Of Victorian Interest

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CFP: 2015 VSAO/ACCUTE “Victorian Inheritance” (11/1/2014; 5/28-31/2015)

images-12015 VSAO/ACCUTE
Panel: “Victorian Inheritance”
University of Ottawa
May 28-31, 2015
Deadline: November 1, 2014

In Book Five of Middlemarch, titled “The Dead Hand,” Mr. Casaubon’s will acts as a “promise” by which he might “keep his cold grasp on Dorothea's life.” The power of the dead and of the past to exert control on the present is a central concern of Victorian literature and culture. Besides providing a form of narrative closure, inheritance may figure as a burden or a privilege, a “great expectation” or a surprise. The treatment of inheritance might comment on personal and familial identities, national and racial anxieties, or cultural and artistic influences. Inheritance, or the prospect of inheriting, preoccupies figures as diverse as Thackeray, whose dandies live on the prospects of their relatives’ deaths; Darwin, who establishes biological links to the past, but also considers the possibility of mutation or change through time; and Lytton Strachey, whose Eminent Victorians rebels against the previous generation and, in doing so, crystallizes a certain definition of “Victorian” characteristics. Despite Strachey’s disavowal of a Victorian inheritance, nineteenth-century aesthetics and interests have experienced a resurgence in our contemporary moment, while at the same time economist Thomas Picketty’s influential Capital in the Twenty-First Century has exposed the returning power of accumulated wealth and inheritance. This panel invites papers that explore questions of inheritance in or of Victorian literature and culture.

Papers might address:

  • Heirlooms, wills, entailments, and estates
  • Patrimonial capitalism versus self-help
  • Gender, class, and inheritance
  • Dead hands
  • Haunting and the gothic
  • Expectations and disappointments of inheritance
  • Genealogy, heredity, and racial inheritance
  • Legal systems of inheritance
  • Literary inheritances (personal, generic, stylistic)
  • Artistic reclamation of medieval and classical heritages
  • Cultural, national, and historical inheritances
  • The rejection of inheritance or of the past
  • Neo-Victorianism and the reclamation of a cultural inheritance

Questions and submissions should be sent to VSAOatACCUTE@gmail.com. Please
submit the following as separate documents by November 1, 2014:

  • a proposal of 300-500 words that has NO identifying marks for the author
  • an abstract of 100 words and a bio of 50 words
  • a proposal sheet, available at: http://accute.ca/general-sessions/

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