Reading Group on the Pseudo/Sciences of the Long Nineteenth Century

The next session of the reading group will take place on Monday 20 April at 6.00pm at the Lit and Phil Library, Newcastle upon Tyne. Everyone is welcome, refreshments provided.
Dr. Peter Garratt, Durham University, will introduce two readings on:
The Science and Art of Atmosphere
Clouds turn the eye upwards towards the indeterminate, towards the gathering possibility of structure and form (substance on the verge of formalization or singular structuration). Clouds trouble and fascinate early nineteenth-century aesthetic and scientific observational practices: as Mary Jacobus points out, they ‘paradoxically serve to abolish the representational realm altogether’. The cloud, in its substanceless bearing that somehow combines lightness and weight, signals mood, omen, prophecy, delight, sublimity, while challenging ‘the phenomenology of the visible’ itself. These two readings, from Jacobus and Ruskin, elaborate upon the difficult pleasures of cloud-gazing in relation to a range of writers and painters including Turner, Constable, Wordsworth, Shelley, and John Clare    

1)      John Ruskin, ‘Of Truth of Clouds’, Modern Painters I (1843).

2)      Mary Jacobus, ‘Cloud Studies: The Visible Invisible’, Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism 14 (2006): 219-247. Reprinted as chapter 1 of her recent book Romantic Things: A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud (Chicago, 2012).


The readings are available at


For further information please contact Pat Beesley at