Monday, 21 November 2011

Calls for papers: a weekly roundup

“G. B. Shaw: Back in Town”: a Shaw Conference, 20 May - 1 June 2012

“G. B. Shaw: Back in Town,” a Shaw Conference at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland is  co-sponsored by University College Dublin & the International Shaw Society.
This conference is focused on Shaw’s return to Dublin, so to speak, to revisit his Irish identity, and papers discussing his Irish qualities, interrelationships with other Irish, and contributions to Ireland would be welcomed, along with testimony to his stature in and influence on world drama, and other topics as well.

Papers (maximum of twenty minutes per talk) may be written from any critical perspective. Abstracts of approximately 300 words should be submitted to for consideration, along with a c.v and brief letter of introduction, by 27 January 2012.

To apply for travel grant applications and for more information about the conference, please see the Shaw Society website here.

VISAWUS 2012 - Victorian Transnationalism: The Atlantic Legacy in the Long 19th Century, 11-13 October 2012

The Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States (VISAWUS) announces its 17th annual conference to be held 11-13 October 2012  on the campus of SUNY Plattsburgh in Plattsburgh, NY.

The focus of this year's conference is Victorian Transnationalism, with particular emphasis on the Atlantic legacy in the long 19th century.  As the site of a decisive American victory in the War of 1812, Plattsburgh is a testament to the fraught history of the “special relationships” between Britain and her neighbors across the pond. The town is home to an annual re-enactment of the Battle of Plattsburgh as well as historical sites relevant for scholars of the nineteenth century. We encourage papers across all disciplines exploring various aspects of the relations among and between the UK, Canada, the US, and other nations and regions across the Americas.

Email 300-word abstracts and a 1-page CV (name on BOTH) to Genie Babb at by 5 March 2012. For further information on the conference, visit the VISAWUS website here.

“The Ends of History,” Special Issue of Victorian Studies

In the 1980s and 1990s, literary critics and historians occupied a relatively integrated conceptual space through the rise of cultural studies and the “new historicism.” If this interdisciplinary framework was never seamless, “historicization” nonetheless represented a critical project equally palpable to history and literary criticism. The last decade or so, however, has found many critics seeking the revival of form as a key axis for literary study as against a perceived overemphasis on (or reduction to) historical context or ideological content. An early catalyst, MLQ’s 2000 special issue on the topic found Susan Wolfson attempting to “rehabilitate formalist criticism” without simply “cross-dressing it as a version of historicist criticism.” More recently, Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best’s 2010 special issue in Representations questioned the Jamesonian “political unconscious” while opposing the reading of “surfaces” to that of “symptoms,” thus inviting a rigorous rethinking of the mandate to “always historicize.” In a more polemical vein, Rita Felski’s essay “After Suspicion” and her lecture “Context Stinks!” appear to equate historicism with suspicious reading and to find both irreconcilable with the need to “respect . . . what is in plain view.” Still other critics urge “distant reading”: methods like Franco Moretti’s turn to graphs, maps, trees, and (more recently) network theory; or Heather Love’s Latour-inspired “descriptive turn.” Latour’s critiques of “suspicious” reading and “context” have exercised enormous influence across the fields of social-scientific and historical studies (for example, Tim Mitchell, Rule of Experts, and Tom Bender and Igancio Farias, eds., Urban Assemblages). This “descriptive turn” has its own advocates in the historical social sciences which may also provoke questions about what kind of historical analysis befits the formalist exploration of texts (literary and otherwise) and vice versa.

While defenders of suspicion have already come forward (for example, John Kucich, “Unfinished”), this special issue invites essays that take a somewhat different tack. Rather than positions for or against neoformalist, “surface,” and “descriptive” critical practices, the essays we seek will ask what these discussions portend for Victorianist historicism. We ask: Need the turn toward form be a turn away from history and, if so, what does it mean to pursue “Victorian” studies ahistorically or posthistorically? What is the legacy of the “new historicism” and is it incompatible with “what is in plain view”? Do historical writings embed their own hermeneutic instructions independently of critics’ distinctions between depth and surface, close and distant reading? What does history tell us about formalism and what does form tell us about history and historicism? In what new relation to each other are literary studies and history to stand in the wake of a formalist turn?

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2012. Essays of not more than 8,000 words (including endnotes) should be prepared in MLA Style. We encourage submissions not only from literary scholars and historians, but from those in any field (including, for instance, the history of art or of science) whose work engages with relevant questions and issues. Submissions and inquiries should be sent directly to both of the issue’s guest editors by email attachment.
Lauren M. E. Goodlad, University of Illinois,
Andrew Sartori, New York University,


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