MONO-POLY: C19th Taxonomies of the One and the Many

2nd March at 6pm: Monoworks: Tennyson’s Maud and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique

Presenters: Isobel Armstrong (Professor Emeritus, Birkbeck) and Flora Willson (KCL)


[Maud by Edmund J. Sullivan. The illustration originally appeared in Tennyson’s Maud and is here reproduced from Thorpe’s E. J. Sullivan, p. 84.Scanned image  by George P Landow.  Source:


Reading :

Alfred Tennyson, Maud: A Monodrama  (full text available here, with a  link to a recording of a reading of Maud by Jeremy Hardingham – )

See especially:   Part I: I, II, VII, XVII, XIX, XXII;   Part II: II, V;  Part III:  VI

William B. Carpenter, Principles of Mental Physiology (1875),   ‘Mollusks’ (pp. 48-510), and ‘Mania and Monomania’ (pp. 650-675)carpenter-principles-of-mental-physiology

Francesca Brittan, ‘Berlioz and the Pathological Fantastic: Melancholy, Monomania, and RomanticAutobiography’, 19th-Century Music, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Spring 2006), pp. 211-239brittan-berlioz-and-the-pathological-fantastic1

To listen to Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, use this link:

Venue:   KCL Music Department, Strand Campus, SWB20

Next session:

23rd March at 6 PM:   ‘Individuals and Crowds’

Presenters:   Rowan Boyson and Oscar Cox-Jensen

Venue: KCL Music Department, Strand Campus, SWB20

NB:   Change of Date

The ‘Mono-Poly Symposium’ will now take place on Friday 26th May.   Please amend your diaries.

MONO-POLY is a series of discussions organized by Flora Willson ( and Josephine McDonagh (


 Jacques-Ignace Hittorff, L’Architecture polychrôme chez les Grecs (Paris, 1851).

In this series we will consider the reach and significance of the taxonomy of mono versus poly – one versus many– in nineteenth-century thinking and cultural forms. From monochromy to monodrama, from polytheism to polygenesis, monomania, monodies, and monosyllables, mono/poly seems to pervade all kinds of intellectual and cultural production. The questions we will address include: was this emphasis on one and many new for the nineteenth century, or were earlier periods similarly drawn to its organisational potential? Is there any significant symmetry between the diverse formations of mono and poly? Or are they independent and self contained? And how might the discursive formation of mono/poly relate to the question of the individual and the crowd (if at all)? Finally, does mono/poly offer an alternative way to make meaningful connections across diverse cultural forms in the nineteenth century and disciplinary boundaries in the twenty-first?

For full programme, see