Anxious Forms: Bodies in Crisis in Victorian Literature and Culture

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The University of Glasgow

Anxious Forms: Bodies in Crisis in Victorian Literature and Culture

August 22, 2014 – The University of Glasgow

Anxious Forms is a one-day interdisciplinary conference which seeks to engage with the Victorian era as a period of anxiety manifested in physical form, be it the human body, national, ideological, and scientific bodies, or literary and artistic forms. Recent criticism of the long nineteenth century has viewed the period as one of crisis: a collection of critical moments which are framed as decisive, paradigmatic shifts. Criticism frequently considers the physical manifestations of anxieties surrounding industrial progress, imperial expansion, and scientific and medical advancements, as well as shifting concepts of gender, religion, race, class, and sexuality.

However, some scholars have started to question the basis of such a reading, asking to what extent this is a contemporary application of the concept of 'anxiety'. This conference intends to open up this debate and stimulate discussion across disciplines.

Confirmed speakers include Dr Nicholas Daly (University College Dublin), Dr Christine Ferguson (University of Glasgow) and Dr Megan Coyer (University of Glasgow). Through this conference we wish to highlight the University of Glasgow as a major centre for multidisciplinary Victorian research and intend this to be the first annual nineteenth-century conference hosted by the University, with an accompanying published collection of papers.
Topics for papers might include, but are not limited to:

Bodies of publication
Narrative forms
Identity crises
Objectified, pornographic or voyeuristic bodies
Spiritual, supernatural, and spectral bodies
Bodies of commodification and consumption
Bodies politic, national and foreign bodies
Environmental, geological and archeological bodies
Medicine and the medical humanities
Biological, mechanical, and prosthetic bodies
Forms of cartography and travel writing
Art, illustration, film and photography
Collected and classified bodies
Bodies of knowledge

We welcome proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers, as well as from more established academics. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words for 20-minute conference papers, together with an academic CV, to by May 15, 2014. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of the following week.

The conference is free to attend for both speakers and non-speakers; please contact us (Abigail Boucher and Alexandra Foulds at to register.