About Us

WHO ARE WE? We are an interdisciplinary research group of faculty and graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Our interests span departments such as Art History, English, Spanish and Portuguese, History, and more. What unites us is our interest in the period known as “middle modernity.”

WHAT DO WE DO? Each semester we bring relevant scholars to campus for public lectures. We meet regularly as a reading group, and we hold workshops to help our members with writing projects and other aspects of professionalization.

WHAT IS “MIDDLE MODERNITY”? In the long arc of modernity that extends from the Renaissance into the present, the literature and culture of what we have chosen to call “middle modernity”—from 1700-1900—encompasses many of the turning points that collectively articulate the challenges of modernity.

Those turning points include new claims about scientific practices, the onset of revolutions, the rise of what one scholar has characterized as “the middling classes,” the expansion of print culture and reading audiences and the explosion of an affordable visual and theatrical culture, the onset of imperialism and the consequent introduction of other territories where the work of modernity continues and counter-imperial culture and cultural theory.

Working against, within and beside these events are the arenas of literary and artistic culture that constitute our field of collective inquiry: the long eighteenth century, Romanticism, and the Victorian era.

Our goal is to provide a forum for intellectual inquiry and debate across the disciplines, with particular but not exclusive focus on literary studies, visual culture, history, philosophy, transnational studies, cultural theory, colonial studies, and print culture.

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We cordially invite all who visit this website and wish to receive notices about Middle Modernity activities to contact our coordinators, Erica Kanesaka Kalnay and Rick Ness, using the “Contact Us” link.