“Past and Present: New Directions in Victorian Studies”

Abstract Deadline: July 1, 2016

Date: October 29, 2016

Location: Loyola University Chicago

CFP Link

Keynote Speaker:  Dr. Elaine Hadley, The University of Chicago
In Past and Present (1843), Thomas Carlyle states, “The condition of England, on which many pamphlets are now in the course of publication, and many thoughts unpublished are going on in every reflective head, is justly regarded as one of the most ominous, and withal one of the strangest, ever seen in this world.”
The Victorians were deeply invested in establishing the historical importance and future significance of their own time.  If thinkers like Thomas Carlyle read the past as a means to critique and shape the present, how do our own interpretations of the Victorian period reveal our understanding of contemporary society?  Why do we recall and historicize certain aspects of Victorian life and culture in the present day?  How should scholars in the 21st century understand the Victorian preoccupation with history?  Finally, can readings of the Victorian period provoke examination of the reasons behind the development of our own interpretative lenses?
LUCVS solicits paper proposals addressing these questions. Possible CFP categories include, but are not limited to the following: Nineteenth century, Gothic, Textual Studies, Queer theory, Women and Gender Studies, Art History, Marxist theory, Narrative theory, Post-colonialism, Religious studies, Theology, Poetics.
Please send abstracts no longer than 300 words to lucvictoriansociety@gmail.com no later than July 1, 2016. We welcome the research of professors, academics, independent scholars, and graduate students.

“Victorian Taste,” MVSA 2017

Abstract Deadline: September 30, 2016

Dates: April 28-30, 2017

Location: Oberlin College, Ohio

CFP Link

What was Victorian taste? How did British Victorians at home and abroad discuss, theorize, market, judge, and consume taste? How was taste imagined and envisioned in relation to literary, visual, and musical arts? How did new knowledge of Britain’s historical and aesthetic past impact tastes of contemporary Victorians? MVSA’s 2017 conference invites papers that reflect fresh and current thinking about taste and the Victorians. Proposals are sought from scholars working in art history, musicology, history, science, philosophy, theater, and literature. We particularly encourage presentations that will contribute to cross-disciplinary discussion.

The 2017 conference will be held at Oberlin College & Conservatory, in the 1963 Minoru Yamasaki-designed buildings that reflect the neo-gothic splendor of some of the college’s oldest buildings. Aside from attending panels, seminars, and the Jane Stedman plenary lecture, conference participants will have the opportunity to tour a special Victorian exhibit at the Allen Memorial Art Museum and attend “What the Victorians Heard,” a concert by Oberlin’s Collegium Musicum (directed by Steven Plank), as well as dozens of other ongoing musical and theatrical performances.

The deadline for proposals will be September 30, 2016. The official call for papers and additional information about the conference will soon be available. Download the “Victorian Taste” save-the-date flyer here.

“Memory and Commemoration,” NCSA 2017

Abstract Deadline: September 30, 2016

Dates: February 2-4, 2017

Location: Charleston, SC

CFP Link

The NCSA program committee invites proposals on any aspect of “memory and commemoration” in the nineteenth century. From photographs and locks of hair to jubilee processions and civic monuments, nineteenth-century men and women sought to commemorate, preserve, and utilize personal and collective memories and histories. How did individuals remember loved ones, or their own histories? How did they celebrate corporate visions of the past, or dispute visions put forward by others? How were interpretations of the past used as tools of revolution, nation-building, imperialism, and other political activities? In what ways did new economies of tourism and consumerism support a culture of commemoration? How, too, have memories of the nineteenth-century past been contested by later generations? Topics might include civic commemorations, jubilees, holidays, public memorials, architectural changes, cemeteries, elegies, death rituals, photography, souvenirs, memoirs and autobiographies, or literary and artistic uses of the past. Papers may also analyze theoretical concepts of memory, invented traditions, and contested spaces, as well as interdisciplinary and alternate interpretations.

