Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Moving Towards Science: CFP deadline extension


Following expressions of interest from a number of postgraduates seeking a further opportunity to submit abstracts for the symposium, the call for papers deadline has been extended to 13 August 2012. Abstracts of 250 words for twenty-minute papers should be emailed to movingtowardsscience@gmail.com. The day will be free to attend and we are delighted to be able to offer a number of travel bursaries. Please indicate in your email if you would like to be considered for a bursary.

‘Moving Towards Science in the Long Nineteenth Century’: 
A Postgraduate Symposium
 
12 September 2012, The Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle upon Tyne

Guest speakers:
Professor Jennifer Richards and Dr Anne Whitehead (Newcastle University), Professor David Knight (Durham University), and Dr Peter Garratt (Northumbria University)

The North East Postgraduate Research Group for the Long Nineteenth Century (NENC) invites proposals for a one-day postgraduate symposium held on Wednesday 12 September 2012.

The theme of the symposium reflects two parallel ‘moves’ towards science. First, it references the rise of the ‘natural sciences’, the scientific method, and the professional scientist across the long nineteenth century. Second, it recognises moves in contemporary arts and humanities scholarship towards a more nuanced disciplinary relationship with the sciences and the possibility of ‘one culture’.  Adopting an exploratory methodology, the day will allow postgraduate delegates to think widely about how literary culture of the period approached, adapted, and rejected emergent scientific, technological, and medical discourses and methods. More broadly, we will consider how and why literature and science might move together in the contemporary academy.

Ranging across the early modern period to the end of the long nineteenth century in their areas of specialisation, our guest speakers will consider in particular how they have approached or made use of scientific discourses in their own research. This will provide delegates with an opportunity to gain insight into some of the methodological and theoretical benefits and challenges of a turn towards science. Accordingly, we invite proposals from postgraduates for papers which broadly consider ‘moves’ towards science in the literature of the long nineteenth century, or in contemporary approaches to nineteenth-century literature.

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
  • Defining science then and now: shifting linguistic terms
  • Science in the public arena: the role of institutions in shaping relations between literature and science
  • The popularisation of science through literary forms: prose, poetry, periodical, and pamphlet
  • Reading in new ways: approaching the scientific text across disciplinary lines
  • Specialisation and the figure of the professional scientist 
  • Evolution: approaches, responses, reactions
  • Developing narratives: the Enlightenment, discovery, invention
  • Science in literary forms and the literary form of science
  • Medicine and the burgeoning medical industry
  • Science at the margins: gender, class, race, and geography
  • The collaboration of scientific and literary circles
  • Science and anxiety: resistance to scientific ideas in literature 
  • The rise of psychology and theories of the mind
  • Pseudoscience and quackery: authenticity, belief, demonstration, and revelation

Abstracts of 250 words for 20-minute papers should be submitted by  13 August 2012 to movingtowardsscience@gmail.com.

The symposium is being generously supported by the British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS) and by the three host Universities (Newcastle, Durham, and Northumbria). The day will therefore be free to attend, and we are delighted to be able to offer a number of postgraduate travel bursaries.

Please indicate in your abstract if you would like to be considered for a bursary.


Monday, 30 July 2012

Reading Group Report: Pirates, Cannibals and Highwaymen: Edward Lloyd and the Newgate Tradition

Led by Sarah Lill (Northumbria University)

20 July 2012



This reading group session took place at Newcastle University, and focussed on the material published by Edward Lloyd, a figurehead behind the ‘Penny Dreadful’ publications.  Published in the 1830s and attaining the height of their popularity between 1836 and 1837, we considered how Lloyd hired writers to create stories based upon semi-fictional events from recent history.  These concentrated upon tales of pirates and highwaymen, often including highly sensationalised and lurid narratives.  Sarah began by providing us with an overview of Lloyd’s background as well as the ‘Penny Dreadful’ origins and publication history, which helped to situate and frame the discussion for those of us who were unfamiliar with these kinds of texts.

