Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CFP: Mediamorphosis: Print Culture and Transatlantic Public Sphere(s), 1880-1940 (4/15/2011; 9/9-10/2011)

"Mediamorphosis:  Print Culture and Transatlantic Public Sphere(s), 1880-1940"

Sept 9-10, 2011
University of Delaware

This two-day symposium will provide a forum for literary scholars, historians, media historians, and art historians to share works-in-progress on the transformations of print media and Transatlantic public spheres at the turn of the twentieth century.  The symposium will feature work that probes artificial literary-historical boundaries, challenges national divisions, traverses the divide between nineteenth- and early-twentieth century print culture, and links texts and or/writers across different genres or sectors of the print media of the period.  There will be ample time for open discussion; there will be no concurrent panels; participants will be expected to attend all sessions.  The symposium is conceived as a follow up to the 2007 symposium, "Transatlantic Print Culture, 1880-1940:  Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms," which resulted in an edited collection under the same title (Palgrave 2008).

A wide array of work is welcome, but papers should engage substantially with several of the following areas of common interest:
advancing our understanding of print culture's role in the period's movements for racial, class, and gender equality.

  • identifying and theorizing the relationship between print culture, empire, and cross-cultural (transatlantic, transnational) writing, reading, and publishing.
  • bringing the theories and methods of material culture studies to bear on the analysis of print artifacts as "objects" or "things."
  • grasping the increasing textual hybridity of the period's print artifacts, by examining such phenomena as the interactions between illustration and text and the complex collage effects created by advances and experiments in typography and image reproduction.
  • developing our knowledge of Anglo-American links, interactions, and networks among writers, publishers, editors, agents, and other participants in the period's print culture.
  • analyzing and theorizing the relationship between transformations in print culture and evolving notions of authorship and the literary, including the role of the nascent academic field of English, in Britain, the United States, and/or the colonies/commonwealth.
Send 500-word abstracts for 20-minute papers by April 15 to:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Conference on William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair and Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (4/11/2011; 4/16/2011)

Do Victorian novels by (agnostic?) writers with unreliable narrators have moral authority?
A Day Conference on William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair and Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Presentation and Discussions by
Judith Fisher (Trinity University)
Marianne Thormählen (Lund University)
Micael Clarke (Loyola University Chicago)
Peter Shillingsburg (Loyola University Chicago)
and a panel discussion

Saturday, 16 April 2011
Loyola University Chicago
Crown Center Room 530
9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Coffee, Lunch, Receptions provided

NO Registration FEE
Sponsored by Martin J. Svaglic Chair in Textual Studies, Loyola
University Chicago

RSVP by Monday, 11 April 2011 to

9:30 am Registration and Reception

10 am “Reading in and Out of Vanity Fair; or, How to Acquire an Uncomfortable Talent” Judith Fisher, Professor of English, Trinity University, San Antonio

11 am “What is the Moral Center of Vanity Fair?” Peter Shillingsburg, Professor of English, Loyola University Chicago

12  Lunch

1 pm   “The Writing on the (Dungeon) Wall:  Reading Wuthering Heights by the Light of Brontë's Poems” Micael Clarke, Assoc. Professor of English, Loyola University Chicago

2 pm   “The Moral of Wuthering Heights” Marianne Thormählen, Professor of English Studies, Lund University, Sweden

3 pm Coffee Break

3:20 pm  Roundtable discussion: "Narrative, Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Novelist’s Responsibility" Mark Bosco, Joyce Wexler, Steve Jones, Michael O’Connell, Julia Bninski, Jason Kolkey, and Kari Kronsbein

5 to 7:30 pm  Reception

Monday, March 28, 2011

CFP: M/MLA Permanent Session "English II: English Literature 1880-1900" (4/30/2011; 11/3 - 6/2011)

This year’s Midwest Modern Language Association Conference will be held November 3-6, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Stacey Kikendall is soliciting papers for one of the permanent sessions, English II: English Literature 1800-1900, and is hoping to form several different panels.  This year's conference is looking for papers that investigate the conference theme "Play" in problematic or evocative ways.  You might consider play in terms of performance, identity or representation, seriousness vs. dallying, wagering, strategy, being a player in a game, movement or action, or diversions/recreation. You might also consider idioms such as "fair play" or "foul play."

