Lannan Center Symposium and Middlemarch

Out of the events I attended, I found the event which included Trevor and Heidi’s talks the most fascinating because of their focus on perspective and perception – both of the self and others. Trevor’s talk on secrecy and the government’s control on what is and isn’t revealed to the public in terms of ‘special’ projects and task forces actually made me think of the narrative style in Middlemarch: often the narrator knows more than the characters do themselves, and has the ability to control what is and isn’t revealed to the reader.

Similarly, Heidi Ewig’s talk on her films such as ‘Jesus Camp’, in which she discussed the issue of faith after 9/11 in the US and the perception vs. reality of different faith groups around the country really struck me. It made me contemplate the often stark contrast between self-perception and the perception of others, and in a way made me look back to elements of Middlemarch; where self-perception and the character’s consciousness of their position in society and how others see them is a key theme throughout the novel.

After going to the group panel discussion later that day where the main focus of the debate was the interconnected world we live in as a result of the internet and in particular the use of social media, and the effects that constantly being connected with each other can have in terms of revolutions etc; I began once more to draw links between the subject matter in both talks and Middlemarch.  In a sense, we as a society are as much confined and defined by the ‘gossamer webs’ that surround the characters in Middlemarch.

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