CFP: “Strange New Today”: Victorians, Crisis and Response

Postgraduate Conference
17 September 2011
Devon and Exeter Institution
Centre for Victorian Studies (Exeter) in collaboration with the Reader Organisation

Keynote speakers: Professor Regenia Gagnier (University of Exeter)
Professor Philip Davis (University of Liverpool)
Plenary: “The Reading Cure”, Presented by The Reader Organisation

Proposals Due: 27 May 2011

In Past and Present, Thomas Carlyle conceives of modern crisis as a deadly riddle posed by the Sphinx – with a viable future or social collapse contingent upon the answer: “This English Nation, will it get to know the meaning of its strange new Today?” This conference is intended to elicit papers that respond to the generative effects of the perception of crisis in the Victorian period. Awareness of crisis stimulated intellectual enquiry in new disciplinary directions: in history and historiography, archaeology and classicism, evolutionary biology, economic and social theory, in literary expressions of cultural critique, and in personal and psychological narratives. Such intellectual productivity – and the insistence upon circulating the new analyses of crisis within a public realm of discussion – constitutes a response that we might wish to draw upon in our own times of perceived crisis.

The commemorations of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and the returns to Marx for explanations of the current economic crisis exemplify a revival of interest in how thought from the Victorian period lives on in the contemporary world. This conference is an opportunity to investigate the productive and prolific nature of the Victorians’ response to the idea of cultural and personal crisis – as theorists or as writers whose literary works could help us grasp the meaning of our “strange new Today”.

Please send proposals (of approx. 250 words) for 15 – 20 minute papers to southwestvictorianists@exeter.ac.uk no later than Friday the 27th of May.  Any queries regarding the conference can be directed to the same address.

Strange New Today conference blog

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