Send 250-word abstracts with 1-page CVs to ncsacharleston2017@gmail.com by September 30, 2016. Abstracts should include author’s name, institutional affiliation and paper title in the heading. They welcome panel proposals with three panelists and a moderator or alternative formats with pre-circulated papers and discussion. Please note that submission of a proposal constitutes a commitment to attend if accepted. Presenters will be notified in November 2016. Graduate students whose proposals have been accepted may submit completed papers to apply for a travel grant to help cover transportation and lodging expenses. Scholars who reside outside of North America and whose proposals have been accepted may submit a full paper to be considered for the International Scholar Travel Grant (see NCSA website for additional requirements: http://www.nscaweb.net).

“Dark Romanticism,” ICR 2016

Abstract Deadline: May 25, 2016

Dates: October 20-23, 2016

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

CFP Link

At the turn of the nineteenth century, ‘dark’ engineers – working at the intersection of artistic imagination and technological ‘progress’ – produced a number of automata, robots, and other simulations of life, both via literary conceptualization and in material realizations. While in some circles these developments were heralded as scientific advancement, in others dire warnings were sounded against such uncanny imitations of life – ‘horrid aberrations,’ the production of which evinced technological hubris, the arrogance of Enlightenment philosophy, and the vain attempt of science to supplant God and nature in the act of creation. Indeed, these manufactured monsters were sometimes taken as assaults upon human identity, psychology, and religion.

In line with the conference theme of “Dark Romanticism,” we are proposing a session of 15-20 minute papers on “Dark Romantic Automata,” to focus on the broadest possible interpretation of the title. We encourage submissions of 300-word abstracts by May 25, 2016 to Chris Clason clason@oakland.edu and Michael Demson mtd007@shsu.edu on this topic.

“Border States,” MMLA 2016

Abstract Deadline: April 30, 2016

Dates: November 10-13, 2016

Location: St. Louis, MO

CFP Link

The Midwest Modern Language association invites proposals for the 2016 conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Papers are accepted on any topic, yet participants are welcome to consider this year’s conference theme: “Border States.”

“Border States” is inspired by the 2016 conference location in the historic and culturally rich city of St. Louis, Missouri—a site shaped by indigenous, French, Spanish, and U.S. contact and conquest; by efforts to maintain and topple the institution of slavery; by western expansion; by the Great Migration, white flight, and urban renewal; and by refugee resettlement. Today, St. Louis serves as a continued reminder of both stubborn divisions and promising coalitions across lines of race, class, region, and nation that continue to shape lives and inform literature. As a result, we encourage papers that tackle the issue of “Border States” in both literal and figurative senses. Topics could include, but are not limited to, the following: Continue reading

“Border States” Dickens Society, MMLA 2016

Abstract Deadline: April 30, 2016

Dates: November 10-13, 2016

Location: St. Louis, MO

CFP from VICTORIA-Listserv

The Dickens Society invites proposals for a sponsored panel at the 2016 conference of the Midwest Modern Language Association in St. Louis, Missouri. Papers on any aspect of Dickens’s works will be considered, but we are especially interested in proposals that engage the broader MMLA conference theme, “Border States.”  The theme is inspired by the 2016 conference location in the historic and culturally rich city of St. Louis, Missouri—a site shaped by indigenous, French, Spanish, and U.S. contact and conquest; by efforts to maintain and topple the institution of slavery; by western expansion; by the Great Migration, white flight, and urban renewal; and by refugee resettlement. Today, St. Louis serves as a continued reminder of both stubborn divisions and promising coalitions across lines of race, class, region, and nation that continue to shape lives and inform literature. We therefore encourage papers that tackle the issue of “Border States” in both literal and figurative senses.

Topics might include, but are not limited to, the following: Dickens’s imaginative engagements with geographic borders, empire, nationalism, or cosmopolitanism; with travel, crossings, and cultural and economic exchanges; with psychology and states of consciousness; with states of matter and transition; with inter-generic adaptations and innovations; with Victorian urbanization and suburbanization; with the evolving stat(us) of authorship, publication, and the book market; or with states of personal, biological, or psychological transition such as adolescence, migration, marriage, parenthood, or illness and death.

