Monday, 26 March 2012

Calls for papers: a weekly round up

Castastrophic Masculinities: 2012 International Conference on Romanticism Special Session, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 8-11 November 2012

Despite several key theoretical texts (Foucault, Sedgwick, Haggerty, Elfenbein) focusing on masculinity and sexuality during the Romantic period, scholars have been surprisingly slow to incorporate such theoretical approaches to masculinity and sexuality. This panel seeks papers that draw on, rework, and/or expand knowledge of masculinity and sexuality during the Romantic period by focusing on catastrophic masculinity. What counted as catastrophic masculinity during the period? How were such masculinities constructed through medical, juridical, religious, social, cultural, subcultural, and other discourses? While papers on the canonical Big Six male poets are welcome, the organisers hope to also include papers that situate catastrophic masculinity within more recent understandings of the ever-expanding Romantic canon, including the novel, drama, poetry regardless of the author’s sex, race, or class, and Romantic prose in its various forms between roughly 1780-1830.

In an effort to stimulate scholarship on masculinity and the history of sexuality during the Romantic period, this panel welcomes papers focusing on literary representations of masculinities, bodies, and practices commonly labeled catastrophic, disruptive, or violent during the period.

Suggested topics include:

Sensibility and/as catastrophic masculinity
Catastrophic masculinity in the Oriental tale
Colonialism and catastrophic masculinity
Masculinity and excessive desires and drives
Excessive consumption and/as catastrophic masculinity
Masculine women, effeminate men and/as catastrophic masculinities
Representations of monstrous, unnatural, or unspeakable masculinities as catastrophic
Seduction, abandonment, marriage, and/or reproduction as catastrophic
Disciplinary mechanisms regulating catastrophic masculinity and sites of resistance
Historical, medical, scientific, legal, and religious discourses that deemed specific kinds of masculinity catastrophic

Email one-page abstracts to Dr Nowell Marshall by 1 April 2012.

Richard Marsh: re-reading the fin de siècle
A one-day symposium at the University of Brighton, 20th July 2012

Richard Marsh is best-known for his 1897 novel The Beetle, a gothic bestseller at the time more popular than Dracula. Indeed Marsh was a prolific and extremely successful writer in the 1890s and the early 20th century. Strikingly, however, his writing has until recently been mostly forgotten. With several of his novels and shorter fictions now being republished, this situation is set to change. The symposium seeks to harness renewed academic interest in Marsh towards a reappraisal of his significance for a fin de siècle culture that is often considered to offer a kind of mirror onto our own culture at the start of the 21st century. It will bring together literary and historical specialists of the period to examine Marsh's oeuvre as a whole. A central concern will be to examine how Marsh's ambivalent fiction often works against the grain of more canonical texts and therefore has the potential productively to unsettle what it is thought is known about fin de siècle culture. Understanding late-Victorian / Edwardian questions about gender and sexuality, imperialism, science and the nature of history, surely remain incomplete without negotiating the complex terrain of Richard Marsh's writing.

We invite abstracts for papers on any aspect of Marsh's output, but in particular on the following themes:

Fictions of crime and detection
Discourses of race, empire and eugenics
The New Woman
Homosociality and homosexuality
Late-Victorian understandings of history / the use of the classical past
The literary market-place
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words for 20 minute papers to and by 20 April 2012.

Call for articles: OScholars Conan Doyle Special

Articles of between 1500 and 2500 words are sought for a special issue of the OScholars to be edited by Karen Devlin. Submissions will be accepted by Karen Devlin on the basis of an abstract of around 250 words and will then be double-blind peer reviewed. Subjects may include but are not limited to:

Conan Doyle and Scotland
Conan Doyle and Ireland
Conan Doyle and his contemporaries
The literary legacy of Conan Doyle
The influence of Maupassant on Conan Doyle
The 'Sherlockian' or 'Holmesian' phenomenon
London as metonym in the work of Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot
Conan Doyle as mediaevalist
Conan Doyle and masculinity
Conan Doyle's depiction of women
Conan Doyle and imperialism
Pastiche parodies and plagiarism

Contributors are encouraged to look beyond the Holmes canon. Abstracts should be sent to Karen Devlin by 30 May 2012

'Romantic Legacies': a one-day seminar at Nottingham Trent University, 26 October 2012

The Midlands Romantic Seminar (MRS) is issuing a call for papers for a one day seminar to take place at Nottingham Trent University on Friday the 26th of October 2012 on the subject of ‘Romantic Legacies’. A broad understanding of Romanticism and literary, cultural, political and historical legacies is intended, and an interdisciplinary audience and contributions are welcomed.

