Ron Broglio

Ron Broglio's research focuses on how philosophy and aesthetics can help us rethink the relationship between humans and the environment. He is interested in oblique approaches to fundamental humanist endeavors—such as Romantic poetry and art, contemporary art, and the history of agriculture.

Broglio's work on landscape aesthetics has been driven by an inquiry into the phenomenological approach to the picturesque. This is evident in his book Technologies of the Picturesque which examines how art (both visual and verbal) and technology mutually align their representations of nature in order to transform land into intelligible landscapes. The book is a study of three technological fields burgeoning in 18th century Britain whose influence on the picturesque aesthetic has been overlooked: cartography, meteorology, and animal breeding. In addition to researching specific historical technologies and their influence on the picturesque, the work examines the theoretical ground by which technology and the interior experience of the poetic subject overlap in removing the viewer from nature while presenting the land as a comprehensible object. In such instances technology and art align to present a cohesive worldview. The book pairs original archival research with a phenomenological critique of how representation abstracts from the lived engagement with the land and how artists are complicit with such objectification of nature and at other moments are working toward a more vivid connection to the environment.

By taking up the issue of animals, Broglio has found the fur that jams the well oiled social machine. In other words, animal reveal much about culture and what it means to be human—even a human animal. His book On the Surface: Thinking with Animals and Art extends the phenomenological ground of his first book by addressing contemporary animal art and philosophy. The work establishes a language for scholarship within the cross-disciplinary field of animal studies. On the Surface examines how contemporary artists deploy unconventional methods in order to challenge classical representations of animals and by doing so fashion tentative pidgin languages that present human fragility alongside the agency of animals. Broglio's dialogue between art and philosophy creates new aesthetic and eco-critical concepts. He provides widely useful conceptual tools by examining "surfaces" and "contact zones" as material and figural sites of negotiated relations between artists and animals. The manuscript is under consideration.

Broglio continues publishing on the visionary poet William Blake and writes occasional essays on digital humanities. He has received fellowships at the Huntington Library and Yale Center for British Art. He is associate editor of Romantic Circles (housed at the University of Maryland) and book review editor of Configurations, a journal on science, technology and culture (published at Johns Hopkins Press). Broglio's essays have appear, among other places, in The Journal of Visual Culture, New Formations, The Wordsworth Circle, Praxis, TEXT Technology, and Visible Language with a forthcoming essay in AI and Society.