Nineteenth-Century Taxonomies of the One and the Many


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

In this series of discussions 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?

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

First session:

20th October at 5pm: A Mono/Poly Roundtable: Religion, Race and Colour

Presenters: Brian Murray (KCL), Cora Kaplan (QMUL) and Nick Gaskill (Rutgers)

Venue: KCL Music Department, Strand Campus, SWB21


Extracts from James Cowles Prichard, The Natural History of Man (1855); Robert Knox, The Races of Men (1850); Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847)   prichard-and-knox

David Batchelor, The Luminous and the Grey (2014)  Chapter 1  batchelor


Extracts from Walter Pater, ‘A Study of Dionysus’ (1897)  paterdionysus



The next session will be on 24th November at 6pm: Serials and the Work

Presenters: Mark Turner (KCL) and Seb Franklin (KCL)

Venue: KCL Music Department, Strand Campus, SWB20

For full programme, see