A plenary paper from guest speaker Damian Walford Davies (Aberystwyth University) will be followed by papers received in response to this call, and a round table discussion of the material presented to close. Depending on the level of response, the seminar might run over the course of an afternoon, or the whole day. 
Abstracts of 250 words for papers lasting around 20 minutes should be forwarded to Carol Bolton  or Tom Knowles  by 31 July 2012. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require further information.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Workshop report: Exploring Liminal States of Mind

‘Exploring Liminal States of Mind’: a one-day interdisciplinary workshop at Northumbria University, 16 March 2012

This one-day workshop was organised by Northumbria University’s Situating States of Mind research group, and drew together speakers from the fields of philosophy, literary studies and history. The workshop aimed to explore ‘in-between’ mental states, such as sleep, dreaming and the unconscious, from the medieval period to the nineteenth century.

The day opened with a panel entitled ‘Sleeping and Somnambulism in Medieval and Early Modern Europe’. Dr William MacLehose (UCL) spoke about the medieval understanding of sleep, which was informed by Aristotle’s Physical Works, and particularly on the medieval reading of states of sleep considered abnormal or pathological, even dangerous: somnambulism, incubus and nocturnal emissions. This was followed by Sasha Handley’s paper, ‘Sleepwalking, Sensibility and the Nervous Body’. Dr Handley (Northumbria) identified somnambulism as a source of fascination and speculation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and explored the broader significance of sleepwalking in terms of anxieties about  personal identity, imagination, transgression and volition.   She also discussed the desirability of somnambulism, linking this to the fashion for ‘nervous disorders’ and excessive sensibility during the Romantic period.

In the next panel, Tom Stoneham and Rachael Wiseman (York) gave presentations on ‘Liminality, Dreams and Philosophy of Mind’, opening up a philosophical discussion around sleeping and dreaming. Dr Wiseman, in thinking about the dream as something enjoyed while unconscious and subsequently reported, challenged us to think about the ontological status of dreams as experiences that must be communicated.  Professor Stoneham tracked the changing meaning of the word 'dream' across the 17th and 18th centuries, from a rhetorical term  to one that carried radical political meaning, and explored the parallel changes in the understanding of dreams from mechanistic phenomena to the play of imagination during reason's sleep.

After lunch Tony Williams (Northumbria) spoke about Peter Didsbury's poetry,  exploring the value of dreams as poetic material  and the ways in which Didsbury’s images attempt to replicate dream logic. Dr Williams proposed walking to and from work as a liminal state – temporally and geographically, and also between the private and public spheres – which provides opportunities for creative, productive thought. In ‘“Was it a vision or a waking dream?”: Romantic Explorations of Liminal States’, Dr Anita O’Connell (Northumbria) explored the work of Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Hazlitt and Lamb in her discussion of dreams and reveries as creative processes, and the relationship between dreams and the imagination. Did Hazlitt’s lack of appreciation for the Arabian Nights stem, as Coleridge asserted, from his avowed inexperience of dreams? And what was the effect of opium on Coleridge’s very different experience of dreaming? Anita considered the dream as not just an idea, but an ideal, and the notion – played with for instance by Wordsworth – that what we imagine may be more perfect than the reality.

In the final panel, Sally Shuttleworth (Oxford) discussed childhood and the uncanny, and offered a critique of Freud’s theory of infantile sexuality. Professor Shuttleworth examined childhood fears and night terrors in light of James Sully’s Studies of Childhood and suggested that in dreams, as in childhood, we return to bodily supremacy. Finally, Dr Peter Garratt (Northumbria) examined ‘The Varieties of Unconscious Experience’, attending closely to Tennyson’s In Memoriam and the connection between sleep and death. The day closed with a roundtable discussion in which delegates thought about links in states of mind across the early modern to contemporary period covered by the workshop.