Please send 300-word abstracts and a brief CV to Stacey Kikendall at by April 30, 2011.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

INCS 2011 Conference "Speaking Nature" (3/31 - 4/3/2011)

The Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) 2011 conference "Speaking Nature" will take place next week at Pitzer College, in Claremont, California. Registration is now open.  Please check the the conference website for the program and further details:

Keynotes and featured presentations include:

  • Reading by Anca Vlasopolos, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Wayne State University, From the "Isles of the Blessed" (Thursday, March 31)
  • Talk by Laura Skandera Trombley, President of Pitzer College (Friday, April 1), "Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them": Mark Twain's America"
  • Talk by Robert Polhemus, Professor Emeritus of English, Stanford University (Friday, April 1), "God Defying in Paint and Poetry: the 'Speaking Nature' of Orozco's Prometheus
  • and Shelley's Prometheus Unbound"
  • Talk by James Kincaid, Aerol Arnold Professor of English, University of Southern California (Friday April 1), "The Laborious Construction of the Natural Child"
  • Talk by Harriet Ritvo, Arthur J. Conner Professor of History, Massachusetts, Institute of Technology (Saturday, April 2)
  • Roundtable: Sustaining the Profession (Saturday, April 2), James Kincaid, Teresa Mangum, Helena Michie, Susan Morgan, Deborah Denenholz Morse, Robert Polhemus, and Harriet Ritvo

Friday, March 25, 2011

Final Reminder: CFP: "Unexpected Agents" Postgraduate Symposium (4/1/2011; 6/24/2011)

Unexpected Agents: considering agency and subjectivity beyond the boundaries of the human (1800 to the present day)
Hosted by the English Department at the University of Birmingham
24 June 2011

Whilst questions of human subjectivity and/or identity remain a persistent focus in literary and cultural studies, this one-day postgraduate symposium aims to consider how we might explore and account for agency from unexpected sources. Papers, plenaries and discussions at this symposium will place the non-human, the object, the supposedly "lifeless" at the centre, with a view to casting new light on and rethinking definitions of human agency and identity from an unconventional, askance perspective.

Bruno Latour and the Actor Network Theory (ANT) to which his work is seminal have interrogated the ways in which our reified notion of "the social" has obfuscated the role and potential agency of apparently inanimate objects. When we consider "the social," Latour argues, emphasis overwhelmingly falls upon the agency of intentional human actors. That objects too might be considered as actors or agents has not been granted due attention, since from "the very definition of actors and agencies most often chosen, if action is limited a priori to what 'intentional,' 'meaningful' humans do, it is hard to see how a hammer, a basket, a door closer […] could act." In other words, because the ways in which an object might be considered to ‘act’ appears so incommensurate with the apparently purposeful, intentional and highly thought-out actions of human beings, the idea that objects might be considered as agents in their own right has suffered much neglect in sociological discourse.  ANT is largely concerned with attacking this imbalance.

This symposium aims to acknowledge and yet exceed Latour’s and others’ focus upon the agency of objects to envision how authors, theorists and cultural producers have imagined and re-imagined the potential agencies of a wide range of entities, to which and to whom access to power is conventionally seen as foreclosed. It will explore how this over-looked but fascinating trope persists across genres and historical boundaries, from Romanticism to Science Fiction, and from 1800 to the present day.

Plenary Speaker: Dr. Sarah Kember of Goldsmiths, University of London

The organisers invite 200-word proposals from postgraduate research students for 20-minute papers which engage with the symposium theme discursively and imaginatively.  Papers might focus on the following kinds of "unexpected agent":

 *   Objects (art objects, artefacts, antiques)
 *   Spaces/ Landscapes
 *   Ghosts and the deceased
 *   Mediums and the hypnotised
 *   Babies/ Infants
 *   Animals
 *   Technology (radio, machines, scientific apparatus)
 *   Nature
 *   Words themselves

The deadline for proposals is Friday 1 April 2011.

