CFP: [International] Literary London 2008 7th Annual Conference; Brunel University, London (05/28/08; 07/02 â 04/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Prof. Philip Tew
contact email:

The 7th Annual Literary London conference will be hosted by the Department
of English, School of Arts, Brunel University, London, at the Uxbridge
Campus, West London, 2nd – 4th July 2008.
‘Uxbridge has cornered the market in liminal architecture’
– Iain Sinclair, London Orbital (2002)
Liminal London: Country/City, Work/Leisure, Past/Future, and States


‘When you get to Beckenham, which is the last parish in Kent, the country
begins to assume a cockney-like appearance; all is artificial, and you no
longer feel any interest in it’
– William Cobbett, Rural Rides (1830)
‘… what London attracts with the mirage of its work shining across the
counties and the countries, London holds with the glamour of its leisure’
– Ford Madox Ford, The Soul of London (1905)
‘The motorway towns were built on the frontier between a tired past and a
future without illusions and snobberies’
– J.G. Ballard, Kingdom Come (2006)
The majority of Greater London consists of areas like Uxbridge; places
which once had an independent existence but have been relentlessly
consumed by the outward sprawl of the city. As we can see from Cobbett’s
observations, even in the first half of the nineteenth century there was
no longer a simple boundary between City and Country but something of a
twilight zone in which nothing was real. While Cobbett bemoaned the
collapse of traditional rural paternalism into the enforced pauperism of
wage labour, the zone enabled new forms of living. For Ford, it was
precisely the persistence of an almost parodic version of the ‘Country’ in
the outer zones which allowed the masses to partake in the cultured
leisure pursuits of the gentry as London and Country seasons merged into
one daily commute. Thus was the trace of true individualism preserved
within modern mass society and, thereby, the possibility of a fulfilling
utopian future was kept tantalisingly open. But the transition was never
completed: Ford talked of romantic suburbanites doomed to ‘an always
tragic death’ and while, less than forty years later, George Orwell
thought that he had found ‘the germs of future England’ along the arterial
roads ‘in Slough, Barnet, Dagenham, Letchworth, Hayes’, this England has
not so much appeared as become part of the landscape of the past. Sinclair
talks of West Drayton in this manner as an historical frontier in
which ‘Bicycle shops are a nostalgic recollection of the days when H.G.
Well’s clerks took to the country roads.’ In Ballard’s Kingdom Come, the
implicit utopian nostalgia of the Cross of St George has become the
nostalgia for an English fascism that never was and the outer London zone
simmers with the threat of millennial meltdown as all the part-digested
historical essences ever consumed by the sprawl threaten to spew forth.
There may never be a better time to identify the constituent elements of
London’s outer zones. This conference welcomes any such attempts as it
seeks to map the very liminality of London.
Please note that the headline theme of the event does not exclude other
proposals concerning any other aspect relevant to Literary London themes
and contexts, which are most welcome, as are complete panels (subject to
final approval by the conference organizers). Additionally, while the main
focus of the conference will be on literary and cultural representations
of London, the organizers actively encourage interdisciplinary
contributions relating to film, architecture, geography, theories of urban
space, etc.. Papers from postgraduate students are welcome for
Originally founded in the 1960s expansion of Higher Education in Britain,
Brunel’s Uxbridge campus lies four miles and twenty minutes taxi ride from
Heathrow Airport, and is a reasonable journey by underground to central
London (King’s Cross and Piccadilly approx. 50 minutes; Waterloo approx.
55 minutes; Kew Gardens and Tower of London approx. just over an hour –
estimated timings Transport for London). Participants staying longer can
avail themselves of various research libraries including the British
Library, London’s theatre land and all of the city’s historical and
architectural sights, plus its culture. Both Oxford and Cambridge can be
visited easily in a day from Uxbridge.
London is one of the world's major cities with a long and rich literary
tradition reflecting both its diversity and its significance as a cultural
and commercial centre. Literary London 2008 aims to:
o Read literary and cultural texts in their historical and social context
and in relation to theoretical approaches to the study of the metropolis;
o Explore the relationship of margins, the central and spaces between;
o Investigate the changing cultural and historical geography of London;
o Situate Londoners, the city’s visitors and their various
psychogeographic spaces;
o Consider the social, political, and spiritual fears, hopes, and
perceptions that have inspired representations of London;
o Trace different traditions of representing London and examine how the
pluralism of London society is reflected in London literature and its
cultural narratives; and,
o Celebrate the contribution London and Londoners have made to English and
World literature
This should be an occasion for productive dialogue between scholars of
literary and material culture. Papers on any of literary, theoretical,
narrative and material aspects of London and its representation are
anticipated. Proposals for comprised panels of three (or four) speakers
are also welcome.
Proposals of approximately 300 word are invited for 20-minute papers which
consider any period or genre of English literature about, set in, inspired
by, or alluding to central and suburban London and its environs, from the
city's roots in Roman times to the present day. Add a brief description
(where relevant indicating institutional affiliation and publications in
particular) of the proposer, by email only, to both:
Nick Hubble:

Philip Tew:

Please note that your subject line must include the phrase ‘LITERARY
LONDON BRUNEL 2008’ since your message will be initially retrieved and
sorted automatically. If you do not do so it may well be lost in this

Final deadline for submissions: Monday 28th April 2008.

Notification of early acceptance can be provided for those requiring
institutional funding, particularly in the case of international scholars.
The conference fee will be posted in due course once the costing has been
finalized. There will be discounted rates for postgraduate students, the
retired, and additional general discounts for those paying in advance (to
be announced).

Literary London Web site:
The Annual Literary London conference is mutually supportive of the
e-journal of the same name.

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Received on Wed Sep 12 2007 - 13:22:27 EDT

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