A call for papers has been launched for the international conference ‘A great community’: John Ruskin’s Europe. The event will be held at Ca’ Foscari University, in Venice, on October 7-9 2019.
The organizing team includes Emma Sdegno and Martina Frank (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice), Pierre-Henry Frangne (Université Rennes 2) and Myriam Pilutti Namer (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa).
One of the last of John Ruskin’s books, a collection of articles written between 1834 and1885, is entitled On the Old Road. From Calais, where the Ruskin family disembarked for thefirst time in 1833, at the start of their first contintental tour, the road leads south acrossFrance and Switzerland and into Italy, coming to its end in Venice where, in 1888, Ruskinwrote the last words in his diary. The route is marked by many milestones in the life ofRuskin, in his thinking and in his work, and crosses numerous frontiers – frontiers that areoften barely noticed. In traversing this vast continent, Ruskin puts behind him the narrowconfines of Victorian Britain; his work shapes one of the most important founding moments inthe constitution of a distinctively European culture and spirit.
This theme is a core concern of a series of recent historical and aesthetic studies which recognise the crucial importance of place, of myth, and of image in the construction of a common European fabric (see Carlo Ossola, Europa ritrovata. Geografie e miti del vecchio continente, Milan 2017; published in French as Fables d’identité. Pour retrouver l’Europe, Paris 2018; and L’Europe. Encyclopédie historique edited by Christophe Charle and Daniel Roche, Paris 2018), and of studies such as Salvatore Settis’s, Architettura e democrazia. Paesaggio, città, diritti civili (Turin 2017) which deal with key questions of cultural heritage in an inter- disciplinary perspective and are driven by strong civic ethos.
On the occasion of the bicenternary of the birth of John Ruskin we invite scholars from across the disciplines to re-read his works, from the Poetry of Architecture to the Stones of Venice, the Bible of Amiens, the Oxford Lectures, St Mark’s Rest and Fors Clavigera, works which refer repeatedly to the concept of a «a great European community» (A Joy For Ever, 1857). The conference will thus build on and develop a theme to which the conference John Ruskin and 19th Century Cultural Travel held in Venice in 2008 was dedicated. In carrying forward the work begun there, this new occasion will also offer an opportunity to explore more recent readings and critical editions which have thrown light on little known aspects of Ruskin’s work, focussing new attention on mobility, both intellectual and stylistic as well a geographic. It will we believe prove fruitful to take a view from outside the confines of the nation and time into which he was born, and look at his ideas in this broader, more modern context.
This conference thus invites scholars to discover or rediscover a self-consciously European John Ruskin, and explore the multiple facets and levels – geographical, historical, critical, aesthetic, socio-political, and cultural – of an œuvre which both deliberately challenges disciplinary boundaries and breaks through national frontiers.