Please send 500-word abstract and brief (1-page) CV to Sean Grass at scgrass@iastate.edu. Proposals are due April 30, 2016, and authors will be notified by June 1, 2016.

“Music and Politics in Britain, c. 1780-c.1850 (International)

Abstract Deadline: June 1, 2016

Location: King’s College, London

Dates: June 2-3, 2017

CFP from BAVS Listserv

Music was everywhere in early nineteenth-century British politics. Coronations, commemorations, marches, protests, dinners, toasts, rallies, riots, festivals, dances, fundraisers, workplaces, streets—all hummed to the sounds of music. It provided anthems for anointing and songs for sedition, rhythms for rituals and ballads for ballots, chants for charters and melodies for militaries. In all these spaces, media, and fora, radicals, reformers, loyalists, and conservatives all competed for the best tunes. And they did so because of their belief in music’s capacity to affect its listeners—to arouse joy and indignation, sadness and sympathy, merriment, mischief, and mirth—and its ability to bind participants together in new visions of community, nation, and identity.

Yet, for all its omnipresence, music often struggles to be heard in the dusty silence of the archive. Music’s evanescence and impermanence defies established, text-based methods of historical enquiry. Indeed, most historical analysis of music and political culture has focused exclusively on song lyrics. We need a much broader frame of analysis to understand how music connects to the political. Music, text (if present), and the circumstances and social dynamics of performance, all combine to generate a range of meanings for those taking part—one person’s pleasant entertainment might be another’s call for revolution, and for some, both at once. This multiplicity of meanings projected by musical performance is at once challenging and beguiling, precisely for the ways in which it variously circumvents, contradicts, reinforces, or interweaves with the textual elements of political discourse. Bringing music to the centre of analysis has rich potential to offer fresh insight into political traditions, symbols, divisions, and struggles. An explicit aim of this conference is to facilitate this by promoting a deeper interdisciplinary exchange between historians, musicologists, and scholars of visual, literary, and theatrical culture.

To these ends, we invite proposals for papers from scholars in any discipline that address the role of music in political culture in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. Chronological boundaries are flexibly conceived, and proposals for papers which address earlier and later periods but which overlap with 1780–1850 are welcome.

The conference will consist of a series of roundtable discussions among all participants of pre-circulated papers. Papers will be circulated by 12 May 2017. Once revised, these will form the basis of a collection of essays on the intersection of music and political culture in this period. The conference is supported by the ERC-funded project ‘Music in London, 1800–1851’ led by Professor Roger Parker. There is no registration fee, accommodation and dinner will be provided, and travel costs will be reimbursed where possible.

Abstracts (max. 500 words) for 5,000 word papers should be sent, with a short biography, to david.kennerley@history.ox.ac.uk by 1 June 2016.

For more information please contact the organisers, Drs David Kennerley (Oxford) and Oskar Cox Jensen (King’s College London) at david.kennerley@history.ox.ac.uk or oskar.cox_jensen@kcl.ac.uk. Continue reading

“Pernicious Trash? Victorian Popular Literature, 1830-1880” (International)

Abstract Deadline: April 30, 2016

Date: September 12, 2016

Location: Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies (Leeds, UK)

CFP Link

There is now before us such a veritable mountain of pernicious trash, mostly in paper covers, and “Price One Penny”; so-called novelettes, tales, stories of adventure, mystery and crime; pictures of school life hideously unlike reality; exploits of robbers, cut-throats, prostitutes, and rogues, that, but for its actual presence, it would seem incredible.