The two texts we focused upon were ‘Grimes Bolton’, a story about the crimes and comeuppance of a robber, and ‘Charlotte De Berry’, narrating the exploits of a female pirate.  We began by considering themes that linked the two stories.  Firstly, we were struck by the amorality of the narratives, with protagonists characterised as being corrupt by nature.  For example, Grimes disappointed a loving and supportive father with his delinquency, whilst Charlotte left heartbroken parents behind to pursue a life on the high seas.  We also considered how the motif of disguise runs through both narratives.  In the case of Grimes Bolton this was linked to shifting identities, whilst Charlotte de Berry took on male apparel during her career as a pirate.  We thought about how this theme of disguise in relation to criminality differed between men and women.  In the case of the robbers and highwaymen, the disguise functions to subvert class divides, particularly when the aim is monetary gain.  In contrast, Charlotte’s disguise operates in a way that questions concepts of gender.  We remarked how it was significant that when Charlotte returned to land, she resumed female dress, whereas her male outfits on the sea seemed almost to sanction her bloodthirsty and brutal behaviour.  It was suggested that by disguising herself, Charlotte negated her identity as a woman in a way that seems crucial in allowing her to act and think as a pirate.

This suggestion that disguise is linked to criminality led us to consider the most notorious theme in each text – cannibalism.  Whilst both stories provide accounts of shocking crimes – including theft, rape and murder – it is the descriptions of cannibal acts that are arguably the most gruesome.  However, the theme of gender once again seemed to distinguish both texts from each other.  Whilst in ‘Charlotte de Berry’, men are killed and eaten as an act of desperation, in ‘Grimes Bolton’ there exists the unsettling idea that the woman’s body must be preserved, thus justifying their prolonged torture and brutalization.  Such a concept was supported when we examined the illustrations that would have accompanied these stories.  Not only are they shocking even to a present-day reader, but they also uphold this sense of gender distinction in the way that the female body is degraded.
 
Such themes led us to think about why these stories were so popular during this era.  Emerging from the Newgate Chronicle tradition of the eighteenth-century, which inspired Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders amongst others, Lloyd’s stories were most widely read during a period of social upheaval and uncertainty.  We considered whether there was a correlation between the popularity of Lloyd’s publications, and the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.  This was a time in which the new queen and her government were compelled to redress widespread poverty, unrest and political divisions.  In this context, could Lloyd’s dismembered and devoured bodies be viewed as metaphors for the disunity and disease of contemporary society?  It is significant that Lloyd moved in circles that included social reformers like Charles Dickens, and later, W. T. Stead.  We thus wondered whether his gruesome tales functioned as cautionary advice, or as part of a wider desire to bring about social change.
 
The theme of educating society, particularly the working-classes, about the consequences of brutal behaviour and criminality, led us to draw parallels between Lloyd’s themes and those that were popular in children’s literature at the time.  Although Lloyd's stories were clearly intended for an adult audience, we remarked how such tales can be seen as characteristic of a movement in such writing away from texts that preached Christian morality.  For example, it was suggested that similarities could be drawn between Lloyd’s treatment of highwaymen and pirates, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s emphasis upon self-discovery and adventure in Kidnapped (1886) and Treasure Island (1883).  We also noticed how there was a distrust of urbanity in Lloyd’s writing, with the forest and the sea representing a sense of mystery, and more importantly, a sense of distance from the morals of contemporary society.  
We identified in both Lloyd's themes and writing style indications of cultural changes that would be developed throughout nineteenth-century literature.  This session was thus rewarding in terms of introducing us to the ‘Penny Dreadful’ tradition that would culminate in a character who would enjoy an infamous afterlife – Sweeney Todd.  It also raised significant questions in relation to the wider social sphere.


 - Leanne Stokoe, Newcastle University.

Registration open: Octavia Hill centenary conference 27-28 September 2012

‘Nobler imaginings and mightier struggles’: Octavia Hill and the remaking of British society
A centenary conference organised by the National Trust and University of Oxford
Sutton House, London, 27- 28 September 2012



Registration is now open for the Octavia Hill centenary conference. Speakers include Gillian Darley, Jane Garnett, Lawrence Goldman, Paul Readman, Astrid Swenson, Robert Whelan, and William Whyte.

The conference rate is £50 (£40 unwaged/student).

For full details, a draft programme, and a registration form see the conference website here.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Moving Towards Science Reminder - CFP deadline 30 July


A reminder that the CFP deadline for the upcoming symposium organised by NENC on the theme of 'Moving Towards Science' is approaching - abstracts for twenty-minute papers are due 30 July 2012.


