CfP: «A great community»: John Ruskin’s Europe, Venice, 7-9 October 2019

Ca’ Foscari University
« A great community »: John Ruskin’s Europe
Venice 7-9 October 2019

One of the last of John Ruskin’s books, a collection of articles written between 1834 and
1885, is entitled On the Old Road. From Calais, where the Ruskin family disembarked for the
first time in 1833, at the start of their first contintental tour, the road leads south across
France and Switzerland and into Italy, coming to its end in Venice where, in 1888, Ruskin
wrote the last words in his diary. The route is marked by many milestones in the life of
Ruskin, in his thinking and in his work, and crosses numerous frontiers – frontiers that are
often barely noticed. In traversing this vast continent, Ruskin puts behind him the narrow
confines of Victorian Britain; his work shapes one of the most important founding moments in
the constitution of a distinctively European culture and spirit.
This theme is a core concern of a series of recent historical and aesthetic studies which
recognise the crucial importance of place, of myth, and of image in the construction of a
common European fabric (see Carlo Ossola, Europa ritrovata. Geografie e miti del vecchio
continente, Milan 2017; published in French as Fables d’identité. Pour retrouver l’Europe, Paris
2018; and L’Europe. Encyclopédie historique edited by Christophe Charle and Daniel Roche,
Paris 2018), and of studies such as Salvatore Settis’s, Architettura e democrazia. Paesaggio,
città, diritti civili (Turin 2017) which deal with key questions of cultural heritage in an interdisciplinary
perspective and are driven by strong civic ethos.
On the occasion of the bicenternary of the birth of John Ruskin we invite scholars from
across the disciplines to re-read his works, from the Poetry of Architecture to the Stones of
Venice, the Bible of Amiens, the Oxford Lectures, St Mark’s Rest and Fors Clavigera, works which
refer repeatedly to the concept of a «a great European community» (A Joy For Ever, 1857).
The conference will thus build on and develop a theme to which the conference John Ruskin
and 19th Century Cultural Travel held in Venice in 2008 was dedicated. In carrying forward
the work begun there, this new occasion will also offer an opportunity to explore more recent
readings and critical editions which have thrown light on little known aspects of Ruskin’s
work, focussing new attention on mobility, both intellectual and stylistic as well a geographic.
It will we believe prove fruitful to take a view from outside the confines of the nation and
time into which he was born, and look at his ideas in this broader, more modern context.
This conference thus invites scholars to discover or rediscover a self-consciously
European John Ruskin, and explore the multiple facets and levels – geographical, historical,
critical, aesthetic, socio-political, and cultural – of an oeuvre which both deliberately
challenges disciplinary boundaries and breaks through national frontiers.

– Ruskin’s European inheritance
– Ways in which his works contribute to the construction of cultural identities both national
(English, French, Italian etc) and European
– Ruskin’s view of the roles of religions and Churches in the construction of cultural identity
– Modes of circulation within Europe as evoked and described in his works
– The idea of Europe as object of nostalgia, as utopia, as long-term project
– Ruskin’s symbolic representations of European disgregation.

– Travel diaries and sketchbooks
– Maps
– Europe in its extra-European relations
– Physical geography: seas, rivers, mountain ranges and valley, forests, palins
– Political geography
– Migrations
– Cultural geography (see Denis Cosgrove’s « John Ruskin’s European Visions », 2010).
– The representation of pan-European movements (i.e. Gothic, Renaissance) and styles
(Byzantine, Romanesque, Etruscan)
– Re-reading medieval and renaissance painting
– Ruskin’s reception of European literature, of the Bible, of Greek and Latin classics
– Ruskin and his network of friends and contacts in Europe
– Translation of Ruskin’s works, Ruskin and translation
– The European debate on architectural restoration
– The crafts as a model of economic development
– Teaching as a means of transmitting common values.

Organizers : Emma Sdegno, Martina Frank (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Pierre-Henry Frangne
(Université Rennes 2), Myriam Pilutti Namer (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)

Website :

Abstracts of 300-500 words are to be sent to
They can be submitted either in English, French, German, or Italian

Deadline for submission: 31 January 2019; Acceptance to be notified by 31 March 2019

For any questions, please contact the organizers at:

Scientific Committee
Dinah Birch (University of Liverpool)
Irene Favaretto (Università degli studi di Padova; Scuola Grande di San Rocco)
Sandro G. Franchini (Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti)
Pierre-Henry Frangne (Université Rennes 2)
Martina Frank (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)
André Hélard (Classes préparatoires Rennes)
Howard Hull (Brantwood Estate)
Cédric Michon ((Université Rennes 2)
Anna Ottani Cavina (Università di Bologna)
Myriam Pilutti Namer (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)
Claude Reichler (Université de Lausanne)
Emma Sdegno (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)
Salvatore Settis (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)
Paul Tucker (Università degli studi di Firenze)
Stephen Wildman (Lancaster University)

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