Call for Papers
Nineteenth Century Studies Association 23nd Annual Conference
New Orleans, March 6-8, 2003
“Feasts and Famine”
What theme could be more appropriate for a conference in New Orleans, the city inextricably linked with Mardi Gras and fine food? Dickens is but one of many 19th century writers who created both heartrending stories of poverty and hunger and convivial scenes of eating, drinking, and making merry. Much of the century’s real feasting took place under huge still lives of luscious fruits or dead game. Dances, music, and theatrical entertainments were as relevant to feasts as dress, manners, and fętes for travelers abroad. The technological revolution in the 19th century changed the production, availability, preparation, and consumption of food, as well as affecting where and when one could eat. The railroad promoted cheap day excursions to the beach and into the countryside, while the steamship and the spreading power of the British Empire made tea from China, India, and Ceylon a staple of British society, creating a market for other commodities like tea gowns, tea sets, and cucumber sandwiches. Barons of industry on either side of the Atlantic adopted a life of opulence that dramatized the link between class and conspicuous consumption.
Disraeli’s famous reference to Queen Victoria’s sovereignty over “Two Nations” characterized a world truth. The new wealth generated by industrialization depended upon cheap labor, workers whose bodies and souls were “eaten” by greedy capitalists and voracious machinery. Philosophers, economists, moralists, and popular writers debated the merits and effects of public versus private agencies for social relief and philanthropy. The tropes of excess and scarcity are found in such contrasting topics as the century’s music criticism and the enduring fascination with vampirism from James Malcolm Rymer’s early Varney the Vampire, or the Feast of Blood, to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Real starvation marked “The Hungry Forties,” most famously with the Irish famine, while anorexia nervosa was first labeled in 1873 as a recognizable phenomenon by French and British doctors. The hunger for education created a market for self-help manuals, inspired the establishment of Mechanics’ Institutes, and fueled the Women’s Movement. “Feasts and Famine” invites conference papers from all disciplines.
One-page proposals, single-spaced, for 20-minute papers should be accompanied by a 1-2 page c.v. Proposals for a 90-minute panel should include:
la cover letter from the panel organizer, indicating format and title of proposed session
1-2 page c.v. from each participant.
Email or mail proposals simultaneously to the Conference Program Co-Chairs listed below. Proposals and required accompanying materials must be postmarked by October 15, 2002. Decisions will be announced by December 2002.
The conference site will be The Pontchartrain Hotel (www.pontchartrainhotel.com). Local Arrangements Director is Dr. Nancy Fix Anderson Dept. of History, Loyola University New Orleans, Campus Box 65, 6363 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118-6195.
Dr. Marilyn Kurata
Dept. of English
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL 35294-1260
Dr. Elizabeth Winston
Dept. of English
The University of Tampa
Tampa, FL 33606-1490
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