Please send your proposals to

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CFP: The Latchkey: Journal of New Woman Studies

The editorial team of The Latchkey: Journal of New Woman Studies is interested in receiving new submissions of scholarly articles and book reviews for our upcoming issues. All scholarly articles will undergo double blind peer review; book reviews will be published at the discretion of the editors.  We accept submissions year-round and have a reasonable turn around time (usually no more than three months, often much less).  Submission Guidelines and further information about the journal, as well as our current issue, can be found at

The Latchkey is a peer-reviewed, open-access online journal devoted to the concept of the New Woman, covering the lives and writings of New Women authors and figures, the representation of the New Woman in literature, culture, art, and society, proto-feminism and early feminist journalism, and current innovative scholarship on the New Woman. While the term "New Woman" originated in England, the cultural phenomenon extended beyond Britain. We wish to explore its presence (or reasons for its absence) and influence in other countries and across disciplines, and aim at covering both canonical and non-canonical New Woman figures and aspects. Starting with the next issue (anticipated for late spring 2011), The Latchkey is merging with another Oscholars journal, The Michaelian, currently edited by Sharon Bickle. The Latchkey will keep its name and focus on the New Woman, while appreciating and benefiting additionally from The Michaelian’s interests and expertise in the poetry and culture surrounding Michael Field (Edith Cooper and Katharine Bradley).

We are associated with the group of journals known as THE OSCHOLARS 

(, and published by The Rivendale Press, UK. Please send all enquiries to the editors at

Thank you sincerely for your interest.
The Co-editors,

Petra Dierkes-Thrun, Stanford University, USA

Sharon Bickle, University of Queensland, Australia

Monday, March 21, 2011

"The Politics of Form" 2011 Nineteenth-Century Graduate Conference (4/22/2011)

The Politics of Form: 2011 Graduate Student Conference
Columbia University Nineteenth-Century Colloquium
Friday, April 22th, 2011, 9:00 am – 6:45 pm 
Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

Keynote Speaker: Caroline Levine, “Politics as Form,” 5:15 pm

In recent years, Victorian studies have seen a resurgence of interest in literary form and formalist criticism.  However, these renewed formal interests do not represent a simple swing of the critical pendulum.  Rather than retreating from historicism, current critical models seek to amend and complicate New Historicist practices by combining them with examinations of genre, aesthetics, and other formal concerns.  Recent work along these lines has been characterized by an attentiveness to form in the service of historically specific claims and an interest in the historical specificity of nineteenth-century literary forms and their cultural meaning.  Correspondingly, the conscious significance of literary form and genre to the Victorians themselves is a topic ripe for further examination. This conference seeks to explore what is particularly at stake for Victorian literary studies in this turn towards form, and to consider the future of aesthetic and political intersections in our critical practice.

This event is free and open to the public. 

For more details, contact Anna Clark

CFP: W. T. Stead: Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary (5/20/2011; 4/16-17/2012)

W. T. Stead: Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary
British Library, London, 16 & 17 April 2012

When William Stead died on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in April 1912, he was the most famous Englishman on board. He was one of the inventors of the modern tabloid. His advocacy of ‘government by journalism’ helped launch military campaigns. His exposé of child prostitution raised the age of consent to sixteen, yet his investigative journalism got him thrown in jail. A mass of contradictions and a crucial figure in the history of the British press, Stead was a towering presence in the cultural life of late Victorian and Edwardian society.

This conference marks the centenary of his death. We aim to recover Stead’s extraordinary influence on modern English culture and to mark a major moment in the history of journalism. In 2012 the British Library will open its state of the art newspaper reading rooms. In Stead’s spirit we will also investigate our own revolution in newspapers and print journalism in the age of digital news.

With Stead as a focal point, we will use aspects of his career to develop multiple avenues into the history of his time and ours. This is not a narrowly focused specialist conference, but one that aims to adopt wide cultural perspectives.

We welcome proposals on the following, in respect of Stead and/or related topics:

  • Stead’s "New Journalism." The Pall Mall Gazette, Review of Reviews and other journals were crucial in the emergence of the modern day broadsheet and tabloid press. Stead provides the opportunity to re-assess some of the key phases in the influence and structures of the press in modern Britain.
  • Stead and technology. Stead was one of the best recorders of the second industrial revolution of the late Victorian period, when telegraphs, gramophones, microphones, telephones, Kodak cameras, wireless telegraphy, horseless carriages, typewriters and new printing technologies transformed everyday life.
  • Stead and the New Imperialism. Stead’s support for English colonies was part of his advocacy for a white commonwealth that would be united through journalism and new communication technologies. We welcome papers on specific elements of Stead’s imperialism, from the support for General Gordon, his opposition to the South African War, to his friendship with Cecil Rhodes.
  • Stead and the Titanic. Rumours about Stead’s manly self-sacrifice and Christian acceptance of death in the last hours of the boat were still being repeated as late as the film A Night to Remember (1958). How was Stead’s death reported? What was his cultural significance in 1912? We also particularly welcome papers on any aspect of the Titanic, especially on the role of newspapers in securing the mythic place the sinking has in our culture.
  • Stead and the occult. Stead tended to report Spiritualism favourably, as part of the non conformist world of religion. He became active in the movement in the 1880s and tried to foster support for the Society for Psychical Research. He ran the journal Borderland from 1893-7, which reported on ghosts, psychical experiments, hypnotic rapports, astral doubles and messages from the dead.
  • Stead and religion. We aim to trace his early non-conformity, conversion to secular Evangelicism, and his advocacy of a National Church through investigative annuals, such as If Christ Came to Chicago. We also hope to examine his alliance to William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, whom he helped compose In Darkest England and the Way Out in 1890.
  • Stead and the Northeast. Stead’s career, which includes the editorship of the daily Northern Echo in Darlington for eight years in the 1870s offers an opportunity to investigate the trajectories of regional journalists, Stead’s career at the Echo, and the provincial press in the late nineteenth century.
  • Stead and women’s rights. Stead employed women journalists and writers and championed their role in public life. Typically conflicted, this support derived in part from a Christian sense of women’s benign influence on public purity (so that he was disturbed by the overtly sexual New Woman literature of the 1890s). Stead is an exemplary figure to explore the anxieties and contradictions of the gender and sexual liberations of the late nineteenth century.
  • Stead’s "invention" of the tabloid moral campaign. Through his famous campaigns (‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’, the relief of General Gordon, British rearmament) Stead interceded into contemporary political and social debates and pioneered this major journalistic genre.
  • Stead and politics. Stead’s political radicalism put him at the centre of events in the 1880s, including the ‘Bloody Sunday’ riots of 1887 and the Match Girl Strike in 1889. He was also a notable campaigner for world peace, speaking at international gatherings in the United States and Russia.
  • Stead and the industry of print. As journalist, editor, publisher, proprietor, with a career that includes regional as well as metropolitan dailies, various monthly magazines, annuals, and a stream of serialised works in part issue, including his ‘Penny Poets’, Stead is a rich node for new research.
  • The continuing newspaper revolution. 2012 is the date when the British Library Newspaper Library moves from Colindale to new, state of the art reading rooms. What will the new digital archive mean for historical research? And what will be the future of print journalisms?
Submitting Proposals:
We put out a call for expressions of interest in 2010. In the light of the positive response, we would now like to ask for proposals for 20 minute papers. Proposals should be no more than 500 words and sent to by the 20 May 2011. Further details are here:

Conference Organizers:

  • Professor Laurel Brake (Birkbeck College): expert in nineteenth-century journalism, with extensive publications relating to Stead’s career and milieu.
  • Ed King (British Library): Head of Newspaper Collections.
  • Professor Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck College): expert in late nineteenth-century culture, who has written on Stead’s interests in technology and the occult.
  • Dr James Mussell (University of Birmingham): author of work on nineteenth-century press and science, and an editor of the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CFP: Critical Survey "Sporting Victorians" Issue (5/16/2011)

