2004 Winnipeg

CFP: Victorian Novelties

Panel Organized by Jason Camlot

Selected Panel Members:

  • Christopher Keep (University of Western Ontario), "'These Delightful Records': Indexicality and Identity in The Importance of Being Earnest"
  • Sean C. Grass (Texas Tech University), "Making Progress: Forward Motion, Stultification, and Narrative Innovation in Bleak House"
  • Lynn Alexander (University of Tennessee at Martin), "The New Man: Craik's John Halifax, Gentleman"
  • Miranda Campbell (Concordia University), "'Awfully Commercial, Women Nowadays': Consuming the New Woman in Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan"

In 1829 Thomas Carlyle noted that a key sign of the times was the fact that “our old modes of exertion are all discredited, and thrown aside.” This proposed panel seeks papers that address conceptions and realizations of “the new” that may have emerged during the Victorian period to replace these discredited and discarded old modes of exertion. We are interested in papers that address the idea or reality of novelty in the Victorian period across a broad range of disciplines (literature, science, political economy, etc.) either in the form of advocacy or critique. Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to: scientific innovation; commercial and industrial invention, new generic forms in literature (i.e. “the novel”); the periodical press as a vehicle of novelty (i.e. The “New” Monthly Magazine); new modes of production and manufacture, and, alternatively, critiques of industrialization; new modes of spectacle; new systems of education; new categories of readership; The New Woman…

Selected Panel Members:

  • Tabitha Sparks (McGill University), "The 'Exemplary Individual' vs. the Social Mass: A Pragmatic Study of the Social Problem Novel"
  • Mary Elizabeth Leighton (University of Victoria), "Professing Disinterestedness: Popular Literary Critics and the Late-Victorian Academic Marketplace"
  • Rob Breton (University of British Columbia), "Working-Class Disinterestedness and the Interests of the Nonworking Class"
  • Wai Ying Lee (University of Toronto), "'But you must think of me as a saint': Feminine Disinterestedness in "Female Ministry" and George Eliot's Adam Bede"

CFP: Disinterestedness

Panel Organized by Jason Camlot

In “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” (1865), Matthew Arnold argues that disinterestedness is shown in criticism when it refuses “to lend itself to any of those ulterior, political, practical considerations about ideas… which criticism has really nothing to do with." In George Eliot's Daniel Deronda (1876), Sir Hugo Mallinger's recommendation to his adopted (Jewish) son that "we want a little disinterested culture" to function as "a passport in life," suggests disinterestedness as a cultivated attribute that elides or transcends difference. In both cases the idea of disinterestedness seems to be a significant facet of a larger motive in Victorian thought towards a kind of universalism, and of what Amanda Anderson in Powers of Distance has recently called “the cultivation of detachment.” For this panel we seek papers interested in the significance of the concept of “disinterestedness” (in one or more of its many possible meanings) in Victorian literature, criticism and aesthetic theory. Questions and topics might include:


  • Why does disinterestedness emerge at this time and "stick" as a powerful aesthetic concept that will prove to have a formidable legacy?
  • How are issues relating to disinterestedness absorbed and performed in Victorian narrative fiction?
  • What are the discursive and or philosophical traditions that inform disinterestedness?
  • What contemporary discourses of literature and culture rivaled Arnold's concepts, and why were they less successful (or were they)?
  • Does disinterestedness as an aesthetic concept still have any use?
  • Does this last question have any meaning outside of a particular political context?


  • Disinterestedness and Victorian Poetry.
  • Disinterested Characters.
  • Disinterestedness vs. Partisanship.
  • Disinterestedness vs. Sympathy.
  • Disinterested Criticism and the Periodical Press.
  • The Gender Politics of Disinterestedness.
  • Disinterestedness and Cosmopolitanism, Socialism, Aestheticism, or ideas of Race and Nation.