CFP: [Victorian] MLA Special Session: Transatlantic Sensations

full name / name of organization: 
John Cyril Barton
contact email: 
bartonjc@umkc.edu

CFP: MLA 2008 Special Session: Transatlantic Sensations

In recent years, nineteenth-century sensationalism has attracted much
attention among scholars of both American and British literature and
culture. Sensation literature, however, has yet to be examined in a
transatlantic context, despite the fact that the genre emerged within a
transnational publication system that shaped its development from the
early 1800s to the end of the century. This proposed MLA special session
seeks not only to map the development of the “sensation novel”—the
nineteenth century’s best-selling genre on both sides of the Atlantic—but
also to account for the emergence of a new kind of writing that informed
a range of genres and was determined by reciprocal influences that defy
traditional conceptions of a one-way cultural flow from the “old world”
to the “new.” We hope that exploring the transatlantic intersections,
commerce, and exchange among multiple literary traditions will also
provide insights into the genre’s persistent popularity with readers and
its consistent rejection (until recently) by critics and literary
historians.

Please send 500-word proposals and a short C.V. by March 25 to John
Barton (bartonjc_at_umkc.edu) Papers may treat any aspect of sensation
literature, as long as they do so in a transatlantic context or in terms
of transatlantic studies. Suggested topics for analysis include, but are
not limited to:

• The transatlantic marketplace for, or readership of, sensation
literature
• Comparative studies of popular sensational forms such as
newspapers, magazines, melodramatic theater, popular poetry, Newgate
Novels, dime novels, crime gazettes, criminal biographies, detective
fiction, new woman fiction, adventure fiction, and popular Westerns
• Representations of sex and crime, murder and seduction, mystery
and intrigue, medicine and scientific advances, in any aspect of
transatlantic sensation literature
• Comparative studies of sensational authors such as G.W. M.
Reynolds, Charles Dickens, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Harrison Ainsworth, Mary
Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Charles Reade, Ellen Price Wood,
William Gilmore Simms, Eugene Sue, George Lippard, A.J.H. Duganne, Mary
Dennison, E.D.E.N. Southworth, George Thompson, and Ned Buntline
• The role prominent editors, publishers, writers, or writer-
editors played in shaping the transatlantic marketplace for sensation
literature
• Technological innovations as represented in sensation literature
or that influenced the development of the genre
• Sensational representations of other nations and people
• Constructions of and appeals to race, class, or gender in
transatlantic sensationalism
• Racism and discrimination in a transatlantic context (e.g.,
slavery, the “Black Legend” that traveled across the Atlantic, tales of
the Spanish Inquisition, etc.)
• Historical treatments that trace the development of the genre in
England, Europe, and/or America throughout the century

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Received on Tue Feb 12 2008 - 11:39:09 EST

cfp categories: 
victorian