Sporting Victorians

In the light of the forthcoming 2012 London Olympics, the journal Critical Survey seeks proposals for 4,000-6,000 word articles discussing some of the cultural, national, social and political issues that sport encompassed in Britain in the years 1800-1914. The nineteenth century saw the rise of professionalism in sport and the emergence of women as participants. The topic of sport also engaged a wide range of novelists, poets, dramatists, painters and journalists - both as commentators and participants - from Byron's swimming to J.M. Barrie's cricket team. It is hoped that the topic's multi-disciplinary appeal will be apparent in some of the submissions.

Subjects might include but are not limited to the following:

  • sport and literature
  • sporting writers
  • sport and gender
  • sport and nation
  • sport and the theatre
  • empire
  • the professionalization of sport
  • sport and the countryside (including hunting)
  • sport and the city
  • sporting heroes
  • sport and entertainment (including gambling)
  • sport and crime
  • sport and the body (including `Muscular Christianity')
  • Hellenism
  • sport and ethnicity
  • sport and health

Please email proposals (of approximately 500 words) by 16 May 2011 to:
Andrew Maunder
Editor, Critical Survey

Final essays will be due in by 31 December 2011 and the journal issue will be published in spring 2012.

Queries about this special issue of the Journal are welcome.

Extended Deadline: Call for Volume Papers "Robert Louis Stevenson, Essayist" (3/31/2011)

Renewed call for volume papers: "Robert Louis Stevenson, Essayist"

Richard Dury and R-L Abrahamson will be guest-editing a special number of the Journal of Stevenson Studies dedicated to "Robert Louis Stevenson, Essayist."

In order to obtain a good coverage of the topic, the cfp has been renewed. We invite brief proposals (with summary CVs of relevant background studies) by 31st March 2011. Manuscripts are to be delivered by 1 October 2011 for publication in mid-2012. For the renewed cfp we are particularly interested in proposals on:

  • RLS in the English essay tradition
  • Stevenson's essays from the 1870s
  • The Scribner's essays as a group
  • Travel and topographical essays
  • RLS's essays and ethics
  • RLS's essays and science
  • RLS's essays on literature (except 'Popular Authors' and 'A Gossip on
  • Romance', already covered)
  • RLS's essays and the visual arts

contact: Richard Dury (, R-L Abrahamson

Journal of Stevenson Studies:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reminder: PAMLA Special Session "Materialisms in Victorian Literature and Culture" (3/17/2011; 11/10-11/2011)

Special Session

Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA)
Scripps College, Claremont, CA 91711
November 10-11, 2011

Panel entitled "Materialisms in Victorian Literature and Culture"

This special session is devoted to assessing the presence and significance of material objects in Victorian literature and culture. Why are these objects placed in narratives? What significance do they carry for characters, reading audiences, authors. How do they help to tell a story?

Papers on literary theory on this approach to Victorian literature, or papers that apply this type of criticism to texts are all welcome!

Please send abstracts to Jean Arnold ( byMarch 17.

PAMLA 2011 Conference:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Asa Briggs: A Celebration (3/1/2011; 5/19/2011)

Asa Briggs: A celebration

Institute of Historical Research
School of Advanced Study
University of London

Thursday 19th May 2011 

Lord Briggs, one of the country’s most distinguished living historians, turns ninety this year. His remarkable contribution to academic history – to the development of Victorian studies, the history of communication and his role in the growth of modern universities – are considered and assessed in this one-day colloquium co-hosted by the IHR and the British Association for Victo­rian Studies. 

