Olivier Schefer – Incompleteness, Reversibility and Fragmentary Montage: On Contemporary Romanticism



Event Date 8 – 9 May 2013

Room 22/26
Senate House
University of London
London WC1E 7HU

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy


Romantic Transdisciplinarity: Art and the New Conference

2011–2013 (AHRC 914469)

This conference is dedicated to discussion of the transdisciplinary legacies of early German Romanticism in contemporary theory and practice in the arts and humanities, with particular reference to the construction of the concepts ‘art’ and ‘the new’. Themes to be discussed include: Romanticism and disciplinarity; aesthetics as a transdisciplinary field; transdisciplinary constructions of art, nature and the new; medium, media and transmedia as transdisciplinary concepts.

The conference is in collaboration with the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Professor Olivier Schefer (Aesthetics, Sorbonne, University of Paris 1) – Incompleteness, Reversibility and Fragmentary Montage: On Contemporary Romanticism

This paper intends to determine the conditions of possibility of contemporary romanticism from both a philosophical and aesthetic point of view. It will explore the question of the modern interpretation of early theoretical romanticism, which supposedly aimed at accomplishing the artistic destiny of western metaphysics. ‘The more poetic, the more true’, mused Novalis accordingly, and by 1799 – as a prefiguration of the contemporary crisis of the autonomy of art and modernistic ‘presentness’ (Michael Fried) – he had written: ‘Nothing is more poetic than every kind of transition and heterogeneous mixture’. While focusing on Novalis’ theory, the present lecture will examine early romanticism’s critical relation to systematic processes by considering three major aspects that serve as a structure for the contemporary field of art and theory: the necessary incompleteness (crisis ofthe concept of the work of art and of synthetic truth), the structure of reversibility discussed by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and the logic of montage. This reading of romanticism and its contemporary effects will be partly based on Gilles Deleuze’s philosophical concept of deterritorialization and on the art of inclusive disjunctions as defined in his Essays, Critical and Clinical, which refers to the work of Samuel Beckett.

Olivier Schefer is Professor of the Philosophy of Art at University of Paris I, Sorbonne. He has translated and edited many German romantic writings; philosophical fragments by Novalis in particular. His is the author of a biography of Novalis (2011) and a book-length essay about the modernity of romanticism, Résonances du romantisme (2008). He has also published on insomnia, Variations nocturnes (2008) and a book related to the representations of zombies and ghosts in cinema, literature and philosophy, Des revenants. Corps, lieux, images (2009). He has forthcoming a book about the American artist Robert Smithson and science fiction.






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