Engendering the Victorian Female Poet

full name / name of organization: 
Sophie Lavin
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There has been a historic tide of scholarship arguing the merits of Victorian poetry written by women. From Aurora Leigh to "Goblin Market," nineteenth-century female poets created a canon of verse that questioned gender categories and troubled the status quo. While scholars from Oliphant to W.M. Rossetti added valuable interpretations that legitimized the genre, contemporary critics such as Armstrong, Tucker, and Prins have used modern lenses to probe the subtleties inherent in the work of a "poetess." This roundtable will discuss the ways gender is mapped onto and inherent in nineteenth-century female poetics. We will probe how the female poet changed/expanded/problematized form, and how poets addressed the sexual, moral and class conventions of their time. What were the cultural responses to these poems, and what were some significant male responses? What was the effect of working-class poems authored by women? How did the concept of boundaries smite or enforce a female poet's project? We will also discuss the transatlantic implications of publishing and editing, as well as how poets represented the adversity of gender in their verse—what Barrett Browning called a "dishevelled strength in agony."

This roundtable examines the ways gender is mapped onto and inherent in verse of Victorian female poets. Participants should examine through theoretical lenses canonic or non-canonic poems (metapoems, verse-novels, lyric, epic, sonnet, elegy) throughout the long nineteenth-century. 500 word abstract/CV by 9/30 to blavin@optonline.net with subject line "NeMLA VFP"