Navigating the Eighteenth Century
Plenary Lectures
Photo of Robert Sattelmeyer
Friday, Feb. 25. Nature and Culture in William Bartram's Southeast
Robert Sattelmeyer, Georgia State University

Professor Sattelmeyer will address William Bartram's Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida . . . (1791), a work that has long held a prominent place in American literary studies as a classic of travel and natural history. Although its most obvious literary influence was on the first generation of Romantic poets, especially Wordsworth and Coleridge, who formed ideals and images of an exotic, tropical American landscape from Bartram's descriptions, Bartram's literariness, and the desire of earlier American critics to claim his book as a foundational text of an American strain of nature writing, have tended to obscure the more immediate concerns and contexts of his book, which were transnational and political in nature.

The talk will focus on Bartram's description of the Southeastern frontier and his activities on the Georgia coast as representative of his larger aims of claiming for the region's indigenous people (especially the Creeks and Cherokees) full human status and political sovereignty in the face of rapidly shifting political, economic, and military conditions during the American Revolution and its immediate aftermath.

Regents' Professor Robert Sattelmeyer is former chairman of GSU's Department of English and is author of numerous articles on Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He received a National Endowment for the Humanities and edited The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, 1989-1991, more specifically the Thoreau journals from 1845 through 1857--in some five volumes (Princeton University Press); 1991-1993; 1993-1995; 1995-1997; 1997-99.


Photo of Allan Ingram
Saturday, Feb. 26. Steering Towards Sanity: The Compass Points of Madness in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Allan Ingram, University of Northumbria - Newcastle.

In Britain the eighteenth century was a period in which Samuel Johnson's famous diagnosis that 'no human mind is in its right state' would have found wide agreement. 'Mad-doctoring' was becoming an increasingly profitable and high-profile profession, medical opinion was busy trying to reach agreement on kinds and cures of insanity, and public taste was cultivating an obsession with the representation of mad men and women of all kinds and degrees. In this context, the maintenance of the mind 'in its right state' was of critical interest both to medicine and to the public at large.

Professor Ingram's talk will address some of the major issues involved in keeping minds in safe channels, especially minds with a tendency to become fascinated by the unsafe - by the reefs of mania and the sandbanks of depression. Right navigation meant locating the dangers, putting down markers, monitoring the currents. How was this conducted? Who contributed to keeping minds sane? Who hindered? And what, anyway, did sanity mean, especially if no human mind could be trusted to know?

Allan Ingram and Michelle Faubert's forthcoming book, Cultural Constructions of Madness in Eighteenth-Century Writing: Representing the Insane (Palgrave-Macmillan 2004), considers the (mis)representation of insanity through a substantial range of literary forms and figures from across the eighteenth century and beyond. While primarily adopting a literary focus, the work is informed throughout by an alertness to significant issues of medical and psychiatric history.

Of Professor Ingram's seven authored or edited works, four have been on the subjects of melancholy and madness: Boswell's Creative Gloom: A Study of Imagery and Melancholy in the Writings of James Boswell, London: Macmillan, 1982; The Madhouse of Language: Writing and Reading Madness in the Eighteenth Century , London: Routledge, 1991; (ed.) Voices of Madness: Four Pamphlets , 1683-1796 , Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1997; (ed.) Patterns of Madness in the Eighteenth Century: A Reader , Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1998.

Photo: Venue for the Plenary
Plenary Venues

Allan Ingram's post-luncheon lecture is scheduled to be held in the King and Prince Hotel's dramatic solarium, and Robert Sattelmeyer will speak immediately before Friday evening's banquet begins in the large dining room pictured to the right. Both venues command impressive views of the sea--a feast for the eyes as well as for the intellect!

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