, Daniel O’Quinn, Peggy Phelan, Joseph R. Roach, Diana Taylor, and others.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements

  • Attendance and Informed Class Discussion (15%)
  • Archival Research Exercise (15%)
  • In-Class Seminar Presentation with Handout (15%)
  • Final Project Proposal with Annotated Bibliography (10%)
  • Final Project/Research Paper (45%)

Term: S-TERM (January 2023 to April 2023)
Date/Time: Friday / 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Location: Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)
Delivery: In-Person