Confirmed participants:

Asa Briggs
David Cannadine (Princeton)
Francesca Carnevali (University of Birmingham)
Malcolm Chase (University of Leeds)
Matthew Cragoe (University of Sussex)
Martin Hewitt (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Frank Buongiorno (Menzies Centre for Australian Studies/King’s College London)
Sian Nicholas (Aberystwyth)
Jean Seaton (University of Westminster)
Robert Seatter (BBC)
James Thompson (Bristol)
David Vincent (Open University)

Registrations open on 1st March 2011. More details at: 

Events Office
Institute of Historical Research
Senate House, Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HU
T: +44 (0)207 862 8756

CFP: NeMLA Women's and Gender Studies Session (4/22/2011; 3/15-18/2012)

Northeast Modern Language Association
2012 Annual Convention 
Rochester, NY

March 15-18


NeMLA is a member-driven convention. We welcome and encourage session proposals (panel, roundtable, creative session, seminar) in all Women’s & Gender Studies topics, including:

  • Susan B. Anthony Studies
  • Eco-feminism
  • Feminist Literary Theory 
  • Gender in Literature
  • Gender in Film/Photography
  • Girl Studies/Boy Studies
  • Globalized Gender
  • Men’s Studies
  • Motherhood
  • Multi-ethnic Literatures
  • Queer Studies
  • Sexuality
  • Transnational Literatures
  • Women’s Studies & Authors
  • Slavery
  • Suffragettes 

Please help NeMLA extend the conversation in these areas. To propose and chair aWomen’s & Gender Studies’ session, submit a panel proposal online at by April 22 at: proposals can also be cross-listed with the British area.

The full Call for Papers will be available online in June. The abstract deadline for most sessions will be September 30, 2011.  The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Rochester, sponsored by St. John Fisher College.

Building upon the excellence of past NeMLA conferences, NeMLA continues to grow as a vibrant community of scholars, thanks to the wide array of intellectual and cultural opportunities at every venue. Compact yet diverse, Rochester also boasts important historical connections; it is the site of the home, publication operations, and orations of Frederick Douglass, where he edited the North Star, as well as his eponymous periodical, and delivered the speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Visitors can explore the houses of abolitionist, suffragette, and reformer Susan B. Anthony and the inventor of devices popularizing photography, George Eastman, as well as shopping and eateries; attendees will also be within reach of the beautiful Finger Lakes region, known for its local wineries.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

CFP: Fabricating the Playful Body (4/30/2011; 11/3-6/2011)

The Midwest Modern Language Association
2011 Conference "Play . . . No, Seriously"
St. Louis, MO  November 3-6, 2011

Topic: Fabricating the Playful Body
The Fabricating the Body permanent section of the M/MLA is soliciting proposals for conference papers that analyze the playful body in literature and culture. In what ways does play fabricate the body (or not)? How does play theory and acts of play inform our understanding the body? We seek papers that analyze any genre or time period of literature.

The Chair invites entries from the Victorian period; however, this session is not specific to any time period

Please email a 500 word abstract by April, 30 2011 and CV to: Chair, Tracy J. R. Collins, Central Michigan University, 


CFP: KJV Conference (4/8/2011; 9/30-10/1/2011)

In the spring and fall semesters of 2011, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, will host a series of events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (1611) of the Bible. As part of that commemoration the university will host an interdisciplinary academic conference September 30-October 1, 2011. The conference will include plenary addresses, break-out paper sessions, roundtables, and a banquet. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. David Bebbington of the University of Stirling, Scotland.

Individual paper submissions from university faculty, independent scholars, and graduate students are welcome and may cover a wide range of topics related to the KJV. For individual submissions: Send name, one-page paper abstract, and short vitae.

Panel submissions (3 papers) are encouraged but not required.  For panel submissions send names of presenters, one page panel abstract, one page abstracts for each paper, and short vitas for each participant.  If you have someone in mind to comment and/or chair the panel, please send his/her name and affiliation with the submission.

Note: This is an academic conference with no interest in papers arguing for a "KJV only" agenda.

