Historical Fictions and Fictions of History, 1680-1830 - 2 July 2010

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University of Portsmouth
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The symposium will investigate the nature and development of historical writing in the long eighteenth century, focusing on the unstable boundaries between fiction and history. While Sir Walter Scott's Waverley (1814) has traditionally been taken, by Lukács and others, as the seminal instance of the historical novel, this conception has recently been challenged by critics such as Richard Maxwell, Katie Trumpener, and Michael Goode. Yet, extrapolating from Mark Salber Phillips’s work on generic developments in eighteenth-century history, the pressing need for further enquiry into the complex and varied nature of fictionalised history becomes evident. This currently under-researched body of work raises important questions about national identity, Britain’s relationship with Europe and the colonial world, the nature of modernity, and the role of culture. Our aim is to promote a detailed examination of the links between ideas of the fictional and the historical in the period between 1680 and 1830.

Possible subjects for discussion might include:

• gender and sexuality in history
• nation and national identity
• fiction, history and empire
• narrative in eighteenth-century history
• historical fiction in/and culture
• narrative and stadial history

Abstracts of 200-250 words should be sent to Dr Ben Dew (benjamin.dew@port.ac.uk) by 1 May 2010. The conference will take place on 2 July 2010.

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