‘Moving Towards Science in the Long Nineteenth Century’: 
A Postgraduate Symposium
 
12 September 2012, The Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle upon Tyne

Guest speakers:
Professor Jennifer Richards and Dr Anne Whitehead (Newcastle University), Professor David Knight (Durham University), and Dr Peter Garratt (Northumbria University)


The North East Postgraduate Research Group for the Long Nineteenth Century (NENC) invites proposals for a one-day postgraduate symposium held on Wednesday 12 September 2012.

The theme of the symposium reflects two parallel ‘moves’ towards science. First, it references the rise of the ‘natural sciences’, the scientific method, and the professional scientist across the long nineteenth century. Second, it recognises moves in contemporary arts and humanities scholarship towards a more nuanced disciplinary relationship with the sciences and the possibility of ‘one culture’.  Adopting an exploratory methodology, the day will allow postgraduate delegates to think widely about how literary culture of the period approached, adapted, and rejected emergent scientific, technological, and medical discourses and methods. More broadly, we will consider how and why literature and science might move together in the contemporary academy.

Ranging across the early modern period to the end of the long nineteenth century in their areas of specialisation, our guest speakers will consider in particular how they have approached or made use of scientific discourses in their own research. This will provide delegates with an opportunity to gain insight into some of the methodological and theoretical benefits and challenges of a turn towards science. Accordingly, we invite proposals from postgraduates for papers which broadly consider ‘moves’ towards science in the literature of the long nineteenth century, or in contemporary approaches to nineteenth-century literature.

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
  • Defining science then and now: shifting linguistic terms
  • Science in the public arena: the role of institutions in shaping relations between literature and science
  • The popularisation of science through literary forms: prose, poetry, periodical, and pamphlet
  • Reading in new ways: approaching the scientific text across disciplinary lines
  • Specialisation and the figure of the professional scientist 
  • Evolution: approaches, responses, reactions
  • Developing narratives: the Enlightenment, discovery, invention
  • Science in literary forms and the literary form of science
  • Medicine and the burgeoning medical industry
  • Science at the margins: gender, class, race, and geography
  • The collaboration of scientific and literary circles
  • Science and anxiety: resistance to scientific ideas in literature 
  • The rise of psychology and theories of the mind
  • Pseudoscience and quackery: authenticity, belief, demonstration, and revelation

Abstracts of 250 words for 20-minute papers should be submitted by 30 July 2012 to movingtowardsscience@gmail.com.

The symposium is being generously supported by the British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS) and by the three host Universities (Newcastle, Durham, and Northumbria). The day will therefore be free to attend, and we are delighted to be able to offer a number of postgraduate travel bursaries.

Please indicate in your abstract if you would like to be considered for a bursary.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Symposium: 'Victorian Things'

NENC members may be interested in the following symposium:

Victorian Things: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Material Culture

Oxford Brookes University, Saturday 22 September 2012


This one-day symposium will reflect on, and respond to, the current materialist turn in Victorian Studies and Thing Theory. Nineteenth-century literature is crowded with objects, but traditional methods of interpretation have directed us to focus on characters and plots. Through three thematic sessions, ‘Desirable Things’, ‘Anatomical Things’ and ‘Objects and Memory’, this symposium aims to explore the story of objects as ‘things’ with specific values and meanings in Victorian culture. This exciting day of presentations and discussion will be concluded with a plenary lecture by Professor Isobel Armstrong: ‘“The Thing-Character of the World”: four artefacts in the nineteenth-century novel and four materialisms.’

Delegate fee (including lunch and coffee): £15
Students and unwaged (including lunch and coffee): £10

For bookings and further information contact: Dr. Tatiana Kontou, Dr. Verity Hunt, Dr. Andrew Mangham or Verity Burke: victorianthings12@gmail.com. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Summer Speaker Series

A reminder that the second of our Summer Speaker Series seminars will take place this Friday 6 July at 4pm in the Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Durham University.

Naomi Carle (Durham) will speak on ‘Exploring Stevenson's Scottish Wilderness: 'Pavilion on the Links' and Weir of Hermiston’, followed by Beatrice Turner (Newcastle) on '‘Bodily disorder’, inherited bodies and being ‘face to face’: Sara Coleridge edits her father and herself'.

These seminars are a great opportunity for speakers to present work in a friendly and supportive environment, as well as a chance to hear more about our members research interests, and we hope to see many of you there.

For those who haven't visited the English Department at Durham before, a campus map can be found here. Hallgarth House is on Hallgarth Street; selecting the 'display academic departments' option will bring it up on the map.