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CFP: Pernicious Trash? Victorian Popular Literature, 1830-1880 (4/30/2016; 9/12/2016)


Pernicious Trash? Victorian Popular Literature, 1830-1880

12 September 2016
Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, Leeds Trinity University

There is now before us such a veritable mountain of pernicious trash, mostly in paper covers, and “Price One Penny”; so-called novelettes, tales, stories of adventure, mystery and crime; pictures of school life hideously unlike reality; exploits of robbers, cut-throats, prostitutes, and rogues, that, but for its actual presence, it would seem incredible. [1]

When people think of Victorian literature, authors such as Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy, and Oscar Wilde spring to mind. Yet alongside these authors there existed a multitude of more ‘popular’ authors such as G. W. M. Reynolds, Pierce Egan the Younger, Henry Downes Miles, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and Ellen Wood. Furthermore, numerous anonymous writers week after week churned out popular pieces of mass-market fiction for readers’ enjoyment. In view of this, the interdisciplinary ‘Pernicious Trash’ conference seeks proposals for 20 minute papers which examine the ‘cheaper’ side of literature during the long nineteenth century (‘virtuous trash’ such as religious/moralist magazines and papers on The Penny Magazine are also welcome). Such topics might include:

  • The penny press: (e.g. The Penny Magazine, penny dreadfuls)
  • Chartist periodicals
  • The Newgate Novel
  • Serialised sensation fiction and illustration
  • Plagiarisms of famous works (e.g. G. W. M. Reynolds’ Pickwick Abroad)
  • Broadsides, chapbooks
  • Women’s periodicals (e.g. The Lady’s Magazine)
  • Literary periodicals (e.g. Strand)
  • Satirical periodicals (e.g. Punch)
  • If you are interested in submitting a paper, please submit an abstract of 250 words with a brief biography to pernicioustrash@gmail.com by 30 April 2016. The organisers also welcome panel proposals. If you wish to propose a panel, please send abstracts for three linked papers, and brief biographies of panelists.

    The keynote speaker is Dr. Katherine Mullin from the University of Leeds. Dependent on funding, we hope to offer the event free, otherwise a charge to delegates of £10-£15 will be added to cover expenses. For more information see their website: http://pernicioustrash.tumblr.com.

    [1] Anon cited in Charles Ferrall & Anna Jackson, Juvenile Literature and British Society: The Age of Adolescence, 1850-1950 (London: Routledge, 2010), p. 12.

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