Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CFP: MLA 2013 Victorian Division panels on Victorian Attention and Victorian Distraction (3/1/2012; 1/3-6/2013)

The Victorian Division seeks abstracts for a panel on Victorian Attention.  Did Victorians attend to their world in particular ways?  Were their concepts of attention themselves distinct from those of other periods?  What does it mean to “pay” attention in the nineteenth century?  Were there Victoria attention disorders: according too much attention to something or someone, or too little; the wish for inordinate attention, or the inability to bear attention.

Topics might include:

  • Attending to children, books, celebrities, clothing, etc.
  • Absorption—in activities, thought, the self.
  • Noticing, considering, focusing.
  • Publicity, celebrity, scandal.
  • Learning, memorization, retaining knowledge.
  • Caring for and comforting others; forms of courtesy.
  • Disorders of attention: Victorian attention spans, attention deficits, attention seeking, shyness, etc.

The Victorian Division also seeks abstracts for a panel on Victorian Distraction.  What are the peculiarly Victorian modes by which attention goes astray?  Why has the nineteenth-century continuum of distraction—from mild absent-mindedness to full-on madness—become so foreshortened?  Who or what drives literary characters to distraction and why?  What is the precise quality of a beneficial distraction?  When does attention become distraction, or vice versa?  What does Victorian psychology have to say about any of these topics?

Topics might include:

  • Diversion: hobbies, leisure activities.
  • Getting lost, wandering, going astray, traveling, fugue states.
  • Madness, temporary or permanent.
  • Absent-mindedness, mild confusion, poor attention.
  • Narrative and/or theoretical implications of distraction.

500 word abstracts and CV to Elaine Freedgood ( by Mar 1 please.