UPDATE: [Victorian] Bric-a-Brac 2008: Victorian Culture, Commodities and Curios

full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer Sattaur
contact email: 

Bric-à-Brackery 2008:
Victorian Culture, Commodities and Curios
University of Aberystwyth
28th â€" 29th July

bric-à-brac, (n): Old curiosities of artistic character, knick-knacks,
antiquarian odds-and-ends, such as old furniture, plate, china, fans,
statuettes, and the like (OED)

Derived from the French for ‘at random’, the phrase 'bric-à-brac' was
first introduced to the English language in 1840 by Thackeray who
used it to describe a visit to the Palace of Versailles. The purpose of
this conference is to use Thackeray’s expression to debate the nature
of the impact of the curious, exotic and downright odd on Victorian
literature and culture.

Bric-à-brac firstly suggests medley and clutter without apparent
purpose, and one of the themes of the conference will be to explore
sites of unusual concurrence (for example freak shows, carnivals,
pawn-shops, auction houses or even ‘the city’). We also want the
conference to explore the ways in which bric-à-brac might bring the
alien into everyday settings, the past into the present, or the wild into
the domestic. Commercial exchange, buying and selling, the meeting
of poverty and wealth also underwrite the notion of bric-à-brac. As
such the title lends itself equally well to a discussion of Victorian
economics and capitalism. But we also want to focus on writing â€"
clashes of character, idiom and taste within literature and the
miscellaneous nature of Victorian magazine culture.

Victorian literature and society invites scrutiny of the ways in which
small objects or activities come together to signify larger cultural
concerns. We invite papers that engage with and celebrate the spirit of
this diversity in Victorian writing.

Suggested topics for papers include:
The usage of particular objects within the writing of certain authors
Objects and the uncanny
Consumerist culture and literature
The recycling of objects in literature
Victorian design and literature
Wunderkammers and Collectors and literature
Pawn Shops, Museums, Freak-shows, in literature
Science, empirical data collection, and literature
And anything else that brings the material into collision with

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words along with a brief biography
to: bricabrac_at_aber.ac.uk, or by post to: Jon Shears or Jen Sattaur, c/o
Department of English, University of Aberystwyth, Hugh Owen
Building, Penglais Campus, SY23 3DY.

Submissions deadline: 1 April 2008

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Received on Tue Jan 22 2008 - 07:01:10 EST