As part of a series of workshops for the ‘Fashionable Diseases: Medicine, Literature and Culture, 1660-1832‘ Leverhulme-funded project at Northumbria and Newcastle Universities, we are pleased to welcome Dr Michelle Faubert, Associate Professor in Romantic Literature, University of Manitoba, Canada and Visiting Fellow at Northumbria University to lead a workshop on “Fashionable Suicides of the Romantic Era.”
Dr Faubert, author of Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Romantic-Era Psychologists and editor/co-editor of Romanticism and Pleasure, the Broadview Press Edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Maria, or the Wrongs of Women and Volume Four: Medical Writings of Depression and Melancholy, 1660-1800. As part of her current research project, Romantic Suicide, Dr. Faubert will be discussing the odd phenomenon of fashionable suicides – both fictional and real – in the Romantic period. The adjective “Romantic” in the project’s title gestures, in part, to a particular literary construction of suicide as sentimentalized, irresponsible, and aestheticized that remains familiar in Western culture. This notion of suicide, so characteristic of the period, is embodied in literary personae such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Werther and Thomas Chatterton. The theme of suicide was fashionable, even attractive, to some in the Romantic era, as it suited the appetite for extreme emotions favoured by so many men and women in this “culture of sensibility,” to borrow a phrase from G. J. Barker-Benfield. “Now more than ever seems it rich to die,” John Keats intones in a seductive poetic expression of the Romantic-era will to death. Yet, more broadly conceived, Romantic suicide has an inherently contradictory quality, for it also played a major role in serious, influential debates about human rights. The goal of this workshop is to explore the inconsistencies in the Romantic-era view of suicide as, at once, fashionable and a basic expression of human rights, including women’s rights.
The event will take place on 23rd May, 2-5pm in Room 121 Lipman Building, Northumbria University, Newcastle. All are warmly invited to attend.
For more information, please contact: Dr. Anita O’Connell, Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow, Fashionable Diseases: Medicine, Literature and Culture 1660-1800, Department of Humanities, Northumbria University