Of Victorian Interest

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Edited Collection: Neo-Victorian Biofiction (2/28/2015; 9/1/2015; 2016)

9789042032309-1Special Volume
Rodopi’s Neo-Victorian Series
Neo-Victorian Biofiction: Re-Imagining Nineteenth-Century Historical Subjects
Proposals: February 28, 2015
Final Chapters: September 1, 2015
Publication: 2016

The editors invite contributions on Neo-Victorian Biofiction for a themed volume in Rodopi’s Neo-Victorian Series to be published in 2016. This edited collection will examine the manifold narrative ethics and strategies employed by writers, dramatists, poets, filmmakers, graphic novelists and other artists to re-imagine the lives of nineteenth-century historical subjects.  From celebrities, including iconic public figures and notorious criminals, to obscure individuals virtually erased from historical records, as in the case of slaves, servants, industrial and sex workers, the personal triumphs and traumas of real-life people of the period continue to exert an evident fascination for the present. On one hand, neo-Victorian biofiction’s prosopopoeic ‘resurrectionism’ seeks to write/right the wrongs of history, to shed new light on the dark sides of the Victorian archive and, ultimately, to perform an ethics of truth and testimony. On the other hand, it involves ethical risks of appropriation for present-day agendas, symbolic (re-)victimisation, factual distortion, and even defamation. How do ‘biofictioneers’ negotiate these risks so as to do justice and bear after-witness to the actual lives lived? To what extent do artists self-consciously foreground, question and reconsider the historiographic metafictional slippage between fact and fiction in their works? And is it legitimate to ‘invent’ compensatory or alternative histories? Indeed, can texts heavily reliant on fabulation still be regarded as biofiction per se? As well as proposals on the usual suspects, such as Queen Victorian and the great Victorian writers of Dickens, Wilde & Co., we are particularly interested in chapter proposals on biofictions of the following: artists and models; Australian Aborigines; children; doctors; indigenous actors in India’s ‘First War of Independence’; maids and menservants; mistresses and prostitutes; poets and poets’ muses; travelers and explorers.

Possible topics may include, but need not be limited to the following:

  • biofiction’s shaping role in contemporary views of ‘the Victorian’
  • the relationship between biofiction and postmodernism
  • the politics of prosopopoeia (voice/voicing, single vs. multiple points of view, third-person  biofiction vs. first-person ‘autobiofiction’, etc.)
  • techniques producing empathy and/or distancing effects
  • the ideological (feminist, postcolonial, queer, etc.) agendas of biofiction
  • the un/ethics of biofictional practice
  • biofiction in the context of adaptation studies
  • the gender politics of biofiction
  • spectrality and/or biofictional ‘grave robbing’
  • the ontological slippages between fact and fiction, history and story
  • the uses of comedy in biofictional texts
  • differences in biofiction across neo-Victorian genres and media
  • biofiction as after-witness to nineteenth-century traumas

Please send 300-500 word proposals (for 8,000-10,000 word chapters) to the series editors, Marie-Luise Kohlke at m.l.kohlke@swansea.ac.uk and Christian Gutleben at Christian.GUTLEBEN@unice.fr, by February 28, 2015. Please add a short biographical note in the body of your email. Completed chapters will be due by September 1, 2015.

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