Victorian Clichés and Orthodoxies (NVSA): Columbia University: April 13-15, 2012

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Victorian Studies Association
contact email: 
david.kurnick@rutgers.edu

NVSA solicits submissions for its annual conference; the topic this year is Victorian Clichés and Orthodoxies.

The conference will feature a keynote panel including Nicholas Dames, Yopie Prins, and Jim Secord, and a visit to the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

* * *

The Northeast Victorian Studies Association calls for papers on cliché and orthodoxy in and about the Victorian period. We encourage papers that reflect on Victorian conceptions of conventional thinking, practice, and expression as well as on the critical orthodoxies that govern contemporary approaches to the period. How did the Victorians understand cliché—a term that comes into its current use only in the 1890s—in literary culture, or in aesthetics (art, music and theater) more generally? What orthodoxies organized scientific inquiry, and what was science's relation to religious orthodoxy? How do we understand the marriage of heterodoxy and orthodoxy in religious movements as various as the Oxford movement and low-church revivalism? How did orthodoxy regulate education and domestic life? While the supposed political stability, liberalism, and realistic aesthetics of the Victorian period have often been contrasted with the social and artistic experimentation of Romanticism and modernism, such features of the period have been both vigorously debunked and vigorously defended as more dynamic than previously thought. We invite papers that reflect on the status of those critical shibboleths (and on the catch-phrases used to express them: “age of equipoise,” “the marriage plot,” “the gospel of work”) as well as on the literary touchstones that the nineteenth century seems to have produced in higher volume than any other. We also invite reconsiderations of older and newer critical texts—from The Victorian Frame of Mind to Culture and Imperialism and beyond—that have set the terms of debate for generations of scholars.

Topics for consideration:

Form and Cliché
- Victorian melodramas and tearjerkers
- ideology and form
- “normal literature” and extraordinary texts
- the invention of genre fiction
- readers’ pleasures in repetition and recognition
- canonicity as critical orthodoxy
- poetic and prosodic orthodoxies
- parody as ridicule of literary convention

Religious and Scientific Orthodoxies
- religious authenticity and belief
- religious orthodoxy as an adventure
- Christian orthodoxy and its opponents (atheism, agnosticism, free thinking, spiritualism, etc.)
- revivalism and the Oxford movement
- scientific naturalism’s attack on orthodoxy
- science as orthodoxy
- scientific orthodoxies

Victorian Cliché
- “We are not amused”
- “Spare the rod, spoil the child”
- “The angel in the house”
- “The dismal science”
- “Lie back and think of England”
- clichés in Victorian advertising
- cliché and mass media (cliché as a function of printing technology)
- the history of clichés; how do innovations become clichés?
- ready-made phrases, generic expressions

Victorian Social and Cultural Orthodoxies
- political and economic orthodoxies
- were the Victorians sexually orthodox?
- unspoken orthodoxies; what goes without saying in the Victorian period?
- orthodoxy as truth and as convention: did the valence of orthodoxy change in the period?
- orthodoxy and authority
- conduct manuals, self-help, etiquette guides
- educational orthodoxies

Our Critical Orthodoxies
- separate spheres
- “Always historicize!”
- prudery and repression
- the marriage plot
- the ideology of progress
- liberalism and individualism
- the hermeneutics of suspicion
- modernist clichés about the Victorian period
- angel/whore view of women
- round vs. flat characters
- the Bildungsroman

Critical Stock Phrases
- “the crisis of faith”
- “the gospel of work”
- “the age of equipoise”
- “the age of doubt”
- “the age of compromise”
- “the Victorian sage”
- “the two nations”

Canonical Critical Texts
- Buckley’s Victorian Temper
- Armstrong’s Victorian Poetry
- Langbaum’s Poetry of Experience
- Trilling’s Sincerity and Authenticity
- Marcus’s Other Victorians
- Gilbert and Gubar’s Madwoman in the Attic
- Williams’s Culture and Society
- Houghton’s Victorian Frame of Mind
- J. Hillis Miller’s Disappearance of God
- Levine’s Realistic Imagination
- D. A. Miller’s Novel and the Police
- Sedgwick’s Between Men
- Said’s Culture and Imperialism

Literary Touchstones
- “Reader, I married him.”
- “Theirs not to reason why,/ Theirs but to do and die.”
- “Why always Dorothea?”
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
- “The Everlasting Yea/Everlasting No”
- “nature red in tooth and claw”
- “sweetness and light”
- “How do I love thee?”
- the “Dickensian” and Dickens’s characters’ tag-lines
- Trollope’s titles

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Proposals (no more than 500 words) by Oct. 15, 2011 (e-mail submissions strongly encouraged, in Word format):

Professor David Kurnick
Chair, NVSA Program Committee
david.kurnick@rutgers.edu

English Department
Rutgers University
510 George Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Please note: all submissions to NVSA are evaluated anonymously. Successful proposals will stay within the 500-word limit and make a compelling case for the talk and its relation to the conference topic.

Please do not send complete papers, and do not include your name on the proposal.

Please include your name, institutional and email addresses, and proposal title in a cover letter. Papers should take 15 minutes (20 minutes maximum) so as to provide ample time for discussion.

The Coral Lansbury Travel Grant ($100.00) and George Ford Travel Grant ($100.00), given in memory of key founding members of NVSA, are awarded annually to the graduate student, adjunct instructor, or independent scholar who must travel the greatest distance to give a paper at our conference. Apply by indicating in your cover letter that you wish to be considered. Please indicate from where you will be traveling, and mention if you have other sources of funding.

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
gender_studies_and_sexuality
interdisciplinary
poetry
postcolonial
science_and_culture
victorian