Of Victorian Interest

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CFP: VSAO/ACCUTE “Victorians Faking It: Fraud in Form and Fiction” (11/1/2015; 5/28-31/2016)

VSAOVictorians Faking It: Fraud in Form and Fiction

University of Calgary, 28-31 May 2016

Is "faking it" an essential Victorian characteristic? Despite the popular perception of the nineteenth century as a period dominated by the Protestant work ethic and preoccupied with moral conscientiousness and "realism," Victorian culture bursts with deception and trickery - both in form and content. From misleading plots and authorial pseudonyms to the illusory reality of emerging technologies like photography, identifying the (in)authentic and enacting (in)authenticity is an ongoing concern of nineteenth-century characters, spectators, and readers. For consumers of texts, a certain enjoyment may arise from discovering and tacitly participating in violations of generic and social norms. Alternately, reveling in ruses or quietly "passing" as another class, gender,race, or religion may be crucial for success or even survival, whether as a character or author, or within society at large. Deception may be the hidden impulse that sets Victorian propriety in motion, from the practice of "Bunburying," to the scandal of the Tichborne claimant, to cases of quackery, to the fascination with discovering the figures behind George Eliot or Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell, or the tangled identities in sensation novels like Lady Audley's Secret. This panel invites papers that explore questions of fraud and trickery in Victorian form and fiction.

Papers might address:

  • Economic fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting
  • Identity theft
  • The bigamy plot
  • Doubling and replications with a difference
  • Shared identities
  • Pseudonyms, authorship scandals, and impersonation of authors
  • Collaboration and attributions of credit
  • Anonymous reviewers and unsigned pieces
  • "Passing" and impostor syndrome
  • Secretive genres such as the silver fork novels, the roman Ă  clef, sensation fiction
  • Generic mimicry
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Optical illusions
  • Photographic trickery and artistic forgeries and fakes

Questions and submissions should be sent to VSAOatACCUTE@gmail.com. Please submit the following as separate documents by 1 November 2015:

  • 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 2016 Proposal Information Sheet, available at: http://accute.ca/general-sessions/

Please note that speakers must be members of VSAO and ACCUTE at the time of the conference. The second oldest Victorian studies association in the world, the Victorian Studies Association of Ontario welcomes new members from universities, libraries, museums - all those who share an interest in Victorian culture. For more information about VSAO, please visit http://vsao.apps01.yorku.ca/

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