When people think of Victorian literature, authors such as Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy, and Oscar Wilde spring to mind. Yet alongside these authors there existed a multitude of more ‘popular’ authors such as G. W. M. Reynolds, Pierce Egan the Younger, Henry Downes Miles, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and Ellen Wood. Furthermore, numerous anonymous writers week after week churned out popular pieces of mass-market fiction for readers’ enjoyment. In view of this, the interdisciplinary ‘Pernicious Trash’ conference seeks proposals for 20 minute papers which examine the ‘cheaper’ side of literature during the long nineteenth century (‘virtuous trash’ such as religious/moralist magazines and papers on The Penny Magazine are also welcome). Such topics might include:
Continue reading

“Embarassing Bodies: Feeling Self-Conscious in the Nineteenth Century” (International)

Abstract Deadline: April 22, 2016

Date: June 17, 2016

Location: Birkbeck, University of London

CFP Link

I begin to think that instead of being, as I once thought I was, the most self-conscious person living, I am much less self-conscious now […] than almost anybody.”
(John Stuart Mill, Letters, 1834)

Why were the Victorians so keenly aware of themselves? Why is the articulation of embarrassment such a preoccupation of nineteenth-century culture? The period is one in which both ‘embarrassment’ and ‘self-conscious’ first take on their modern meanings, and in which scientific, literary, and visual cultures seek to explore the links between the body and emotional expression. How might we approach this anxiety surrounding awkwardness? And what might be the links between embarrassment and modernity?

This one-day symposium, funded by a Wellcome Trust ISSF Grant, will explore embarrassing moments in the nineteenth century, and consider the range of ways in which the period’s writers and thinkers represent and conceptualise these experiences. From the ungainly bodies of Dickens’s greatest comic creations to the highly-charged moments of shared shyness in the novels of Eliot, and from Darwin’s explorations of the physiology of blushing to Rossetti’s red-cheeked Fair Rosamund, nineteenth-century culture is fascinated and energised by such moments of bodily preoccupation. This symposium hopes to draw together researchers from a range of disciplines, to consider these articulations of embarrassment across literary, scientific, philosophical, and visual cultures of the period.

Proposals of up to 300 words for papers of 20 minutes should be sent to e.curry@bbk.ac.uk by Friday 22nd April 2016.

“The First of May: Politics in the Victorian Imagination” (International)

Deadline: April 11, 2016

Dates: July 6-8, 2016

Location: Gladstone’s Library (Wales)

CFP Link

Personally commissioned by Queen Victoria, Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s The First of May 1851 depicts Arthur, Duke of Wellington, exchanging gifts with Prince Arthur, Wellington’s godson and the seventh child of Victoria and Prince Albert. The painting symbolises a particular vision of Victorian self-definition: victorious in war, conservative in government, expanding overseas and titans of industry. Both Arthurs were born on the 1st May; the elder a leading military and political figure who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo and was twice Prime Minister, the younger a prince who would oversee much of the Victorian empire into the twentieth century. Prince Albert’s attention is distracted by the Crystal Palace, the setting for The Great Exhibition that celebrated Britain’s role as an industrial leader. Continue reading

2016 Wordsworth Summer Conference (International)

Abstract Deadline: April 15, 2016

Dates: August 8-18, 2016

Location: Rydal Hall,Cumbria

CFP Link

We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers on all aspects of William Wordsworth, his contemporaries and the Romantic period. Papers that identify a bicentenary theme, 1816–2016, will be welcomed.

Proposals: 250 word proposals for papers of no more than 2750 words, together with a brief autobiographical paragraph, should occupy no more than 2 sides of A4 (they will be copied into a composite file). Please do include your name, institution and e-mail address on the abstract. Please do not send it as a pdf file. Proposals should be e-mailed by 15 April 2016 to proposal.wsc@gmail.com

All other enquiries about accommodation, costs etc. should be e-mailed to the Conference Administrator, Carrie Taylor, at carriegrasmere@aol.com

Continue reading

“Screening the Victorians in the Twenty-First Century”

