Of Victorian Interest

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Of Victorian Interest

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CFP: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Legacies of Aurora Leigh (7/1/2016; 10/15/2016)


Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Legacies of Aurora Leigh: Literature, Politics, Society
A one-day conference at the University of Westminster, London
15 October 2016

Confirmed Keynotes:
Professor Marjorie Stone (Dalhousie University)
Professor Margaret Reynolds (Queen Mary, University of London)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh was one of the most radical and controversial poems of the Victorian period, and the work into which Barrett Browning believed her ‘highest convictions upon Life and Art have entered’ (‘Dedication’).

160 years on from the poem’s initial publication in November 1856, this one day conference at the University of Westminster’s historic Regent Street campus seeks to consider the legacies of Aurora Leigh for writers, artists and thinkers in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. What did Aurora Leigh mean for writers and intellectuals in the mid-Victorian period, the fin-de-siècle, and the modernist period? How did EBB’s formal experimentation and often challenging stance on issues of her ‘live, throbbing age’ (AL 5:203) influence subsequent poets, novelists and non-fictional prose writers? And in what ways did writers and artists critique, challenge or re-envision what EBB considered ‘the most mature’ of her works?

Proposals for 20 minute papers are invited on any issue related to the legacies of Aurora Leigh, c. 1860-1945. Topics might include:

  • the impact of Aurora Leigh on the work of succeeding poets, including the Pre-Raphaelites, New Woman poets, the decadents, modernist poets, and other poets of the first half of the twentieth century
  • the legacies of the poem’s thinking about the role and place of the woman writer
  • the impact on social and political thinkers and activists (for example, with regard to socialism, the Woman Question, etc.)
  • the work of later writers on EBB and Aurora Leigh (for example, Amy Levy, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf)
  • trans-European and transatlantic legacies of Aurora Leigh
  • the legacies of the poem’s innovations in form and style (for example, in relation to the long poem, the ‘novel-poem’, the idea of the ‘modern’ poem)
  • the legacies of the poem’s treatment of issues such as the Condition of England, the fallen woman, class, education, the urban space, marriage, sexuality, Italy and France
  • critical histories and reception
  • Aurora Leigh in popular culture
  • Please email proposals of up to 250 words and a brief biographical note to s.avery@westminster.ac.uk. Proposals should be received no later than 1 July 2016. For more information, please visit the conference website: https://auroraleigh2016.wordpress.com/.

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