CFP: NVSA 2009
THE VICTORIAN EVERYDAY
Wellesley College: April 3-5 , 2009
NVSA solicits submissions for its annual conference; the topic this year
is The Victorian Everyday.
The conference will feature a keynote panel including Tim Barringer,
Laurie Langbauer, and Ruth Yeazell and a visit to the remarkable Ruskin
Collection at the Wellesley College Library.
* * *
So closely have the Victorians been associated with the mundane that the
very notion of the Victorian everyday can seem redundant. Rather than
endorsing or resisting the cliché, our goal this year is to reflect on
the period’s own sense of the importance of daily habits or events. We
are therefore seeking papers that address the problematic or otherwise
conceptually-interesting quality of the quotidian in the period. The
norming of everyday activities, scientific developments that highlight
the force of daily processes, sociological projects that reflect the
importance of daily life, the emergence of a new emphasis on the real in
artistic representation—all of these characteristically Victorian
developments contribute to making the everyday a powerful and
long-lasting category. Specific conceptual issues we hope to address at
the conference include the following: Is the everyday best understood
through greater abstraction or closer engagement with the concrete and
specific? Are certain genres or modes of representation the natural
sites for the manifestation of the everyday? What are the genres of the
day-to-day, of the mundane? What drives an increasing interest in the
everyday as a category? What are the relations among the routine, the
normal, the everyday, the ritual, the mundane and the secular? What
habits of our own scholarly practice are reflected in how we define the
commonplace in the Victorian period?
Noticing the Everyday
“The everydayness of this nineteenth century”
--Saturday Review, 1892
How did the everyday emerge as an intellectual category? How might it
relate to the obscure, the recondite, the specialized?
Where does the everyday take place: the home, the street, or elsewhere?
What is the relation, if any, between the unremarkable and the
Is it possible for the everyday to be extraordinary, for it to be
unfamiliar? How does crisis become an everyday experience?
How stable a category is the everyday, how does it related to the
standardization of time? Are some days or times more characterized by
routine? What are the measures by which we record repetition?
Science and the everyday: the cultural effect of attention to gradual
How did the nineteenth century historicize the everyday—when have days
How did the period register the emergence of Victorian theorists of the
everyday in sociology, anthropology, ethics, and elsewhere?
Modern theorists of the everyday: their debts to the Victorians, their
contribution to the study of the nineteenth century.
Forms of the Everyday
“Illustrative of everyday life and every-day people”
--Dickens, Sketches by Boz (subtitle), 1836
The ubiquity of images.
Seeing the everyday: narrative painting, domestic genre, illustrated
Writing every day: diaries, journalism, correspondence.
Literary history and the challenge of everyday literature.
What is the power of conventionality in representation, of repetition or
Realism: the genre of the everyday?
What are the relations among the novel, journalism and the sociological
tract as projects for capturing the everyday? What is the role of
photography or periodical illustration?
“the level of everyday's most quiet need”
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese, 1850
What are the feelings that characterize the everyday?
How unique is the individual's experience of the everyday?
Habit as a felt phenomenon: boredom, melancholia, monomania, comfort,
Kinds of habit: unconscious routines or imposed discipline, prayer and
other daily rituals, regimen and askesis, habit as revealed by analysis,
The experience of daily reading/the reading of daily experience.
The other day: Victorian Sabbaths.
Whose everyday?: class, gender, and work distinctions.
The Everyday as a Commodity
“Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy”
--Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market, 1862
Importing and exporting the everyday.
Scrap books to advertising posters: the importance of ephemera.
Selling the everyday.
The imperial everyday.
The lives of others.
* * *
Proposals (no more than 500 words) by Oct. 15, 2008 (e-mail submissions
Professor Deb Gettelman, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair, NVSA Program Committee, English Department, College of the Holy
Cross, 1 College Street, Worcester, MA 01610
Please note: all submissions to NVSA are evaluated anonymously. Also,
while any topic might reasonably be placed in relation to the everyday,
the program committee is particularly eager to see papers that make a
claim about the category itself. Successful proposals will stay within
the 500-word limit and 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. Please indicate from where you will be traveling, and
mention if you have other sources of funding.
To join NVSA, or to renew your membership for 2008-2009, please return
the tear-off below to Prof. Joan Dagle at the address indicated on the form.
Jonah Siegel, President, NVSA phone: (732) 932-7679
Department of English fax: (732) 932-1150
Rutgers University email: email@example.com
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
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