Abstract Deadline: March 15, 2016

Articles, if accepted due: October 15, 2016

CFP from VICTORIA List-serv

2017 Special Issue of Neo-Victorian Studies

Despite frequent predictions of their disappearance, appropriations of the Victorian era never quite seem to leave our film, television and computer screens. Indeed, in popular prime-time viewing from Doctor Who (2005-) to Sherlock (2010-) and Penny Dreadful (2014-), and in cinematic blockbusters such as Sweeney Todd (2007), Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Crimson Peak (2015), the Victorians remain a particularly visible part of present-day culture. This special issue will explore recent popular screen Victoriana ‘for the masses’ and the politics of its production, distribution, audience reception and consumption. We seek contributions that engage with the breadth of screen media, from big-budget film and television series produced by the likes of the BBC and Showtime to online web-series created by small production companies and non-professionals. How has screen Victoriana developed since the millennium? How might we address questions of neo-Victorianism’s periodization via the film medium? In a time when transnational co-production is increasingly common, how important are national origins and audiences in shaping neo-Victorianism on screen? What ‘sells’ these myriad moving images of the nineteenth century? Wherein resides their distinctive appeal and what meanings, values, and affects do audiences invest therein? Possible topics could include but are by no means limited to:

Continue reading

NEH Summer Seminar, “Mapping, Text, and Travel”

Deadline: March 1, 2016

Dates: July 11-August 12, 2016

Location: Newberry Library (Chicago, IL)

Program Link

The five-week NEH Seminar, led by James Akerman and Jordana Dym, will examine the complex relationship between text, mapping, and travel from the emergence of the modern world to the dawn of the digital age, focusing on the genre of travel mapping within the wider context of the history of cartography and travel publication. The program of lectures, workshops, and discussions encourages 16 participants to cross disciplinary boundaries and move beyond regional and chronological specialties to reflect on the ways in which mapping has shaped travelers’ imagination and the experience of place and landscape, of identity and history, and of time and space. The seminar will embrace a broad geographical and chronological focus on the Atlantic World richly supported by the Newberry’s rich holdings of cartography, geography, art, history, literature, and the history of printing from the 15th to the 21st centuries.

Continue reading

NEH Summer Seminar: “Take Note and Remember”

“Take Note and Remember: The Commonplace Book and Its American Antecedents”

Deadline: March 1, 2016

Dates: July 17-July 31, 2016

Location: Asheville, NC

Program Link

How do we manage information overload and make our own sense of the world? How, why, and in what ways do we take note and remember? Feeling overwhelmed with information is not only an aspect of the digital age. Earlier attempts to manage and make sense of information are found from the medieval period on, but especially in commonplace books and scrapbooks from the 18th through the 20th century. Commonplace books (books containing noteworthy text and images copied from other sources) and their descendants, the scrapbook, photo album, memory book, journal, anthology, and others, are holders of meaning, memory, identity, and place. Today many take the form of Pinterest or blogs. All are attempts made to manage and make personal sense of information.

We look forward to bringing together a diverse, collegial, interdisciplinary group of college and university teachers from across the United States to join us in the beautiful, historic region of Asheville, North Carolina. Together we will create an immersive experience with these exceptionally rich artifacts, which capture in words and/or images records of lived experience.

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NEH Summer Seminar: “Postsecular Studies and the Rise of the English Novel, 1719-1897”

Deadline: March 1, 2016

Dates: July 11-August 5, 2016

Location: University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

Program Link

What role do religion and secularization play in the rise of the novel? This seminar takes up the insights of postsecular studies to help scholars chart new accounts of the rise of the English novel and enrich their individual research in religion, secularism, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels.

The renewed focus on religion which scholars have termed the ‘religious turn’ began in the 1990s and has come of age in recent years. It has brought with the recognition that division between the religious and the secular is permeable and continually (re)constructed in modernity. Yet our histories of the English novel have hardly begun to internalize these changes. Kevin Seidel’s “Beyond the Religious and the Secular in the History of the Novel” makes a compelling call for new accounts of the novel’s rise that avoid repeating the religious/secular dialectic of the secularization thesis. Rather than stories that assume secularization’s inevitability and novelistic realism as its handmaiden, what is needed are accounts of the novel that no longer take secularization for granted but look in its pages for signs of the transformations of religion in modernity: that tell new stories about the ways modern selves narrate belief.

