Of Victorian Interest

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Of Victorian Interest

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CFP: BAVS 2018 “Victorian Patterns,” 4/3/2018; 8/29-31/2018

BAVS Annual Conference 2018

Victorian Patterns

University of Exeter, Streatham Campus

29-31 August 2018

Organised by the Centre for Victorian Studies, University of Exeter

Keynote Speakers

Professor Jason W. Moore (Sociology, Binghamton University)

Professor Grace Lees Maffei (Design History, University of Hertfordshire)

Professor Marion Thain (Liberal Studies, NYU)

Global Victorians Roundtable Speakers

Professor Robert Aguirre (Wayne State University)

Professor Nicholas Birns (NYU)

Dr. Paul Young (University of Exeter)


Pattern in the nineteenth century was a much-debated topic. The execution of repetitive forms of design became both industrialized and institutionalized thanks to new techniques of mechanized production. Everywhere the surfaces of material culture were alive with a profusion of ornamental patterns. An insatiable appetite for pattern affected the appearance of public spaces, domestic interiors, clothing and the objects of everyday life. At the same time, revolutions in science and technologies, in the global circulation of people, commodities and ideas, and in the conception and creation of new forms explored and exploited the ways in which patterns, both cultural and natural, shape and organize experience and subjectivity. Pattern was (and is) often seen as repetitive, constraining, unimaginative, and deadening, but patterns also live, energizing, structuring, and acting both within and beyond the reach of human intentionality and subjectivity. This conference will explore the life of pattern in the nineteenth century and the way in which in its contradictions, its reproducibility and its close connections with materiality and the everyday, pattern can be seen as a representative natural, aesthetic, cultural and techno-scientific mode.


We invite proposals for individual papers of 15 minutes or 3-paper panel sessions, and we would particularly welcome alternative session formats designed to foster discussion or pose research problems for discussion (e.g. poster presentations, 3x5 minute position papers, roundtables or working groups, etc.) on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Patterns in nature: temporal (geologic, seasonal), energy, physics, evolution.
  • Scientific and technological patterns: mathematics, markets, engineering, textiles, city-planning.
  • Patterns of imagery: language, style, and genre.
  • Design and decorative patterns: arts, crafts, ornament, textiles, The House Beautiful, book design.
  • Music and metrical patterns, poetics, performance.
  • Global Patterns: travel and circulation; settlement and empire; inheritance.
  • Repetitions, replications, rhythm, habits, habitus, disruption of pattern, linearity, circularity, randomness, emergence, chaos.
  • Patterns of behaviour and mood.

Please submit an individual proposal of 250-300 words or a group proposal of 1000 words to BAVS2018@exeter.ac.uk by the deadline of Tuesday, 3rd of April. All proposals should include your name, e-mail address and academic affiliation (if applicable).