This was an interesting and well-run day, and thanks are due to the organisers, including Anita O’Connell. The range of papers was broad and provided an excellent opportunity to engage with scholarship from disciplines beyond English literature, particularly through the inclusion of the two philosophy papers which encouraged us to do some first-principles thinking about dreams as evidence of the uniquely self-reflexive human mind. However the interdisciplinary approach also highlighted something of a missed opportunity: several papers ventured into speculation about the neural state of the dreaming mind and the inclusion of a cognitive or neuroscience perspective could have enhanced some discussions. To take a specific example, Northumbria University is home to the Centre for Sleep Research, and their research into the cognitive, psychological and social causes of sleep/wakefulness patterns and disorders could have added challenging and valuable perspectives.

Finally, the idea of liminal states of mind was interpreted somewhat narrowly, with the majority of papers focussing on sleeping or dreaming states. Opening the interpretation up to include liminal states such as intoxication, madness and mental illness could have made for a richer discussion of what it means to be in a ‘state of mind’. Ultimately, however, this was an very rewarding event. The 'roundtable' format of each panel, small number of delegates and welcoming atmosphere, combined with excellent speakers and discussions, made for a fascinating day.

Harriet Briggs, Rebecca Tobin and Beatrice Turner (Newcastle University)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Reading Group report: Thérèse Raquin

Thérèse Raquin, 15 March 2012, led by Harriet Briggs (Newcastle)

Émile Zola's claustrophobic tale of sex, obsession and murder in the gloomy arcades of nineteenth-century Paris made for a fascinating discussion. None of us had read the novel before, and as a group we had very little knowledge of Zola's work or of the French Naturalist movement of which Thérèse Raquin was a key founding text. This unfamiliarity led to a fantastically discursive and speculative session that proved especially useful for members working in the mid- and late- nineteenth century and the fin de siecle.

We began by considering the setting of the novel. In particular, we were interested in the architecture. Spaces, we felt, were close and ill-lit. The dark and grimy arcade seemed at odds with the light and spacious promenading spaces the Paris arcades usually represented. This arcade was not a public space, and the grime which coated the glass also blurred distinctions between outdoors and indoors and day and night. This led into a discussion of the psycho-geography of the novel – the role of windows, passageways and doorways in occluding or dissolving barriers between different spaces and different states of mind. 

Thinking about the fluidity of internal/external architecture led us to talk more broadly about the permeability of boundaries throughout the novel – between body and mind, between mental states, between respectability and squalor, and, in the grotesque mortuary scene, between the body's interior and exterior. This led us into thinking about Zola's journalistic focus on the diseased city and his public advocacy for the proposal to clean up the Seine and its adjacent slums.

Harriet drew our attention to the Preface to the second edition and in particular Zola's claim that the work was not immoral (and in fact, had no moral) but was rather a strictly scientific observation of the collision of Laurent and Therese's different temperaments. The group was not wholly convinced of this, finding it a disingenuous move. We thought the loss of access to Therese's inner thoughts after the end of their affair ended her development as a character. It suggested that, despite Zola's claim, she had become fixed as the 'fallen woman' and that the narrative was not entirely free of moral judgement. The scene where Laurent followed her through the streets and, seeing her in a first-floor window, realised she had either taken a lover or was a prostitute, further underscored the impression that Therese was mediated through his gaze. The narrative voice was not, we thought, as neutral as it claimed.

We also considered Zola's claims for scientific objectivity in light of the repeated appeals to a separation of the mind and the body that left the soul 'entirely absent' and considered the two lovers as 'human animals'. Upending Romantic and Christian dualisms, the novel prioritises body over mind, reading their behaviour as the natural outcome of changes that 'derive from the flesh [and] are rapidly communicated to the brain and to the entire being'. We found this problematic too: what is 'the entire being' if not the body and brain, and if the soul does not exist? What does this mean for a definition of art and the artist in light of Laurent's physical wasting, consequent increase in artistic power and discovery that he cannot prevent his hand from producing images of the drowned Camille? We weren't sure what to make of this sequence; was Zola claiming artistic talent and emotions (in this case guilt) are located in the body? This led to a discussion about what the artistic and 'gentlemanly' body looks like in this novel. Before he drowns Camille, Laurent is described as a peasant, as big and animalistic and slow. Afterwards, he's not only thin and artistically talented but 'elegant' and 'a gentleman'. We therefore thought there was a strong class element to his change from 'sanguine' to 'nervous' in temperament.

The discussion of Laurent's classed body led into a consideration of class more generally. The group found the novel's depiction of class to be confusing: Madame Raquin is clearly well-off, with the ability to purchase a business and support three adults despite her niece's neglect of the shop, and their friends are from respectable backgrounds. Laurent is a peasant but also has the leisure and money to hire a studio and live a bohemian existence. Yet at the same time they live in a dank and filthy arcade, and when Camille is dead both Laurent and Therese turn to working-class amusements and pastimes: Laurent to visiting the morgue every day, Therese to drinking and streetwalking. We weren't sure whether this was an intentional depiction of people on the fringes of several social groups or a loss of narrative control; Zola's sudden conflation of physicality with intellectual and artistic potential was another moment when the dispassionate narrative voice seemed to unintentionally slip.

Finally, a discussion about the novel's supremely creepy ending led us to all read out the final few sentences from the different editions. Those of us who were able to compared the English descriptions of the final scene with the original French. They were all quite radically different, which sparked a debate about reading in translation and whether the role of the translator was to be faithful to tone or language.

Beatrice Turner (Newcastle)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Calls for papers: a weekly round up

Indian Pluralism and Warren Hastings’s Orientalist Regime,  University of Wales Conference Centre, Gregynog, Powys, 18-20 July 2012

The aim of this conference is to provide a more complete and multidisciplinary picture of the amateur Orientalists of the Hastings circle and the politico-cultural significance of their work. 

Topics could include, but are not limited to:

Literary, linguistic, and scientific contributions of key members of the Hastings circle/Asiatick Society Publications and contributions to academic journals and newspapers of figures such as Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, Charles Wilkins, Richard Johnson, Charles Hamilton, David and James Anderson, Jonathan Scott, Reuben Burrow, Samuel Davis, Henry Vansittart, Antoine Polier, Claude Martin, Sir Robert Chambers, William Chambers, William Kirkpatrick, and John Gilchrist 
Amateur Orientalists’ marriages to, or cohabitation with, Indian women; their working relationships with Indian officials and businessmen; 
collaboration with each other, with ‘President’ Jones, and especially with Indian informants and scribal communities, Hindu pandits, and Muslim munshis and moulavis 
Poetical and political Islam
High-caste sipahis and ‘barracks Islam’ 
The politics of language and of ‘language-money’
Sufi mysticism and Sufi militarism 
Political, commercial and military significance of gosains and bairagis (Śaivite and Vaishnavite monks), Colonial mimicry of Mughal patronage

Proposals for 30-minute papers are invited and should be sent to Michael J. Franklin by  15 April 2012.   

Edited Collection: Victorian Medicine and Popular Culture

Essays are sought for an edited collection on Victorian medicine and popular culture. This essay collection explores the relationship between the increasingly specialized medical disciplines and a variety of texts and contexts, including popular (non-canonical) literature, journalism, advertisements, home medical and nursing manuals, and lectures and exhibitions at and mechanics institutes. The collection also offers perspectives on literature's reciprocal influence on diverse health care fields including nursing, pharmacy, medical philanthropy, health care missionary work, advertising, and quackery.

The proposed collection seeks to add to the growing body of scholarship on Victorian scientific and medical writing by considering representations of health care within specifically popular fields.  How can we understand the relationships that existed between consumerism, health care, and popular literature in the Victorian period? When and how was lay practice or its representation complimentary, and when was it a form of resistance to increasingly professionalized and scientific medicine? How do popular texts and artifacts of the period represent medical and popular health care trends of the era, such as the scientific revolution in Victorian healthcare? How did visual iconography including advertisements reflect changing views of health care practitioners and consumers? We invite interdisciplinary scholarship and work drawn from a range of disciplines: art history, literature, history, anthropology, public health, sociology, and communications to broaden our understanding of the non-elite bodies of professionals, texts, and cultures that influenced Victorian health care policy and practice.

Please send abstracts to Louise Penner or Tabitha Sparks by 15 May 2012, or complete essays (3,000-7,000 words) by 30 June 2012.

Essay Collection on News of the World: ‘Journalism for the Rich, Journalism for the Poor’ 1843-2011

Editors: Laurel Brake, Chandrika Kaul, Mark W. Turner
Publisher: ‘Studies in the History of the Media’, Palgrave Macmillan

Founded in 1843, the News of the World was one of the UK’s longest-running and most popular Sunday newspapers when it came to its inauspicious end in the summer of 2011. As the UK’s Leveson Inquiry, due to report in 2013, continues to unravel details about the recent ‘hacking’ scandal, the News of the World will continue to make the news for some time to come.

We are organizing a volume of essays and seek articles of 7000 words on any aspect of the newspaper’s history, from the 19th century through the present, which help to deepen our understanding of this
title and of media history more generally.

Key themes and topics might include:

The genre of Sunday papers, in/since the 19th century
Newspaper Form:  layout, multiple editions, departments, etc.
Illustration and Photography: the New Journalism, Photojournalism, etc.
Readerships and Circulations: ‘metropolitan’ and ‘country’; provincial editions/readers; international
Empire: decolonisation; popular cultures
Comparative Readings: America, Empire, etc.
Investigative journalism: 19th, 20th, 21st centuries
Politics and the Popular Press: 19th, 20th, 21st centuries
The Economics of the Popular Press
Crime and Court Reporting
War and the Popular Press: e.g. Crimea, Boer, WWI, WW2, Falklands
Sports News, since the 19th century
Sex and the Popular Press
Proprietors and Media Moguls
Practices of Newsgathering since the 19th century
Press Freedom  and Press Controls
The Closing of the NOTW: the rise of the Sunday Sun

Please send proposals of up to 250 words, for articles of between 6000-7000 words, to Laurel BrakeChandrika Kaul and Mark Turner by 31 May 2012.

We aim to inform authors that they have been selected for the volume by the middle of June 2012. Completed articles will be due to the editors by the end of December 2012, and we expect publication in 2013. Please see the Palgrave Macmillan website for style guidelines.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Registration open: Moving Dangerously: Women and Travel, 1850-1950

'Moving Dangerously: Women and Travel 1850-1950' is a two-day interdisciplinary conference to be held at Newcastle University on 13-14 April 2012. The conference will explore the changing relationship of women and travel across key moments in modernity, such the First World War and its effects on women’s independence, the developments in British Imperial activity, and the boom in rail, air and sea travel. The conference aims to stimulate academic discussion on a range of topics relating to women and travel in the period ranging from 1850-1950. These topics include representations of women and travel in fiction and film, non-fictional portrayals and documentations, as well as archival work on first-hand accounts of women travellers.

The conference has attracted a fascinating range of papers from across  the fields of Literature, History, Geography, Film and Media, Modern Languages, Gender/Women’s Studies, and Politics. The draft programme has been released and can be viewed here. Registration is now open here; the last booking date is 6 April.

The conference is presented in association with the Gender Research Group and the Long-Nineteenth Century Research Cluster at Newcastle University, and is supported by a grant from the Catherine Cookson Foundation.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Calls for papers: a weekly round up

MLA Boston 2013: Building Ethnic and National Identities through Life Writing
A panel of the Biography, Autobiography, and Life Writing  division, 3-6 January 2013

Historically and today, autobiographies and biographies have often been deployed to help construct ("imagine" in Anderson's terms) an ethic, national, or other  type of community in many places of the world. Please note that the submission must have to do with a how a life writing text has contributed to the building of a certain community.
Send 250-word abstracts and a 1-page cv to Irene Kacandes by Thursday 8 March. More information can be found here.