This seminar thus aims to chart new accounts of the rise of the English novel, drawing existing scholarship into dialogue with postsecular studies. The seminar will both operate at a meta-level—debating the theoretical questions at stake, prompting a new hermeneutic for reading religion, and thinking critically about the relationship between religion and the secular—and work out ideas of the postsecular from the ground up, through close reading. During the seminar we will focus on six novels that span the first two centuries of the novel’s rise: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), Richard Graves’s The Spiritual Quixote (1772), Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814), Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1855-7), George MacDonald’s Phantastes (1858), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Our explorations of these texts will be shaped by literary criticism on the rise of the novel (e.g. Ian Watt, Margaret Anne Doody, Michael McKeon, Vivasvan Soni, and Sharon Kim) and a broad array of theorists and theologians who prompt new accounts of the relationship between religion and the secular (e.g. Charles Taylor, Talal Asad, Jacques Derrida, Graham Ward, and Christian Smith).

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“Culture Industries,” MSA 18

Panel Proposals Deadline: April 15, 2016

Dates: November 17-20, 2016

Location: Padadena, CA

CFP Link

The term “culture industries” may have been coined almost a century ago, but it remains as relevant as ever and provides the theme for the 2016 MSA annual conference in Pasadena, California. New modes of cultural production and consumption continue to inform our everyday lives, and they are increasingly shaped by the presence of innovative transport, communication, and media technologies. If distances are shrinking as a result, we need to continue addressing how the concepts of urban/regional, national/transnational, local/global cultures are getting redefined in the process. Southern California is an ideal site for such an exercise: once the capital of a monolithic culture industry reviled by Theodor Adorno, it has remained a lively nexus for an ethnically diverse population that encourages the proliferation of cultures in the plural. An ongoing challenge, then, involves the close examination of how the very concept of culture is increasingly bound up with new ways of thinking about old distinctions between high and low, serious and popular, aesthetics and form, politics and identity, self and other, human and machine.

The conference organizers for “Culture Industries” invite proposals for seminars and pre-conference workshops (due Feb. 26), panels, roundtables, poster sessions, multimedia/digital exhibitions (due April 15). We encourage proposals relevant to the conference theme but welcome panel, seminar, and roundtable proposals on all topics related to modernism. The primary criterion for selection will be the quality of the proposal, not its relevance to the conference theme. We ask that proposals provide complete panels and roundtables. Individuals seeking to create or to participate in a panel or roundtable are encouraged to visit the MSA CFP page or the MSA Facebook page for guidelines to develop and opportunities to promote a panel or roundtable. All proposals must include requests for AV provisions. Continue reading

“Re-Reading the Fin de Siècle: Richard Marsh, Popular Fiction and Literary Culture, 1890-1915”

Abstract Deadline: February 29, 2016

If chosen, draft deadline: May 31, 2016

From VICTORIA Listserv

Re-Reading the Fin de Siècle: Richard Marsh, Popular Fiction and Literary Culture, 1890-1915
Edited by Victoria Margree, Daniel Orrells and Minna Vuohelainen
We are seeking to secure two additional 7000-word chapters for an essay collection that has at this stage been reviewed and welcomed by a highly reputable UK-based university press. We welcome submissions from both early-career and established scholars.
We like to think we know about the Victorian fin de siècle. We live today with an image of Victorian Britain constantly reproduced in film, television, fiction and fashion. Academic studies ask us to look to the fin de siècle as a mirror upon our own society; as a period in which were established many of the dominant facets of the culture we confront in the early twenty-first century. This collection of essays seeks to question the security of our assumptions about the fin de siècle by exploring the life and works of one of the major creators of this world who has nonetheless been written out of its history. Richard Marsh (1857-1915) published the most popular supernatural thriller of 1897, his novel The Beetle outselling Bram Stoker’s Dracula both then and for several decades to come. A major contributor to the literary and journalistic culture of his time, Marsh helped to shape the genres of fiction with which we are familiar today. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a contemporary author of similar stature who possessed his versatility and longevity. For over twenty-five years he entranced late-Victorian and Edwardian readers with many enormously popular tales of horror, humour, romance and crime; stories across which feature shape-shifting monsters, daring (if sometimes morally dubious) heroes, a lip-reading female detective, and an assortment of objects that come to life. These fictions reflect contemporary themes and anxieties while often offering unexpected or even subversive takes on dominant narratives. This book seeks to understand what Marsh’s success tells us about the culture of a turn-of-the-century Britain that seems at once so different from, and so similar to, our own.

