Women’s Scientific Travelling, 1750-1850
A Panel at Borders and Crossings/Seuils et Traverses: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Travel Writing, 2-5 July 2012, Centre for Quaker Studies, University of Birmingham, UK
It is often assumed, in both scholarly and popular accounts of travel and travel writing, that scientific travel and exploration was a male preserve until at least the twentieth century. The same received wisdom, moreover, usually suggests that the many women travellers of earlier eras typically travelled in a more desultory and dilettante fashion – as devotees of the picturesque, for example, or as ‘sentimental’ tourists. Yet recent scholarship has begun to question and problematize these stereotypical views, especially in relation to many women travellers of the late 19th century. As several studies have shown, travellers such as Isabella Bird and Mary Kingsley undoubtedly made important contributions to contemporary science, although the gender norms of their day usually required them to be self-deprecating and to disclaim the highly esteemed label of ‘explorer’. Less well-known, however, are Bird and Kingsley’s many precursors in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Maria Graham, for example, became in 1824 the first woman to publish in the Transactions of the Geological Society, when she contributed a report on an earthquake she had witnessed in Chile. Sarah Bowdich, meanwhile, accompanied her husband on an expedition to the Gambia river in 1822, and made numerous scientific discoveries in her own right; she is credited, for example, with being the first woman to discover a whole new genera of plants.
Women’s Scientific Travelling, 1750-1850 is intended as an interdisciplinary panel which can shed further light on these precursors to Bird and Kingsley. We accordingly welcome papers exploring any aspect of the intersections between women, science and travel and travel writing in this period. This can include topics such as:
- women who travelled in scientific spirit, conducting fieldwork or other forms of research
- women who used travel writing as means of engaging with, or contributing to, contemporary scientific debate
- the discursive and rhetorical difficulties faced by women in adopting a scientific persona on the page
- the wider intellectual and cultural networks which enabled and assisted women’s participation in contemporary science.
Please email Dr Carl Thompson with a short abstract and biographical details by 30 April 2012.
Victorians Institute 2012: "Victorian Mixed Media", 19-21 October 2012, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
The Victorians Institute, an interdisciplinary scholarly organization founded in 1972, invites proposals for papers for the 2012 meeting, to be held at Virginia Commonwealth University in downtown Richmond. The deadline for proposals is 1 May 2012.
The full call for papers, including contact details, can be found here, and information about the Institute and the scholarly annual Victorians Institute Journal can be found here.
Dickens Day 2012: Dickens and Popular Culture, 13 October 2012, Senate House, London
Dickens Day, now in its 26th year, is celebrating 2012 with a theme that explores Dickens’s popularity and his engagement with non-elite cultures from his own time to the present. On the evidence of bicentenary Dickens fervour, the author is as popular now as he has ever been. This year has been punctuated by Dickens serials on TV, heartfelt tributes from popular writers, mass-selling biography, collective reading projects, Dickens hip-hop performances, and a global read-a-thon. How can we account for this continuing engagement, across different genres and various cultural contexts? What is it that allows Dickens’s work its particular “portability” (to use Juliet John’s term)? And what are the political and personal investments in forms of Dickensian popularity? How does this relate to Dickens’s own aspirations, and to the forms in which his work first appeared? These are some of the questions that the day seeks to address.
Proposals are sought for 20-minute papers from Dickensians of all backgrounds and career stages. There will be a panel featuring research inspired by that of the late Sally Ledger, whose book Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination is an important foundation for our thinking about this event. Please indicate on your proposal if you would like to be considered for this panel.
Topics might include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
- Popular entertainment and culture, fairs, circuses, street performers, Astley’s, ‘The Amusements of the People’, Hard Times;
- Theatre, film, television, adaptations in all media;
- Neo-Dickensiana, re-tellings and re-imaginings, Drood completions;
- Public Readings (by Dickens and others), Penny reading groups;
- The Press, journalism, editing, reporting;
- Charitable activities, Urania Cottage, Hospital for Sick Children, Working Men’s Institutes;
- Schools and education;
- Literary festivals, Dickens tourism, museums, homes, walking tours, the ‘Dickens World’ theme park;
- Global impact, the reception of Dickens abroad, Dickens in non-Western and colonial and postcolonial cultures and contexts;
- Celebratory exhibitions and events;
- Advertising; technological developments;
- Rap, hip-hop, dance, performance art: non-literary mediations of Dickens’s work;
- Bicentennial representations and interpretations of Dickens, his life and his work.
Please send proposals (maximum 500 words) to Bethan Carney, Holly Furneaux and Ben Winyard. The deadline for paper proposals is 31 May 2012.