New Book | Grammars of Approach

Posted in books by Editor on March 22, 2019

From The University of Chicago Press:

Cynthia Wall, Grammars of Approach: Landscape, Narrative, and the Linguistic Picturesque (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019), 352 pages, ISBN: 978-0226467665 (cloth), $105 / ISBN: 978-0226467832 (paper), $35.

In Grammars of Approach, Cynthia Wall offers a close look at changes in perspective in spatial design, language, and narrative across the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that involve, literally and psychologically, the concept of ‘approach’. In architecture, the term ‘approach’ changed in that period from a verb to a noun, coming to denote the drive from the lodge at the entrance of an estate “through the most interesting part of the grounds,” as landscape designer Humphrey Repton put it. The shift from the long straight avenue to the winding approach, Wall shows, swung the perceptual balance away from the great house onto the personal experience of the visitor. At the same time, the grammatical and typographical landscape was shifting in tandem, away from objects and Things (and capitalized common Nouns) to the spaces in between, like punctuation and the ‘lesser parts of speech’. The implications for narrative included new patterns of syntactical architecture and the phenomenon of free indirect discourse. Wall examines the work of landscape theorists such as Repton, John Claudius Loudon, and Thomas Whately alongside travel narratives, topographical views, printers’ manuals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, grammars, and the novels of Defoe, Richardson, Burney, Radcliffe, and Austen to reveal a new landscaping across disciplines—new grammars of approach in ways of perceiving and representing the world in both word and image.

Cynthia Wall is professor of English at the University of Virginia. She is an editor of works by Bunyan, Defoe, and Pope, and the author of The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London and The Prose of Things: Transformations of Description in the Eighteenth Century, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press.


List of Illustrations
A Note on My Text


1  The Architectural Approach
The etymology of ‘approach’ (n.s.)
The concept of approach (n.s. and v.): the ‘ancient’ and the ‘modern’ lines
The language of approach (v.): architectural and syntactical design
The traveler’s approach
The novelists approach

2  The Prepositional Building
The park gate lodge
The topographical view: angles and staffage
A Bridge to the next part: ‘A Village on, or across, the Thames

3  The Topographical Page
The typographical landscape
The letters on the page:
i. fonts
ii. capitals and italics
iii. catchwords
iv. pointing

4  The Grammar in Between
The rise of grammar
The rise of the preposition
Clarissa and the little words: the avenue and the approach
i. Richardson as printer
ii. Clarissa and prepositions
iii. Clarissa as prepostion

5  The Narrative Picturesque
Syntactical architecture in textual landscapes
i. Bunyan: “thinges . . included in one word”
ii. Defoe: “in a Word
iii. Haywood: “In fine, she was undone”
The narrative picturesque
i. Radcliffe and the prepositional phrase
ii. Burney and the psychological interior
iii. Austen and the approach to the interior

Coda: A Topographical Page



Workshop | The Mind in the Matter

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 22, 2019

From Eventbrite:

The Mind in the Matter: New Approaches to the Psychology of Collecting
Institute of Historical Research, London, 27 March 2019

Organised by the Society for the History of Collecting

Psychology informs us about what drives an individual to collect. In the Enlightenment, the human mind was often analysed and discussed by means of metaphors and analogies borrowed from the world of collecting. In the nineteenth-century, the stereotypes surrounding the monomaniac, eccentric or perverse collector was codified in the art press and through fiction. In the twentieth century, the topic was treated at length by scholars such as Werner Munsterberger, often working in an explicitly psychoanalytic framework. Whilst this Freudian approach has been subject to intense criticism in the past thirty years, many scholars continue to interpret collecting in terms of categories such as ‘lack’, ‘surrogacy’, ‘desire’ and ‘loss’.

Join us for a workshop that investigates the extent to which psychological models are still valid and necessary to understand collecting as a human activity. Is there a tension between the universalising psychological theories and the drive to study collecting historically? What sources are particularly useful or revealing for uncovering the collector’s motivations or relations to his objects? What can recent developments in psychology and neuroscience add to our understanding? How far can or should we enter the interior life of a collector, and what role does imagination play in communicating these insights to new audiences? And what are the meaningful alternatives, apart from opportunistic acquisitions; to a psychological approach of the study of collecting—can we ever escape from this way of thinking?

The workshop brings together six specialists working in different disciplines, who approach the ‘psychology of collecting’ from alternative perspectives, using historical case-studies and scientific models. Confirmed speakers include the pioneering historian of collecting Professor Susan Pearce; neuropsychologist Professor John Harrison; artist, collector and scholar Dr Jane Wildgoose; librarian and heritage expert Dr Tony Burrows; doctoral researcher into the collector Sir William Burrell, Isobel Macdonald; and contemporary art adviser Shaune Arp.

Organising committee: Tom Stammers, Adriana Turpin, Eleni Vassilika

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