Afterlives of the Nineteenth Century (ACLA 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Criscillia Benford, Marty Gould, Rebecca Mitchell
contact email: 

The buzz surrounding recent Austen adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies captures the ambivalence — equal parts horror and delight — evoked by the perpetual resuscitation of the nineteenth century. Leaving others to fight Austen's zombies, this seminar sets its historical sights slightly later, taking the figure of the zombie as a point of departure. Does Victorian Britain, like the zombie, refuse to remain quietly dead and buried? Or do we keep digging it up?

We invite papers that consider a wide array of nostalgic reconfigurations arising from points of contact between the nineteenth century and contemporary culture. We will explore the ways that retrospective invocations of the nineteenth century — from steampunk technologies to text-based theme parks, literary mash-ups to revisionist cinema, postcolonial negotiations with Victorian antecedents to neo-Victorian inventions – revive the past through anachronism, adaptation, and the mad fusing of genre. These composite creations leave us wondering which is the originary and which the adaptation, which the cultural colonizer and which the colonized, which the controller and which the controlled?

To this end we wish to consider adaptations variously as translations of the Victorian into a modern idiom, as acts of cultural colonization, and as newly-created hybrid structures. Can we consider adaptation as an act of translation or creolization? Is the Victorian a cultural zombie, mindlessly stalking the present as a terrifying spectacle of the past? Or is it resurrected by contemporary writers to fight the perceived evils of modernity? The deadline for proposals is 13 November 2009.

Contact Information
The seminar is being organized by Criscillia Benford (Duke University), Marty Gould (University of South Florida), and Rebecca Mitchell (University of Texas-Pan American). Although proposals are to be submitted via the ACLA website (see below), you are invited to direct any questions about the seminar to

How to Submit a Proposal
Paper proposals (which include a short author bio and an abstract of no more than 250 words) should be submitted via the ACLA website:

Additional information about the proposal process can be found here:

About the ACLA conference
The ACLA's annual conferences have a distinctive structure in which most papers are grouped into twelve-person seminars that meet two hours per day for the three days of the conference to foster extended discussion. Some eight-person (or smaller) seminars meet just the first two days of the conference. This structure allows each participant to be a full member of one seminar, and to sample other seminars during the remaining time blocks. The conference also includes plenary sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions, a business meeting, a banquet, and other events.

The ACLA will convene in New Orleans from April 1 - 4, 2010. The conference theme is "Creoles, Diasporas, Cosmopolitanism." See the ACLA website for additional information: