Joseph Wright of Derby, 'Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples' circa 1776-80
Joseph Wright of Derby
Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples circa 1776-80
Oil on canvas
support: 1220 x 1764 mm
frame: 1461 x 1941 x 95 mm
Purchased with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, Friends of the Tate Gallery, and Mr John Ritblat 1990

Sublime Conference – Day 1

This symposium asks why the Sublime now? What is its legacy today? In what ways has the Sublime acquired an added urgency in our new millennium? And to what extent is this concept a useful or dangerous tool for the understanding of contemporary culture and history?

Sublime Conference – Day 2, Part 1

This symposium asks why the Sublime now? What is its legacy today? In what ways has the Sublime acquired an added urgency in our new millennium? And to what extent is this concept a useful or dangerous tool for the understanding of contemporary culture and history?

Sublime Conference – Day 2, Part 2

This symposium asks why the Sublime now? What is its legacy today? In what ways has the Sublime acquired an added urgency in our new millennium? And to what extent is this concept a useful or dangerous tool for the understanding of contemporary culture and history?

This conference marks the 250th anniversary of Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), a short book which had a major impact on aesthetics and philosophy, most famously in Immanuel Kant’s ‘Analytic of the Sublime’ published in 1790, but also over the following two centuries. Since the 1970s, the concept of the sublime has received renewed attention, with writers such as Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida and Slavoj Žižek giving it a new lease of life and extending the terms in which it is understood..

This symposium celebrates Burke’s influence by investigating contemporary aesthetics, politics and ecology and asks: Why the Sublime Now? What is its legacy today? In what ways has the sublime acquired an added urgency at the start of the twenty-first century? To what extent is the concept a useful or dangerous tool for understanding contemporary history and culture?

The symposium grew out of the interests of a reading group of teachers and research students at Middlesex University and the London Consortium and also inaugurates a major three-year AHRC-funded project at Tate Britain, ‘The Sublime Object: Nature, Art and Language’.

Speakers and panel members

Richard Humphreys (Tate), Peter de Bolla (King’s College Cambridge), Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University), Esther Leslie (Birkbeck), Cornelia Parker (artist), Claire Pajaczkowska (Middlesex University), Suzannah Biernoff (Birkbeck), Cornelia Klinger (Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna), Jan Rosiek (University of Copenhagen), Bettina Reiber (Central St Martins), Rob Stone (Middlesex University), Marina Wallace (Central St Martins), k r buxey (artist), Jamal Jumá (poet), Gene Ray (critic and theorist), Iain Boal (University of California) , Adrian Rifkin (Middlesex University)