Writing Mothers\Daughters: 1780-2012
Newman University College, Birmingham, 28 June 2012

Women’s writing owes its current prominence to the major achievements of second-wave feminist scholars who sought to recover its past and shape its present. They articulated a ‘political need’ to establish a female literary history as well as a ‘continuing need’ for women to ‘claim cultural legitimacy through authorising themselves’ (Eagleton, 2005). This project placed particular emphasis on the Romantic period as an age of proto-feminist activity and established a literary line between these foremothers, their nineteenth-century daughters, and an emerging body of contemporary women writers. The legacy of this literary line can be seen in the tendency of writers and critics to privilege women who identify as daughters, thus examining post-war female subjectivity in terms of an often fraught relationship with the mother. Recent writing and criticism has begun to reverse this perspective by prioritising the mother’s point of view and the examination of maternal subjectivities.

This one day conference seeks to examine representations of mother\daughter relationships – past and present – and to show that by attending to these narratives we can more acutely assess the varied and shifting dynamics between mothers and daughters as they exist within a range of historical, cultural and spatial contexts. Abstracts of 250 words and a short biographical note should be emailed to both and before Friday 30 March. More information on the conference can be found here.

Hard Cash: Money, Property, Economics and the Marketplace in Victorian Popular Culture
Victorian Popular Fiction Association 4th Annual Conference, Institute for English Studies, University of London, 11 – 13 July 2012

The VPFA conference is now an established event on the annual conference timetable and offers a friendly and invigorating opportunity for established academics and postgraduate students to share their current research.  The theme this year enables us to develop the interdisciplinary study of nineteenth-century popular culture, and to map changing attitudes to money and economics across the period. Papers relevant to the theme may be drawn from any aspect of Victorian popular culture and may address literal or metaphorical representations of the theme.
VFPA is committed to the revival of interest in understudied female and male popular writers which is pivotal to the reputation this conference has established.  Proposals are sought for 20 minute papers on any aspect of the above theme. Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to either Jane Jordan or Greta Depledge by Monday 30 April 2012. More information about the conference can be found here.

Call for essays: Gender and the Law in Nineteenth-Century England

The nineteenth century was a period rife with watershed moments in the history of law and gender in England. It is also a period marked by contradictions: legislation that granted women greater rights under the law took place in fits and starts, and was never unaccompanied by cultural and social backlash. The period began, in 1801, with a national census that revealed women outnumbered men by 400,000, and ended with the repeal of the discriminatory Contagious Diseases Acts (1866) and the passage of the First Married Woman's Property Act (1870).  Debates about the relationship between women and the law, and their attendant questions (e.g. Were women legal persons? Could they be?), permeated the legislation, court cases, newspapers, serials, and novels of the day. The roles, and legal power, of English men were also in flux during the period. The rise of industrialism, as well as the middle class, challenged the masculinity of the landed and leisured male aristocrat. Laws that granted women greater rights in marriage, divorce, and ownership of earnings and property served to challenge the centrality of the male patriarch in traditional family structures. In turn, masculinity became increasingly defined by both state-sponsored and independent imperial ventures in the colonies. And by the end of the nineteenth century, a new version of manhood came into being. The rise of the aesthetes, as represented by the publicity surrounding Oscar Wilde, and the criticism of the aesthetes, as symbolized by his rather public trial, serve as the most infamous example of events that brought to light growing anxieties about masculinity, sexuality, and the law.

Please send complete papers (of between 5,000 and 8,000 words) electronically for consideration to the guest editors of the special issue, Prof. Katherine Gilbert and Prof. Julia Chavez. The deadline for submissions is 15 May 2012.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

March session of the North East Forum

The March meeting of the North East Forum in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies will be held on Friday 9 March, from 3-5pm. This time it is hosted by Northumbria University and will be held in the Lipman Building, Room 121, which appears as building number 15 on the campus map.

In the first hour, Adam Smith (Sheffield), will give a paper entitled '“Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators”: Text as Spectacle in the Ordinary of Newgate's Accounts'. After the break, NENC member Helen Stark (Newcastle) will give a paper entitled '“Nation [as] moral essence, not ... geographical arrangement”: Burke's hierarchies of inclusion and exclusion in the 1790s'.

For more information about the Forum, see this previous post. The Forum is always a great opportunity to meet and socialise with researchers working in the North East, with sessions normally concluding in the pub. We hope to see many of you there.