This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore new perspectives on the political, literary and public culture of Britain during the Regency, a term derived from George Prince of Wales’s period as regent between 1811-1820 which is also used to describe his subsequent reign as King between 1821 and 1830. These two decades witnessed momentous upheaval and transformation in British society: the climax of the long war with Napoleonic France; the rise of post-war radicalism; second-generation Romanticism; the development of print culture and the formation of the modern mass reading public; economic dislocation and the financial panic of 1826; the coming of the railway; and the consolidation of London as the first modern metropolis. The Regency can also be described justifiably as inaugurating the modern culture of celebrity, a term which gains widespread currency for the first time in this period. Celebrities such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Lord Byron and George ‘Beau’ Brummell instantiate specifically modern forms of fame and publicity, and conjure the spectacular and sensational affective dynamics that mark this culture of celebrity and its new modes of reading and spectatorship. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and its strategic settlements of national and dynastic space, such transnational celebrity exiles reconfigured social as well as geographical space through these new modes of sociality, spectatorship and audience participation. The Regency also sees the emergence of scandal as a powerful new social, political and cultural currency, as part of a transformation of traditional relations between public and private. The genre of the scandalous memoir, such as Harriette Wilson’s Memoirs (1825), produced the ‘private life’ as a commodity, and was a major publishing phenomenon across middle-class and radical readerships.
A reconsideration of the Regency from the perspective of recent developments in Romantic, historical, and cultural studies is overdue. A conference on this theme would be an opportunity to bring together scholars in a range of disciplines in the field of British studies, continuing the conversation first generated by the Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age, ed. Iain McCalman (1999). 2009 will represent ten years since the publication of that volume.
We would welcome proposals for papers on the following possible themes:
cause célêbres / celebrity; dandyism; fashion; the flash; the King’s (Two) Bodies; London; gambling; public assembly; public opinion; publicity; reform and radicalism; Regency Australia; Regency Ireland; scandal; sensation; sexuality; silverfork; Six Acts; space; spectacle; sociability; subcultures; succession crises; theatres and theatricality; visual culture; Waterloo and post-Waterloo. Other possible topics might include: the Regency in Romanticism; Victorian Regencies (e.g. Thackeray, Dickens, Gaskell), 21st century Regencies (Austen).
Closing date for submission of abstracts: 31 May 2009
Please send abstracts to:
Gillian Russell: Gillian.Russell@anu.edu.au
Clara Tuite: firstname.lastname@example.org
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