By Eliana Rodriguez, Dec. 13, 2022
The German Society for English Romanticism’s 19th international conference was headlined by keynote speaker and Cal Poly Pomona English Professor Dewey Hall.
Being this is the first time Hall was invited to give a keynote address, CPP was also recognized at an international conference while demonstrating his original research in ecocriticism. Hall teaches courses and conducts research on 19th century British romantic and Victorian writers, 18th century Enlightenment, ecocriticism, and English education at CPP.
It is through passion and dedication to their fields that CPP professors can be sources of inspiration for many students who are interested in either conference experiences or writing original research papers.
“The conference theme was Romantic Ecologies and because I have spent so much time, probably over a decade now, working on romanticism, in this case, ecology, and they’ve seen my publications, they thought I would be an adequate fit for their conference theme, and I was pleased to be there,” said Hall.
Hall’s connection with the former president of the German association, Christoph Bode, led to active support as his work was original, had a wonderful delivery and archival research assuring him that his mentor would have been proud.
According to Hall, many of those who attended the conference were movers and shakers of the field of romanticism. Hall was the only professor from the California State University system that attended and spoke about his work at the conference.
The keynote address was written over the span of six months and was over 20 pages in length. Hall spent the next six months before the conference revising and reading to prepare for the Q&A session.
“There were a lot of issues and questions I ran up against which included making the transitions sound and accurate because I wanted to present an original paper,” said Hall.
Hall’s goal was to write a paper that was relevant to the people in Germany. He has read of Wordsworth being in Germany from 1798-99 and wondered how the weather affected the poet’s mind since the poetry during that time was about death and coldness.
When conducting his research, the natural climate of Germany during this time came to mind and Hall made a connection to the volcanic eruption of Pico Viejo that happened on the Canary Islands of Tenerife.
According to his keynote address, Hall explained the natural world replicating itself and how materialism formed and guided his interpretation of the volcanic eruption by relating it to humanity in terms of the body.
“This was my first opportunity to give a keynote address and basically all eyes are on you for that time, so it’s really a privilege and it represents an elevated status with regards to my work in the profession and I think people really respected the work that I did for the conference,” said Hall.
However, he recalls that while the conference proved to be a stimulating experience, what resonates with him is the connections he made there.
Even after the conference, Hall’s praise was not done. He recalls that the co-organizer of the conference talked to Hall about the quality of the paper over lunch and invited him to publish his paper for the conference volume of the association’s journal.
Hall hopes to take what he learned back to his classrooms.
“If you have a desire to go to grad school in English, ecocriticism is still growing in the field, and a lot of people are doing work in this field, in part because of the climate change issues that we are currently facing,” said Hall. “Even though we are not scientists in the work that we do, the writing we do, through the rhetoric, we can actually help shape and reshape thinking.”
Hall is set to contribute to a book for the Cambridge University Press about the early 1800s that is set to be published in early 2024, while also writing a book for a project that is due December 2023.
To learn more about Hall’s work, his book Gendered Ecologies provides new materialist readings of women writers in the 19th century.
Feature image courtesy of Dewey Hall
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