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In an address at the Coleridge and Contemplation conference in Kyoto, Japan this past March, I discussed the complex interweaving of history and culture in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s approach to contemplation. His views were partially shaped by his contact with ancient Asian meditative traditions through works often characterized as part of an “Oriental Renaissance.”
Surprisingly, Coleridge’s philosophies are equally conversant with contemporary neurological investigations of contemplation, as highlighted this past year in Scientific American. In this sense, history comes in myriad configurations and assumes numerous guises, although it clearly flows through almost every work—whether poetic or prosaic, visionary or analytic—that Coleridge produced.
Similarly, diverse forms of historical awareness emanate from the stories in the current issue of Accents on English. A prominent dimension, which continues to shape our current work, is the focus placed on the historical development of English at ASU.
The focus on that history brings attention squarely on those people who have come before to shape our present. This past year has seen a number of such transitions, especially among our emeriti ranks, and these individuals’ lives and work will be celebrated this coming fall.
History is not necessarily a discourse solely dedicated to the past but is equally concerned with more immediate success in the present, and this aspect is highlighted through the story of recent alumniand current students. The presence of history as an animating presence for ongoing research throughout the department is easily discerned in the work recently published by its members.
What might also be observed, then, through these diverse dimensions of the historical, is that history is a construction, a system of representation, in which all participate and into which all are invited.
Photo of Mark Lussier by Peter Cheyne, taken at Kyoto (Japan) Notre Dame University’s conference on Coleridge and Contemplation, which "gathered Coleridgean and contemplative scholars from all over the world to discuss a wide range of literary and philosophical topics" (Coleridge Bulletin, Summer 2015, New Series 44).
Header background image from the 1930s: fountain and lawn in front of Old Main. UP UPC ASUB 357 1930s #8