“Victorian Outliers,” NVSA 2016

Deadline: October 15, 2015

Dates: April 8-10, 2016

Location: Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)

CFP Link

We welcome papers on any individual or type of Victorian Outlier, as well as theorizations of the outlier as a category in aesthetic, geological, historical, imperial, literary, mathematical, musical, natural historical, philosophical, psychological, and other domains.

How did Victorians represent outlying people, ideas, and evidence? Malcolm Gladwell popularized the figure of the “outlier” to rationalize unusual achievements—entrepreneurial, financial, intellectual, and athletic—at the far ends of statistical possibility. How did the Victorians, who published countless biographical and autobiographical narratives of and prescriptions for such achievement, define and mobilize the figure of the outlier? Many Victorians espoused the work of Francis Bacon, who had privileged the outlying particular—the ostensible exception—as that by which natural philosophers ought to induce the general law. How did Victorian taxonomists—of plants, of poetic meters, of languages, of crystals—decide which phenomena merited naming as categories and which, thereby, become outliers, the exceptions? How did Victorian epistemologies integrate the outlier? What did Victorians think of the outlying regions they inhabited, explored, represented, imagined, and colonized?

Outliers can refer to outsiders or to insiders who seem, from limited perspectives, to be outsiders. They might be colonial subjects, explorers, mavericks, eccentrics, extreme cases, variants, exemplars, or caricatures: instances that stretch the boundaries of a species, family, domain, set, or norm. They might describe degrees of feeling or experience, modes of space or time.

Papers might also consider the genres by which Victorians represented outliers and/or genres that now appear to be outliers. What are the features, functions, and ends of generic outliers, texts whose conventions or occasions put them outside traditional disciplinary parameters? What do we make of best-selling texts that are now marginal to our teaching or scholarship? How, in turn, have we centralized texts that were marginal to most Victorians? How can we revitalize cultural studies by attending to outlying texts? Likewise, what texts, authors, and concepts inhabit the edges of the Victorian period and undermine its coherence, such as it is? What can we learn from Romantic Victorians and Victorian Modernists? What are the outlying methods in Victorian studies and how might they enrich our work? Is Victorian Studies an outlier among disciplines and ought it be? What are the ethics, the costs and benefits, the ideologies and feelings associated with being an outlier?

Proposals (no more than 500 words) by Oct. 15, 2015 (email submissions only, in Word format), should be sent to: Jonathan Farina, Chair, NVSA Program Committee: jvfarina@gmail.com

The Coral Lansbury Travel Grant ($100.00) and George Ford Travel Grant ($100.00), given in memory of key founding members of NVSA, are awarded annually to the graduate student, adjunct instructor, or independent scholar who must travel the greatest distance to give a paper at our conference. Apply by indicating in your cover letter that you wish to be considered. Please indicate from where you will be traveling, and mention if you have other sources of funding.


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