Of Victorian Interest

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Of Victorian Interest

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CFP: “Victorian Marketplaces”: Consumers, Consumables, Circulation, and Consumption (02/05/2019; 04/27/2019)

Victorian Studies Association of Ontario Annual Conference

27 April 2019

Glendon College in Toronto, Ontario

Victorian Marketplaces: Consumers, Consumables, Circulation, and Consumption

In “The Philosophy of Toys,” Charles Baudelaire recalls entering a family friend’s home and seeing newly bought toys stacked to the ceiling of a room, enchanting the domestic space with bejewelled wonder. Generations later, Walter Benjamin, reflecting on Paris’s famed arcades, described the space as a “world in miniature, in which customers will find everything they need.” The Victorian era was overstuffed, both literally and figuratively, by myriad forms of consumption: from the consuming of domestic objects, such as prized Wedgwood place-settings that reaffirmed notions of the crammed bourgeois Victorian parlour, to the new democratization of food culture, with metaphors of ingestion abounding in cultural forms from advertising and literature. With novel “tonics” as panaceas for ailments and the magic afforded certain biscuits and potions in children’s stories, consumption and the circulation of consumed entities proliferated and informed diverse socio-cultural histories in the era. At the same time, scholars have recently begun to trace histories of circulation and consumption with respect to how such material capitalist processes often propelled complex narratives of Empire and colonization through seemingly banal and “cozy” objects, such as a packet of tea or an embroidered cotton handkerchief.

This panel welcomes papers that explore diverse perspectives on Victorian circulation and consumption and the intricate histories behind seemingly quotidian habits, such as window shopping, sewing, hobbyist collecting, and baking. Papers might consider which knowledges and histories were privileged or ignored. Can the representation and circulation of such consumptive processes allow us to define new histories of procurement? How did Victorians represent imagery of consumption, circulation, and marketplaces in diverse forms: from literature to visual culture to stagecraft to advertising and cookbooks, to interior design and architecture, to costumes and fashion design?

Possible themes might also include:

  • fictional representations of consumption, circulation, and spaces of consumption
  • decolonial, global and cultural histories of Empire, and object acquisition
  • popular fiction narratives
  • Victorian print culture, histories of shopping consumption, and merchant-capitalist histories (catalogues; journals; advice manuals)
  • consumption and the law
  • the consumption of Victorian literary and visual culture
  • children’s literature and representations of enchanted or disenchanted objects
  • architectural and design histories
  • Victorian fashion histories and sartorial studies
  • filmic histories focusing on the role of circulation, consumption, and capitalist enterprises
  • labour, colonized bodies, and objects
  • the space of the home as a complex site of labour, obtainment and agency
  • object-based thing theory
  • literary tropes and representations as co-emergent with conspicuous consumption and curatorial practices
  • Victorian medical and scientific discourses surrounding the role, circulation, and consumption of objects
  • intellectual histories surrounding collection and consumption practices
  • current contemporary visual artists and writers who engage with historical questions surrounding circulation and consumption in the Victorian era

Please send an email attachment of your 300-to-400-word paper proposal, and 100-word biographical statement to Lin Young (l.young@queensu.ca) & Emily Rothwell (ejrothwell@gmail.com) by 5 February 2019.

For more information about the VSAO, please visit: http://vsao.apps01.yorku.ca/

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