Of Victorian Interest

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Reminder: NVSA 2014 "Victorian Senses" (10/15/2013; 4/11-13/2014)

CFP: NVSA 2014

Victorian Senses
Stony Brook University,
April 11-13, 2014
Proposals Due: October 15, 2013
The Northeast Victorian Studies Association calls for papers that treat the Victorians and the senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.
The committee invites papers from all disciplines on topics ranging from the representation of individual sense experience to the scientific, psychological, and philosophical study of the senses; from the sensory impact of mechanization, industry, and the urban city to the extrasensory world of the Victorian séance and spirit rapping. How were the senses categorized and conceptualized in the period? How did Victorian writers and artists understand and represent the sensations of living in their world? What role did capitalism or politics play in the transformation of the Victorian world of the senses—the rise of consumer culture or the publication of Chadwick’s 1842 Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population, for instance, or Victorian censorship? How did the ascendancy of empiricism shape the ways in which Victorian scientists and writers experienced and described the world? In what ways were the senses regarded as unreliable or inadequate for a full understanding of reality? How did the Aesthetic and Decadent movements define or exploit sensory experience? In what ways were sensory interactions with the world enhanced, complicated, or compromised by new communication and sensory technologies? How were sensory deficits—blindness, deafness—understood? What explains the cultural popularity of sensation fiction and public spectacle in Victorian culture?
Topics to be considered can include, but are not limited to, the following:
Senses and the Body:
  • sensory deficits (blindness, deafness)
  • illusions
  • dreaming
  • mesmerism and hypnotism
  • anaesthesia
  • synaesthesia
  • hallucination
  • sense illusions
  • drugs and alcohol
  • the senses and evolution
  • extrasensory perception
  • insanity and nervous disease

Studying the Senses:
  • psychology of sense perception
  • experimental study of the senses
  • physiology and the senses
  • sexual science
  • sensory deprivation
  • animal senses

Communication, Optical, and Acoustic Technologies:
  • photography and its predecessors
  • the phonograph
  • sound recordings
  • the microscope
  • the telescope
  • extending the senses through technology

Senses and the Victorian World:
  • factories and industrialization
  • urbanization
  • the sensory overload of the metropolis
  • consumerism and the senses

History, Method, and Philosophy:
  • empiricism—sense experience as the origin of knowledge
  • rationalism
  • the unreliability or inadequacy of the senses
  • sense experience and consciousness
  • social and cultural history of the senses
  • sociology and anthropology of the senses
  • the hierarchy of the senses: vision as the highest sense   

Culture and the Arts:
  • Sensation fiction
  • the sensational
  • the representation of sense experience in fiction, poetry, and art
  • literary realism and empiricism
  • spectacle
  • the poetry of sensation, spasmodic poetry, the “fleshly school” of poetry
  • magic
  • Decadence and Aestheticism
  • sentimentality

Proposals (no more than 500 words) by Oct. 15, 2013 (email submissions only, in Word format): Erika Behrisch Elce, Chair, NVSA Program Committee: Erika.Behrisch.Elce@rmc.ca
Please note: all submissions to NVSA are evaluated anonymously. Successful proposals will stay within the 500-word limit and make a compelling case for the talk and its relation to the conference topic. Please do not send complete papers, and do not include your name on the proposal. Please include your name, institutional and email addresses, and proposal title in a cover letter. Papers should take 15 minutes (20 minutes maximum) so as to provide ample time for discussion.
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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