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18 January 2023 - 18 January 2023

5:30PM - 6:30PM

Online and Elvet Riverside 147

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Everyone is warmly welcome to our next Inventions of the Text seminar, which takes place both online and in person.

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An Inventions of the Text seminar

‘Our attention’, claimed the late Victorian author Vernon Lee, ‘wants to be made to move briskly, rhythmically, to march, nay, as Nietzsche puts it, to dance’. Lee’s understanding of attention as a bodily matter derived from her broader interest in the physiological dimensions of the aesthetic encounter: what might be termed an affinity for the kinaesthetic or ‘movement’ qualities of different art forms. In 1880, the English physician Henry Charlton Bastian had coined the term ‘kinaesthesis’ to denote the sense of movement, a capacious ‘sixth sense’ previously neglected in studies of the human sensorium. This talk considers the integration of scientific and aesthetic approaches to the sense of movement at the end of the nineteenth century, showing how writers like Vernon Lee, Walter Pater, Bernard Berenson, and Clementina Anstruther-Thomson formulated their theories of aesthetic engagement in a distinctively kinaesthetic register. Ultimately, I suggest, these thinkers point towards an alternative model of aesthetic and literary attention, one grounded in an intersubjective notion of ‘empathy’ as a corporeal technique.