Ruskinian Close Listening and Conceptive Cartography
Jo Taylor, Manchester University, Jen Southern and Linda O'Keefe, Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Art
In 1870, Ruskin concluded the third of his Lectures on Art with a hope that his audience would take it upon themselves to enhance a central theme of his speech. He hoped that they would consider the ways in which the ‘great Imaginative faculty’ might help them to ‘[m]ap out the spaces of [their] possible lives’ and ‘measure the range of [these lives’] possible agency!’ This was a post-Romantic, proto-phenomenological recognition that the world was a different place for each person who dwelt in it. In this seminar, we explore what roles sound and – more importantly – a particular mode of Ruskinian listening played in mapping out this ‘conceptive faculty’. We will situate Ruskin’s understanding of sound in its nineteenth-century context, but go beyond this to ask how listening like Ruskin might help us develop a more profound – yet everyday – ecological awareness today.