“The Long, Wide Nineteenth Century”
Recent critiques of the idea of the “Victorian” have included attention to both space and time, challenging both the temporal imperatives that follow, perhaps fetishistically, the contours of Victoria’s reign, and the geographical isolation of a culture (or set of cultures) in which people went to war or opted for diplomacy; traded (or refused to trade) objects and ideas; translated and plagiarized the works of other cultures; embarked on journeys to discover rivers, love, self, or God; produced and abandoned formal and informal empires.
Eschewing (at least in its title) the baggage of terms such as “global,” “transnational,” and “cosmopolitan,” “The Long, Wide Nineteenth Century” will address some of the temporal and spatial complexities of the period that is typically bounded by the French Revolution and the First World War. Taking England as its point of departure or, perhaps even, its point of eventual arrival, this conference will look how that country’s relation with other cultures helped shape and change its identity. The committee welcomes papers on any scale, from those that focus on a single moment across cultures to those that take up the long durée of the period in question. The organizers are also interested in how shifting from long to wide views of the nineteenth century may make visible other smaller models of periodization, such as decades or even years that are often subsumed under the temporality or ideological sweep of the terms “Victorian,” “Romantic” or “fin-de-siecle.” They are also interested in how time and space interact, and in how particular places “abroad” assume urgency at particular moments in British history. Of course, the committee is also eager to hear papers on terminology itself, and to think critically through the language that has so far shaped our efforts to transport the Victorian to other times and places
Participants in The Long Wide Nineteenth Century are also cordially invited to spend the week following the conference in the redwoods of central California at the annual gathering of the Dickens Universe, an international research group devoted to the study of the novels of Charles Dickens and Victorian literature and culture. The Dickens Universe’s study of Martin Chuzzlewit and American Notes begins on August 2 and concludes on the evening of Friday, August 7. Confirmed speakers for the week include Jill Lepore, Meredith McGill, Nathalie Vanfasse, Iain Crawford, Elsie Michie, James Buzard, and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. Conference participants who wish to stay on for the Universe will have the opportunity to meet in working groups, whose themes will be organized from the submitted paper and panel proposals, or participate in the Dickens Universe’s Nineteenth-Century Seminar. Scholars may thus use the week as an opportunity for extended discussion and scholarly exchange. For more information about the Dickens Universe, as well as the Nineteenth-Century Seminar and Working Groups, please feel free to consult the Dickens Project website or contact one of the conference organizers. For the purposes of planning Working Groups and the Nineteenth-Century Seminar, please indicate in your proposal if you are interested in staying on for the Dickens Universe.
The organizers invite proposals for individual papers and panels, and welcome, in particular, proposals for presentations that utilize non-conventional and experimental forms, such as roundtables, Pecha Kucha slideshows, workshops, and any other models that encourage collaboration and interaction. Proposals for individual presentations should be no more than 500 words; panel proposals should include 500-word abstracts for each individual contribution and a 250-word panel description. Please identify five keywords that your paper or panel will address.
Proposals and a one-page c.v. should be submitted to Helena Michie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ryan Fong (email@example.com) by December 1, 2014.