2009 Ottawa

ACCUTE (Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English) occurs from May 23 to May 26, 2009 at Carleton U, Ottawa, Canada

CFP: Victorian Health (deadline: 11/15/08; NAVSA/ACCUTE, 5/23/09-5/26/09)

Panels organized by Keith Wilson (U of Ottawa)

Selected Panel Members for I: Victorian Women and Health

  • Kimberly Hereford (U of Washington), "The Fashionable Disease: Illness, Spiritualism and Victorian Femininity"
  • Goldie Morgentaler (U of Lethbridge), "'A Healthy Exertion': Social Dancing in Victorian Fiction"
  • Kristine Moruzi (U of Melbourne), "The Healthy Girl: Fitness and Beauty in the Girl's Own Paper"
  • Ryan Stephenson, U of Ottawa), "'The Whole Structure is Rotten': National Health, the Servant Problem, and George Gissing's 'The Foolish Virgin"

Selected Panel Members for II: The Threat to Victorian Good Health: Real, Imagined, and Metaphorical

  • Anne Clendenning (Nipissing U), "'A choking sensation always follows the stink': coal gas and consumer health in Victorian London"
  • Lene Ostermark-Johansen (U of Copenhagen), "'A Healthy Exertion': Social Dancing in Victorian Fiction"
  • Sylvia A. Pamboukian (Robert Morris University), "Women and Unprofessional Medicine"
  • Christa Zeller Thomas, U of Ottawa), "'I was ill just then': Ada Cambridge's discourse of invalidism in Thirty Years in Australia"

When the narrator of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889) spends an unwise afternoon in the British Museum Reading Room with a medical encyclopaedia, he emerges, after a “conscientious plod” through the alphabet, with the conviction that “the only malady . . . I had not got was housemaid’s knee.”  For reasons other than mere constitutional hypochondria, the Victorian preoccupation with health – physical/mental, intellectual/spiritual, social/political – bordered on the obsessive.  It grew in conjunction with a developing sense as the nineteenth century advanced that the achievement of good health, in the individual as in the nation, was a duty, owing rather more to discipline, moral nature, and an assured sense of purpose than to good fortune.  The Juvenalian motto mens sana in corpore sano, assimilated through an educational system bent on applying its prescription to all aspects of private and public life, became a tag by which a culture defined a core aspiration, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was an ideal more honoured in the articulation than in the achievement.

This call is for papers that address all aspects of the Victorian preoccupation with health (and by inevitable association disease) in both literal and metaphorical manifestations. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • medicine and the medical professional in literature
  • the health of the city
  • health in childhood and age
  • national health and imperial mission
  • animals and health
  • sport and the education of the body
  • political health
  • women and health
  • health and the workplace
  • the lure of eugenics
  • health and the countryside/nature

Please send proposals or completed papers for 15-20-minute talks to Keith Wilson at   Deadline: 15 November 2008.