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NEH Summer Dickens Seminar

Application Deadline: March 1, 2016

Dates: July 3-29, 2016

Location: UC Santa Cruz

Application Link

Applications are now being accepted for “Charles Dickens: Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities,” a four-week Summer Seminar supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Directed by Prof. Marty Gould, the seminar will be held at UC Santa Cruz, home of the Dickens project. The seminar begins Sunday, 3 July 2016 and ends Friday, 29 July 2016.

The application deadline is 1 March 2016. Don’t miss this opportunity to spend a month in on the beautiful California coast discussing Dickens with colleagues from across the country!

Designed for middle and high school teachers, the “Charles Dickens: Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities” seminar critically explores two of the most frequently taught of Dickens’s novels. Both of these texts are deeply engaged with political and social issues that are as relevant today as they were for Dickens and his contemporaries: education, labor reform, law, social revolution, and terrorism. Via a range of disciplinary fields and methods, the seminar considers how Dickens—and literature more generally—can promote historically inflected cultural literacy while developing the ethical and political perspectives our students need in order to fully engage with contemporary social issues.

Though built around Dickens, the seminar’s critical methods are more broadly applicable, making the seminar useful for teaching literary texts in a wide range of humanities courses, including history, theatre, and civics. In their final projects, participants will develop and share specific strategies for translating the seminar material into real-world classroom activities that prompt students to consider why Victorian literature remains relevant to contemporary culture and how humanistic fields of inquiry are necessary to understanding and responding to today’s most pressing social, political, and ethical challenges. Continue reading

“‘Feeling Real’: Affect, Literature, and Reimagined Realities”

Abstract Deadline: February 29, 2016

Dates: May 5-6, 2016

Location: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CFP Link

The British Modernities Group (BMG) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign invites graduate students to present papers at its eleventh annual interdisciplinary conference, “‘Feeling Real’: Affect, Literature, and Reimagined Realities.”

Our conference will bring together innovative work in affect theory, literary studies, and related fields to consider how feelings contribute to literature and how fictions feel real. As affect explores the cultivation, proliferation, and broader implications of both fictional and real-world feelings, literary scholarship has begun to consider compelling intersections of the mind and the material world that complicate the space between what feels “real” and what is.

 Responding to these scholarly trends, we hope to foster reflection on all permutations of literary feelings and felt realities. What does focusing on affect in literature teach us? How do texts bring characters’ emotions to life? How do these literary emotions evoke affective responses in their readers? How do literary emotions move us and, in affecting us, effect real change on an individual or global scale? What is the relationship between feeling and fiction? How might literature contribute to reimagining realities? How can perception blur distinctions between the real and the fictional, and how does such blurring inform our definitions of what constitutes “reality”? How do modes from the pseudo-documentary to the fictional memoir undermine longstanding generic distinctions that separate the “real” from the “not real”? How can fictions come to supplant lived realities, and what are the consequences of such substitutions? How do unreliable narrators call attention to the subjective nature of reality and its dependence on personal feelings? Our conference will provide an opportunity for keynote speakers, panelists, and attendees to collaboratively explore these and related issues.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words for individual papers (or 350 words for panels) should be submitted to modernities@gmail.com by Monday, February 29, 2016. Please include your name, along with your departmental and institutional affiliations, in your email. Conference papers must not exceed 20 minutes. Visit our website (http://modernities.wordpress.com/) or check us out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BritishModernitiesatUIUC/) and Twitter (@BMGmodernities) for more information about the BMG.