Are We Victorian?

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

In 1875, Anthony Trollope published The Way We Live Now, a novel about financial crises, political corruption, debt, and xenophobia. These topics are familiar to us as well: The Way We Live Now is, in many ways, still the way we live now.

Much recent debate in Victorian studies has concerned “presentism”—the idea that we still live with in a Victorian world. Presentism says that there is not much new about “neoliberalism:” as the manifesto of the V21 collective puts it, “In finance, resource mining, globalization, imperialism, liberalism, and many other vectors, we are Victorian, inhabiting, advancing, and resisting the world they made."

This panel will probe the uses and limits of presentism in Victorian studies. Presenters may choose to give “presentist” readings of specific works, and/or to think about method more generally.

In what ways are we still living with nineteenth-century concepts and theories? Can the Victorian era and its literature help us understand our contemporary situation? Does presentism illuminate the past, or does it simply project our own dilemmas back onto history? Where does presentism end and anachronism begin?

Presenters should feel free to interpret the word “Victorian” relatively loosely—in other words, to not restrict themselves to British writers and problems. “Victorian” is as much a concept as a time period, and in this sense, Marx and Freud are as “Victorian” as Dickens and Eliot.

View the full CFP and submit abstracts here: Deadline for abstracts is September 30.

More information on the NEMLA conference here: