CFP: NVSA 2008 -- VICTORIAN UNDERWORLDS
University of Toronto: April 11-13 , 2008
"A sail / That brings our friends up from the underworld”
--Tennyson, “Tears, Idle Tears,” 1847.
NVSA solicits submissions for its annual conference; the topic this year is Victorian Underworlds.
They opened popular museums of geology. They dug vast sewer systems and subways and excavated archeological sites around the world. They imagined new regions deep within the earth and developed new methods for peering into the lower strata of their social hierarchies and the depths of the physical body, places where desire and disease were thought to develop. The human mind, the deepest oceans, and hell itself were just some of the nether regions reimagined throughout the Victorian period.
This year’s conference seeks not to catalogue the many underworlds of the Victorians, but to understand why the very idea of the underworld was such a powerful concept during the Victorian era. Why were the Victorians so eager to peer beneath the surface of what was known or acknowledged? Why did they keep finding there not merely depths, but articulated worlds? Are there basic similarities among these many underworlds, or do they differ from one another in important ways? The conference is also interested in mining our own scholarly practices: what underworlds do we look for?
SOCIAL UNDERWORLDS/ POLITICAL UNDERWORLDS
-Beneath the public sphere: the worlds of the poor; the criminal; the insurgent
-Below stairs: the world of servants quarters
-Hierarchies of alterity (the sub in subordination)
-Victorian bases/Victorian superstructures
-Transgression and its discontents: the virtues or vices of (studying)
the abject and subaltern
-Demi-mondes and sub-cultures
-Communities of losers and wastrels
-Secret societies or groups
-Beggars and beggar-kings
-Underwords: secret languages; thieves' cant; soldiers' slang; Cockney
-The underneath in art: pentimento; undercoats; bohemia
-Under where? Under what?
-Burial of the body
-The sewer system as world
-Urban design for the underclasses
-Geological underworlds: strata; fossils; volcanic eruptions; caves
-"Dreadful hollows": mines; tunnels; secret passages; dungeons
-Deep waters: undersea excavation and building; charting; exploration; below decks; fishing; submariners
SURFACE AND DEPTH/INVISIBLE WORLDS
-The mind as world/the brain as world
-Mediums and séances
-Lingerie and dress reform
-The body as underworld: circulation; germs/microbes; sexuality
-The Fiery Pit: Orphic & Eurydicean; Persephonic & Demetrian; Victorian Satans
-Creatures of the underworld: Mermen; sirens; Kraken; dwarves; gnomes; Morlocks;vampires; and others
-Delirious depths: from wine-cellars to Venusberg
[The conference will feature a presentation on magic lanterns, as well as visits to the special collections of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto and a distinguished keynote panel.]
* * *
Proposals (no more than two double-spaced pages) by Oct. 15, 2007
(e-mail submissions strongly encouraged):
Professor Amanda Claybaugh, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair, NVSA Program Committee
12 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Please note all submissions to NVSA are evaluated anonymously.
Successful submissions will make a compelling case for the talk and its relation to the conference topic.
Please do not send complete papers, and do not include your name on your proposal.
Please do include your name, institutional and email addresses, and
proposal title in a cover letter. Papers should take 15 minutes (20 minutes maximum) so as to provide ample time for discussion.
The Coral Lansbury Travel Grant ($100.00) and George Ford Travel Grant ($100.00), given in memory of key founding members of NVSA, are awarded annually to the graduate student, adjunct instructor, or independent scholar who must travel the greatest distance to give a paper at our conference. Apply by indicating in your cover letter that you wish to be considered (and mention if you have other sources of funding).
To join NVSA, or to renew your membership for the 2007-2008 membership year, please print up and return to Prof. Joan Dagle the form at the bottom of this document.
Jonah Siegel, President, NVSA
Department of English
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
phone: (732) 932-7679
fax: (732) 932-1150
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