Victorian Form--Victorian Division--Follow-up on MLA CFP

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Victorian Division, MLA
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As the MLA allows only a very brief space in their listing of calls for papers, it seemed to us that it would be useful to disseminate a somewhat ampler description of what we are looking for in proposals for the next conference in Los Angeles (January 2011; submission deadline 6 March 2010).

Our hope is that our two panels--Victorian Form (I): Good Form, and Victorian Form (II): Bad Form--will participate in and enrich recent conversations about a return to form in Victorian Studies. While we welcome and expect presentations that develop out of concrete instances, we are particularly interested in papers that will allow us the opportunity (through their topics or their arguments or both) to think about the broader methodological and conceptual implications of an engagement with form, in the Victorian period or in contemporary criticism addressing the Victorian period.

Among the many broad issues on which papers might touch are the relationship between historical approaches to literary studies and more formal ones and the relationship between political concerns and the exigencies of structure or literary convention.
Is the turn to form a challenge to historicism? Is it an abandonment of politics? Is there an ethics to formal commitments, to formal transgressions? How do some of the typical ways of engaging form as an aesthetic category relate to their apparent ethical or political analogues? How does a focus on form support or challenge ideas of genre?

These questions are given merely as examples of the kinds of inquiry that might help us to develop a robust conversation on form over the course of our panels. We would also very much welcome presentations that take the issue in unexpected directions.

Please submit 250-350 word abstracts by 6 March to Jonah Siegel(

Executive Committee, Victorian Division, MLA