CFP: Violence in the Contemporary UK (3/10/06; MLA '06)

full name / name of organization: 
Matthew Hart
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CFP: Violence in the Contemporary United Kingdom

MLA Special Session, December 2006
Abstracts by 10 March 2006

Matthew Hart
Assistant Professor of English
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

For a proposed Special Session at the December 2006 MLA
Convention in New Orleans, I am looking for papers that
discuss the theme, problem, object, or practice of violence in
recent British and Northern Irish writing. I will consider
abstracts until 10 March 2006, at which point I wish to
collaborate with two or three others in drafting a panel
proposal to reach the MLA by 1 April 2006.

George Orwell once admitted that, "the gentleness of English
civilisation is mixed up with barbarities and anachronisms."
But even granting that Orwell is hardly the most reliable
witness on the limits of English gentility (leave that to the
Celts or the citizens of the post-colonies), few would deny
that the contemporary UK has seen unprecedented anxiety about
new, newly popular, and newly apocalyptic forms of violence.
For a nation that fought two world wars in order to avoid ever
fighting another, the UK seems to have a rare appetite for
military violence. In the period since 1979 alone, it has
fought three full-dress wars, a long anti-guerilla campaign,
and numerous "humanitarian" or "police" actions under the
aegis of the UN, EU, or NATO. From Bloody Sunday to the
Brighton Bombing, political violence has been something of a
norm in the UK--and with the phenomenon of the July 2005
Islamist suicide attacks in London, the unexamined divide
between mainland "violence" and Northern Irish "terrorism"
seems more untenable than ever. The other "domestic"
violence--from the fists and feet of misogyny to the new legal
problem of "battered wife syndrome"--has rarely escaped the
public eye, while the press seldom tires of the various forms
of public disorder. Thus, the mugging "crisis" of the 1970s
and '80s; race riots and racial attacks from Brixton or
Burnley; football hooliganism in Liverpool, Edinburgh, or
Rome; and the regular weekend punch-ups associated with the
new terrors of binge drinking and chav culture.

How have literary artists dealt with such manifestations of
violence? Are there forms of violence that are specific to
the UK, its nations, provinces, regions, or colonial
dependencies? Have writers from Britain or Northern Ireland
offered new insights into, or theories of, questions of
violence, war, or disorder? Are certain genres or
styles--such as ethnographies, thrillers, procedurals, or
histories--particularly apposite for the representation or
analysis of violent acts? Is the UK in actual fact a more
violent place than before; or is the myth of Arcadian
gentleness destined to meet the same fate as other Britannic

Abstracts of 1 page to Matthew Hart at by 10
March 2006. PDF format preferred; Microsoft Word attachment

Matthew Hart
Assistant Professor of English,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
208 English Building, MC-718
608 S. Wright St.,
Urbana, IL 61801
T: (217) 333-4774
F: (217) 333-4321

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Received on Sat Oct 29 2005 - 14:49:12 EDT