42nd Annual Virtual Conference
March 11-13, 2021
NCSA invited scholars to interrogate the trope of “discovery” by questioning the term’s ideological and colonial implications. Why was the concept of “discovery” so appealing in the nineteenth century, and what does its popularity tell us about the people and social structures that were so invested in it? Papers will also consider indigenous perspectives that challenge ideas of western “discovery” and settler colonialism, new voices that theorize and critique nineteenth-century “discoveries,” intellectual exchange between cultures, and other methods of unmasking narratives of exploration and “discovery.”

As we welcome participants from around the globe, we want to formally and with great respect acknowledge that the conference is being organized in central California on the traditional lands of the Yokuts Nation. We work from the unceded ancestral lands of these indigenous tribes. Thank you for letting us honor them and give our thanks to their ancestors and descendants for their constant and careful stewardship of this land.



Denise Murrell
Posing Modernity: Two Black Model Exhibitions and the Histories of Art
Friday, March 12, 2021
10:00am Pacific Standard Time (PST/UTC -8)
Conference participants, please register for the keynote here

Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Denise Murrell, PhD, is an Associate Curator, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York  (January 2020-present). She was the curator of the 2018 exhibition Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery, as the Wallach’s Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Scholar. She was a co-curator of the exhibition’s expansion at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, as Le Modèle Noir de Géricault à Matisse and a guest lecturer for a final tour as Le Modèle Noir de Géricault à Picasso at the Memorial ACTe, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Denise is the author of the Posing Modernity exhibition catalogue (Yale University Press and Wallach Art Gallery, 2018), which was based on her 2014 PhD dissertation at Columbia. The catalogue received CAA and Dedalus Foundation book awards. She was an essayist for the related Orsay exhibition catalogue. She held a Mellon pre-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University Art Museum (2012-2013) and taught art history at Columbia University in New York and in Paris.

She previously received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and had an extended career in finance and consulting.

Frederick Burwick
The Discovery and Recovery of Time in Romantic Drama
Saturday, March 13, 2021
10:00am Pacific Standard Time (PST/UTC -8)
Conference participants, please register for the keynote here

Professor Emeritus (UCLA), Frederick Burwick has written 165 essays, mostly on Romantic drama.  He is author of a dozen books and editor of two dozen more. Recent titles are British Drama of the Industrial Revolution (CUP, 2015) and A History of Romantic Literature (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019).

My title as well as a few terms are borrowed from Stephen Toulmin, The Discovery of Time (1965). I do not harken back to the Egyptian invention of the sun dial (1500 BC), nor to the Roman clepsydra that fascinated Thomas De Quincey. Thirty years ago, in Illusion and the Drama (1991), I surveyed accounts of the illusions of time in Romantic drama. In the Poetics, Aristotle asserted that stage time should not exceed the passing of a single day. Adopted by French critics and adhered to by Racine and Corneille, this dictum led to faulting Shakespeare for his loose temporal sequence. Not until the latter half of the eighteenth century was the so-called “unity of time” dismissed as unnecessary. 

At this juncture in theatre history, a new problem arose. If stage time no longer needed to approximate the course of a natural day, how should time be represented? It is difficult to teach Romantic drama without coming to terms with consequences of that debate. Although the experimentation was wonderfully wide-ranging and varied, most of the “new” temporal shifts and changes had already been tried by Shakespeare. But time itself had acquired insistent powers Shakespeare had not anticipated. Church bells might still ring for weddings and funerals, but the steam whistle that called workers to the factories, Blake’s “Satanic Mills,” had not been heard in prior centuries, nor had “Satan’s watch-fiends” dictated their unrelenting demands. 

In this paper I share a typology for the various ways in which time was staged in the period. From the nine strategies for manipulating time, I will give samples of a few especially shaped by literary trends of the era. I will close by reexamining Joanna Baillie’s radical superimposition of events past and present while she also multiplies Aristotle’s precept that “a probable impossibility is to be preferred to an improbable possibility”