Monday, 30 January 2012

Calls for papers: a weekly round up

MLA 2013: Victorian Division panels on Victorian Attention and Victorian Distraction 3-6 January 2013

The 2013 MLA convention will be held in Boston. The Victorian Division seeks abstracts for a panel on Victorian Attention.  Did Victorians attend to their world in particular ways?  Were their concepts of attention themselves distinct from those of other periods?  What does it mean to “pay” attention in the nineteenth century? The Victorian Division also seeks abstracts for a panel on Victorian Distraction.  What are the peculiarly Victorian modes by which attention goes astray?  Why has the nineteenth-century continuum of distraction—from mild absent-mindedness to full-on madness—become so foreshortened?  Who or what drives literary characters to distraction and why?  What is the precise quality of a beneficial distraction?  When does attention become distraction, or vice versa?  What does Victorian psychology have to say about any of these topics?

More information about the CFP, including a list of possible topics, is available here. More information about the 2013 MLA conference is available hereAbstracts of 500 words and CV should be emailed to Elaine Freedgood ( by 1 March 2012.

MLA 2013: Print and Beyond: Publishing Rossetti, Morris and the Aesthetes 3-6 January 2013

As in 2012, the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing and the William Morris Society in the United States are proposing a joint panel for the 2013 Modern Language Association conference. The panel title is "Print and Beyond: Publishing Rossetti, Morris and the Aesthetes".

This proposed joint session with the William Morris Society will consider material presentations of Pre-Raphaelite works in a variety of media.

Abstracts should be submitted to Greg Barnhisel ( by 15 March 2012.

Wounded Bodies, Tortured Souls: Narratives of Victorian and Neo-Victorian Trauma

Postgraduate conference, University of Portsmouth, 14 June 2012.

In recent years the study of trauma has become central to contemporary conceptualisations of personal and collective narratives of pain and loss. Often identified as a ‘modern’ phenomenon, a product of industrialisation and modernisation, trauma emerged as a distinct pathology alongside the rise of a middle-class readership, and accounts of physical and psychological wounds abound in Victorian fiction. In turn, Victorian tropes of trauma have been appropriated by the neo-Victorian novel, often in ways which offer a self-conscious or critical engagement with past representations.

This conference seeks to examine the intersection between the physical and psychical representation of trauma in both Victorian and Neo-Victorian literature. It aims to explore the importance of the relationship between the mind and the body, as well as the relationship between Victorian literary representations and neo-Victorian appropriations. We welcome papers examining representations of trauma in Victorian and neo-Victorian fiction, as well as contributions from the fields of literary theory, cultural studies, and the visual arts.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words for papers lasting 20 minutes, and a brief biographical note (100 words), to Emily Hunt or Alex Messem by 16 March 2012

Extended CFP: Locating Revolution: Place, Voice, Community 1780–1820
Aberystwyth 9–12 July 2012

A conference jointly hosted by the Wales and the French Revolution Project at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies; the Centre for Romantic Studies, Aberystwyth University; and the Department of English, Swansea University.

This conference explores the relation between geography (considered as place, landscape, cartography and real and imagined space) and change during the period of the revolutionary wars. Abstracts for 25-minute papers, and suggestions for panels, should be sent by 16th March 2012 to Angharad Elias (

More information, including a list of suggested topics, is  available here.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Reading Group Report: Romantic Poetry & Science

 'Enlisting Imagination under the Banner of Science'
19 January 2012

Led by Leanne Stokoe (Newcastle)

Leanne opened the session with a short overview of Erasmus Darwin, Sir Humphrey Davy, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, introducing us to their activities in the spheres of both science and literature and setting out some points of intersection to be discussed further. We first noted the archaic style of Darwin’s poetry, his appropriation of earlier poetic forms, and discussed the possible reasons for this stylistic choice. Then discussion widened to query the title of the session, drawn from Darwin’s ‘Advertisement’ to his 1791 publication of The Botanic Garden: ‘The general design of the following sheets is to enlist Imagination under the banner of Science’. We talked about the implications of enlisting imagination for the purposes of science, and asked whether it is more apt to think of science being enlisted for the subject or style of imaginative works, and spoke about the importance of this linguistic twist and its different weighting in the early nineteenth century, the later nineteenth century, and in our own current environment. We also noted the connotations of the terms ‘enlist’ and ‘banner’ in relation to the contemporary political climate.