Victorianists will want to explore the influence and use of the King James Bible in Victorian literature and culture, but other possible topic suggestions include but are not limited to

  • The creation of the King James Bible
  • The history of the printing and dissemination of the King James Bible
  • King James Bible and Protestantism
  • Immediate and later reception of the King James Bible
  • Political use of the King James Bible
  • Cultural influence of the King James Bible
  • King James Bible as Literature
  • Influence of the King James Bible on Literature
  • The influence of the King James Bible on other translations of the Bible
  • King James Bible and Textual Criticism
  • The King James Bible and the formation of American Culture

Send materials and inquiries to Dr. Brenda Ayres, by April 8, 2011.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

CFP: MLA Proposed Special Session "The Cultural Place of Nineteenth-Century Poetry" (3/18/2011; 1/5-8/2012)

The Cultural Place of Nineteenth-Century Poetry
proposed special session for MLA 2011, Seattle

In a caustic 1869 Temple Bar review essay, the critic and poet Alfred Austin snubbed Tennyson by claiming that his most ambitious poetry would never endure except "in an academical sense only."  The barb raises an intriguing set of questions about the cultural place of poetry.  Nineteenth-century poets had huge readerships by today's standards, and Tennyson himself enjoyed a rock star-like celebrity.  Nowadays, by contrast, poets are quickly consigned to niche markets and associated with elite or academic settings.  And this holds true retrospectively, as well: even the most enduringly popular poets from the nineteenth century (Whitman, for instance, or Dickinson) owe a good deal to the academy for their ongoing cultural influence.  How, then, should our scholarship on historical poetics endeavor to theorize or otherwise to represent its salience in earlier cultures?  And how much should poetry's presently rarefied position matter to scholars of historical literature? 

Please send abstracts and short CVs by Friday, March 18, 2011 to Charles LaPorte:

Exhibition: The World of Letitia Elizabeth Landon: A Literary Celebrity of the 1830s (3/23/2011 - 5/27/2011)

The Grolier Club presents:
A Literary Celebrity of the 1830s
Curated by F. J. Sypher

The exhibition "The World of Letitia Elizabeth Landon: A Literary Celebrity of  the 1830s" opens at the Grolier Club, in its second floor members gallery, 47 East 60th Street, New York, on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 and runs through Friday, May 27, with manuscripts, first editions, prints, photos, and other materials to illuminate the life and art of a leading British writer of the late Georgian and early Victorian period.

In her day, Letitia Landon was an international celebrity, whose works circulated throughout the British Isles, on the Continent, and in the United States. Writings by her were translated into French, German, and Dutch, and distributed from Paris to St. Petersburg. Her work was known by Poe, Whittier, Hawthorne, and many other prominent American authors. Renewed recognition of Landon's impressive achievement is long overdue.

Landon was born in London in 1802, and began publishing poetry at the age of 17 in an influential London periodical, The Literary Gazette. In 1824 her romantic narrative poem The Improvisatrice became a major best-seller. She also wrote reviews, articles, and stories for London journals, and contributed to popular literary annuals such as Forget Me Not, and The Keepsake. In 1831 Landon published her three-decker novel Romance and Realityfollowed by successful historical novels, Francesca Carrara (1834), and Ethel Churchill (1837).

In June 1838 Landon married George Maclean, a colonial official, and sailed with him to Cape Coast, West Africa (in present-day Ghana), where she died suddenly at the age of 36. The official verdict was that she had taken an accidental overdose of medicine, but rumor attributed her death to suicide or murder. Other reports asserted that she had died from a heart attack brought on by the condition for which she was taking medication.

Landon's work remained in print into the 1890s, and in the 20th century she was remembered in a number of biographical studies. Her voluminous publications are now again in print, and she has attracted attention for her success as a young single woman carving out an independent career in the tough arena of literary London in the 1830s.

Landon's writing today exerts a powerful fascination in the vividness and musicality of her distinctive voice. Her typical themes are "Sorrow, Beauty, Love and Death." As suggested in the title of her best-known novel, she writes movingly of "romance," and incisively of "reality."

Location and time: The World of Letitia Elizabeth Landon will be on view at the Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, from March 24 through May 27, 2011. The exhibit will be open to the public free of charge, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information and directions are available under the "Exhibitions" tab of the club's website,

Catalogue: An illustrated catalogue of The World of Letitia Elizabeth Landon by F. J. Sypher (price $25) will be available at the Grolier Club.