CFP: [20th] Catherine Cookson Revisited

full name / name of organization: 
Julie Taddeo
contact email: 

CFP: “A Return to Catherine Cookson Country”

Hailed as the “Dickens of the North,” Catherine Cookson returned time and
time again to the area around the River Tyne in her 100-plus novels. In a
writing career that spanned the aftermath of World War II, the rise of the
welfare state, second-wave feminism and sexual revolution, and Thatcher’s
booming Heritage Industry, Cookson used the setting of England’s
industrial northeast to explore class and gender conflict, and the effects
of poverty, illegitimacy, and violence on its men and women. Almost ten
years after her death, fans on Cookson websites still claim that her
stories of women overcoming hardships saved their lives, and the museum and
trails that make up “Cookson Country”, luring thousands of tourists a year,
attest to her legacy as a champion of women and the working class in
England. Yet despite two adoring biographies and an occasional subchapter
in literary anthologies, Cookson remains sadly neglected by academics.
Romance scholars typically ignore Cookson, who herself resisted the label
of romance novelist in favor of social historian, while historians are too
eager to discredit the accuracy of her largely Victorian settings and
plots. It is time to revisit Cookson Country and assess Cookson’s legacy
as a publishing phenomenon.
This call for papers for an academic volume on Cookson welcomes essays from
any disciplinary or theoretical perspective. Possible topics include but
are not limited to:

• Cookson as a distinctly “British” novelist
• Representations of femininity, masculinity, and sexuality, especially
homosexuality and lesbianism, in Cookson’s novels and life
• Cookson Country and the Heritage Industry (includes the museum, trails,
on-line websites by and for fans, and TV movie versions of her novels)
• Re-evaluations of her texts: Feminist? Conservative? Subversive?
• Historical fiction or romanceâ€"do such labels really matter?
• Re-imagining Victorianism
• Class and gender politics in the historical/romance novel

Detailed abstract and a short CV are due by November 1, 2007. Please send
in electronic format as Word attachment to Thank you.

Dr. Julie Taddeo
Visiting Assistant Professor of History
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

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Received on Mon Sep 17 2007 - 11:30:45 EDT