Attention then moved towards the wider question of the transmission of data into artistic form. Broadly, we discussed what it means to transmit scientific data into the imaginative realm, highlighting Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s distinction between the vulgar copy and the favoured ‘imitation’ of nature. In the latter, it is the process of transformation which the subject undergoes from data (be it scientific or sensory) to artistic and imaginative representation which is important. This led us to mention the renewal of the daffodil between Dorothy and William Wordsworth in their writing; Richard Menke’s essay in this book provides a further elucidation of this point. We then looked in detail at the extracts Leanne provided, noticing the impact of scientific references and their role in the poems. We highlighted the cyclical movement from chemical and mechanistic language to more organic and physiological terms in Davy’s ‘Lo! O’er the Earth’ (1801). Further, the distinctly poetic form of Darwin’s Index to Part II of The Botanic Garden (‘The Loves of the Plants’, 1789) was highlighted.

Whilst talking of form in the extracts, we discussed the arrangement of Darwin’s The Botanic Garden and compared it to Shelley’s Queen Mab (1813). The former presents its notes alongside the poetry, whereas Shelley was adamant that the notes must be kept separate and at the back of the poem. The differing reading experience of this form was then mentioned, and we linked Shelley’s arrangement to his sentiment expressed in a letter to Hookham (26 Jan 1813, I, 350): ‘The notes to Queen Mab will be long and philosophical. I shall take that opportunity which I judge to be a safe one of propagating my principles, which I decline to do syllogistically in a poem. A poem very didactic is I think very stupid’. The reaction here was read with reference to the earlier form of Darwin’s arrangement in which the poem and its notes are literally read alongside each other.

Finally, we talked about the importance of language and signification. Fixing upon this line in Darwin’s Notes: ‘When air is expanded in the air-pump, or water evaporated in steam, they drink up or absorb a great quantity of heat’, we spoke about how descriptions of these types of experiments and their reactions would later be coined endothermic. The importance of naming things, of defining and thereby setting boundaries, was key to our discussion as it demonstrates the protean spheres of the sciences and the arts in this period. After all, the term ‘scientist’ was only coined in 1834 by William Whewell, a number of years after the extracts we had been discussing.

Although we didn’t get chance to discuss in detail the letters from Southey and Coleridge to Davy which Leanne provided, their spirit of excitement and curiosity as to the latest experiments and findings encapsulate the openness between these two discourses. ‘When you write, and do write soon, tell me how I can get your Essay on the Nitrous Oxide. […] Are your Galvanic discoveries important? What do they lead to?’ Southey writes (Oct 9, 1880). Ardency for discovery and a keen interest in modes of expression was something shared by both literature and the sciences, and it is perhaps this mirrored drive to find an adequate system of language which makes this such an interesting topic for study and critical debate – thanks to Leanne for a well-selected programme of extracts to enable this.

Nicole Bush (Northumbria)

Upcoming Conferences in Newcastle

There are a number of exciting events taking place in Newcastle over the next six months which are relevant to the general research interests of the North East Nineteenth Century group, so I thought I'd just give a run-down here of dates for your diary.

