UPDATE: [Victorian] First Impressions in Victorian literature

full name / name of organization: 
Christy Rieger
contact email: 

39th Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 10-13, 2008
Buffalo, New York

Panel: First Impressions in Victorian Literature

Although the truism that “first impressions matter” has been with us for
some time, the popularity of Malcolm Gladwell’s _Blink_, a study of rapid
cognition, has renewed interest in the role that the unconscious plays in
how we judge others. First impressions also play a significant and
multifaceted role in the writings of Victorian authors ranging from the
Brontës, to Dickens, to Tennyson. This panel seeks papers that examine
the role and significance of first impressions in Victorian literature.
Questions of interest include: to what extent do the Victorians see the
first impression as an accurate index of character? To what extent may
characters manipulate the impressions that they make upon one other? How
do authors use the erroneous first impression as a narrative device, and
to what ends? How do signs of racial, class, or gendered identity shape
first impressions? Topics may include but are not limited to:

The Victorian science of intuition
Victorian phrenology and physiognomy
The role of first impressions in biographical writings/character sketches
One’s self-perception vs. public image
The role of photography in the construction of public image
The validity of eye-witness accounts
Reading the face as text

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA
panel; however panelists can only present one paper. Convention
participants may present at a paper session panel and also present at a
creative session or participate in a roundtable.

300-500 word abstracts to Christy Rieger at crieger_at_mercyhurst.edu by
OCTOBER 1, 2007 (revised deadline).

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Received on Mon Aug 13 2007 - 10:33:36 EDT