The Popular and the Middlebrow: Women's Writing 1880-1940
Newcastle University, 12 April 2012

Moving Dangerously: Women and Travel 1850-1950
Newcastle University, 13-14 April 2012

Romantic Connections: Networks of Influence, c.1760-1835
Newcastle University, 1 June 2012 (CFP Deadline 30 Jan 2012)
BARS Postgraduate and ECR Annual Conference

Situating and Interpreting States of Mind 1700-2000: An Interdisciplinary Conference
Northumbria University, 14-16 June 2012 (CFP deadline 31 Jan 2012)

Taking Liberties: Sex, Pleasure, Coercion, 1748-1928
Newcastle University, 15-17 June 2012

Transforming Objects
Northumbria University, 28-29 June 2012 (CFP deadline 4 March 2012

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

CFP: BAVS 2012, Victorian Value

British Association for Victorian Studies Annual Conference
University of Sheffield, 2012

Victorian Value: Ethics, Economics, Aesthetics

I suppose the persons interested in establishing a school of Art for workmen may in the main be divided into two classes, namely, first, those who chiefly desire to make the men happier, wiser and better; and secondly, those who desire them to produce better and more valuable work (John Ruskin).

The 2012 conference of the British Association for Victorian Studies will be held in Sheffield, the thriving heart of the Victorian Steel Industry. In 1875, on the outskirts of the city, John Ruskin established the Museum of St George, a collection of art objects and natural artefacts displayed for the aesthetic education of the city’s workers. Inspired by Ruskin, the theme of this year’s conference aims to explore the relationships between different kinds of value in the Victorian period, to return to the period’s central debates about how to measure, establish and uphold value in the emergent modernity of Victorian Britain, and to think about the representation and legacy of those values both in and beyond the field of Victorian Studies.

Papers may address, but are not limited to, to following topics:
·      The representation and circulation of different kinds of currency
·      Aesthetes in the marketplace
·      Critical/cultural evaluation, from Ruskin and Arnold to Leavis and beyond
·      The ethical turn in Victorian Studies
·      Political economy and the art of government
·      The transmission of value at home and abroad
·      Value rewritten, from Woolf to Waters
·      Domestic economy and the aesthetics of the home
·      Ethical dilemmas, aesthetic solutions
·      Value on display: collection and exhibition
·      New economies, from Cobden to Carpenter
·      Commodity culture and the value of ‘things’
·      Sincere characters: the ethics of self and text
·      Work ethics: Madox-Brown, Marx and Morris

Please send the title of your paper and an abstract of around 250 words to by 31st March 2012.

See the conference website for details and updates.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

CFP: 'Transforming Objects', Northumbria University

Transforming Objects
28-29 May 2012
Great Hall, Sutherland Building
Northumbria University

Dr Sarah Haggarty (Newcastle) and
Dr John Holmes (Reading).

This two-day conference invites papers that consider the transformation of objects and the transformations effected by objects from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Approaches to this theme are welcomed from established scholars and especially from postgraduate research students.

Object theory and discourses of materiality largely engage with objects as stable items of a permanent nature; this conference seeks to address those moments which slip through the gaps of such readings. We wish to explore the method and process of transformation, the between-ness or not fully realised state of an object or discipline, and to consider its effect upon the culture.

We are keen for papers to address particular historical, cultural, or social environments in which transformations take place or are enabled by. The conference aims to provoke discussion about such moments of change and the important role of objects in transformations between period, discipline, location, and sensation, as well as engaging with more broader considerations of bodily transformation and states of metamorphosis.

We hope the action of ‘transforming’ and the term ‘object’ will be engaged with in their widest sense, and therefore welcome proposals which interpret the conference theme in innovative and expansive ways. Topics of particular interest though include:

  • Psychological transformations, altered states, and hallucinatory experiences
  • Industrial transformation: travel and communication (from railways to cars, the mail coach to the telegraph)
  • Visuality: transformations in perceptual modes and methods.
  • Intertextuality and the transformation of texts within texts
  • Histories of the book, transformations in printing, the effect of technology upon the page
  • The growth of digital humanities and transformed ways of encountering the text
  • Disciplinarity, categorisation, and periodicity: creating and dismantling boundaries
  • Spatial transformations and the experience of movement
  • Serial publishing and transforming temporalities of reading
  • Remediation and the lifecycle of objects
  • Text transformed by objects: experimentalism and additions to the textual page
  • The professionalisation of the sciences and medical practices
  • Adaptation across genre: text into film, theatre, music, or the visual arts
  • It-narratives and the voice of the object
  • Experiencing transformation through the body and the senses
  • Merchandise: from text to cultural commodity item

Please send abstracts (250 words) for 20-minute papers, along with a brief biographical note, to the conference organisers, Nicole Bush and Anna Hope:

The deadline for abstracts is 4 March 2012.

Transforming Objects is supported by the British Society for Victorian Studies (BAVS)

Click here to download the Call for Papers as a Word document.

CFP: 'Viewer, I Married him': Reading (Re)Productions, Univ of Hull

‘Viewer, I married him’: Reading (Re)Productions of the 
Long Nineteenth Century in Period Drama

Conference CFP
29 June, 2012
Derwent Building, University of Hull


Keynote Speakers:
Dr. Sarah Cardwell, University of Kent: ‘Adaptations and Period Dramas: Questions of Genre and Style’
Professor Mark Llewellyn, Director of Research for the AHRC, will lead a postgraduate training session focussed on career development and adapting to an academic career                 

‘Period drama’, or remediated historical adaptations for television and film have long been established genres which are traditionally associated with fancy costumes, pseudo-Victorian settings, and romance. This conference invites scholars working in the fields of literature, film, history, music, and cultural and media studies to consider the wider historical and cultural impact of the ‘period drama’, ‘costume drama’, or filmic adaptation. Our objective is to promote interaction between nineteenth-century and contemporary scholars in order to examine how and why the literature, history, and culture of Britain from 1800-1914 is (re)produced in a modern international context. By analysing the processes through which these literatures and histories are translated into film, we hope to acknowledge and assess the continuing importance of period drama in contemporary culture across the world. Potential papers might include:

·         TV series, programmes or films
·         Direct adaptations of literature (e.g. BBC’s, ITV’s or Roman Polanski’s Tess of the    
·         Modern retellings of nineteenth-century literature (e.g. Clueless)
·         Adaptations derived from Neo-Victorian texts (e.g. Fingersmith)
·         Original screen-plays (e.g. Downton Abbey)
·         Cross-over period dramas (e.g. Lost in Austen)
·         Biopics (e.g. Becoming Jane)
·         International adaptations (e.g. Bride and Prejudice)

As this conference is interdisciplinary in its approach, we are also looking for papers which consider themes associated with literary and cultural studies (class, gender, sexuality, religion, race) and/or the contemporary production/adaptation process, the modern audience and critical responses, and how period drama and contemporary culture impact on one another. The following topics are suggested, but are by no means limited to:

·         Company of production (e.g. BBC,  ITV)
·         Costumes, settings, props
·         Technology, Musical scores
·         Cinematography
·         Casting
·         Screenplays, Performances
·         Intended audience(s), Critical reviews, audience response, media coverage

Since period drama and adaptations serve as popular entertainment, valuable educational resources and are art forms in their own right, we look forward to expanding study on this rich topic by welcoming 300-word abstracts, for 20 minute papers, from postgraduate students, as well as early-career researchers and established academics. To submit abstracts, or for any other queries, please email:

Registration Fee

£25 postgraduate early bird registration fee (deadline 30 April)
£35 academic early bird registration fee (deadline 30 April)
£35 postgraduate late registration fee (after 1 May)
£45 academic late registration fee (after 1 May)

Postgraduate Bursary Information

We are pleased to offer ten full registration fee (£25) bursaries for postgraduate students, thanks to the generous sponsorship of BAVS.  If you are interested in being considered for a bursary, please send with your abstract a CV and a statement (300 word maximum) explaining why you would benefit from attending this conference.

Allison Neal, Jenny Pearce, Janine Hatter, and Maura Dunst
The Postgraduate Period Drama Conference Team

Supported by:
The British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS):
The University of Hull: