CFP: Novel Geographies, 1660-1900 (12/20/06; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Adam Sills
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Novel Geographies: Space and the British Novel, =


Essays sought for a new book collection focusing on the ways in which =
representations of space change in British prose fiction from the =
seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Interested authors should discuss =
how historical forces, such as colonialism, slavery, industrialization, =
or urbanization, impact the imaginary "space" of the novel and nation, =
as well as how varying constructs of identity and/or experience (e.g. of =
race, religion, class, gender, or global location) influence these newly =
emerging forms of narrative imagination or "novel geographies."

How can the physical dimensions of novels, the pages, the covers, and =
the bindings, possibly contain and encapsulate the grand, far-flung =
worlds that they conjure in our minds? The vast disproportion between =
the relatively modest spatial dimensions of novels and the immense =
phenomenological worlds that they summon in our minds is not so much a =
barrier for readers as it is an invitation to explore (at least =
imaginatively) the places situated beyond the confines of the page - =
however familiar or strange, intimate or enigmatic those places may be. =
Novels can accordingly give readers the profound satisfaction of =
journeying to the moon, over the earth, and across the ocean; they can =
also make us content to simply find shelter within the pocket of a coat =
for a while. Supposing that we prefer thrill to comfort, they can even =
take us on a precipitous dive two thousand leagues under the sea. Novels =
allow us to crisscross distant nations, to summon extinct epochs from =
yesteryear, and to penetrate the secret recesses of the heart. Indeed, =
readers may traverse the outmost depths of the universe and recall the =
inmost concerns of the self in virtually the same moment: indulging in =
the absolutely far and the entirely near with almost equal ease and =
abandonment. In thus dallying from realm to realm, world to world, =
hearth to hearth, and mind to mind, novel readers seem to defy space and =
time at once, even as they recline in their best beloved, albeit =
completely home-bound, love seats or armchairs.=20

Such eclectic and expansive representations of space no doubt reflect =
the drives and desires of readers themselves, who look to the novel as =
both a means of transport away from and, paradoxically, as a means of =
nostalgic return to their current material and social conditions. Hence, =
from their earliest incarnation, novels have posited narrative worlds =
stitched together from the scraps and patches of everyday life: making =
visible the psychological and phenomenological limits of the quotidian, =
if only to strategically exceed those limits whenever possible or =
expedient. Whether it is Haywood's clandestine gardens, the bustling =
streets of Defoe's London, Fielding's byways and inns, Richardson's =
ultra-virtuous closets, or Austen's manorial estates and country houses, =
the spaces of the novel often envisage a world populated by very real =
historical agents, while also distorting, displacing, refracting, and =
even transforming their actual socio-political landscape in profound and =
extremely telling ways. Indeed, however much these geographies may seem =
to resemble (and reassemble) authentic places in Britain or elsewhere, =
they seldom seek to mirror these geographies faithfully or =
transparently. Rather, these novel geographies, these spaces in, of, and =
beyond the confines of the narrative, bear a complex, and occasionally =
antagonistic, relationship with one another and with the rapidly =
changing, increasingly interlocked worlds in which they are produced. By =
focusing on the geographies of the novel, this collection hopes to =
demonstrate the ways in which lived space and its representation =
interact with and inform one another and, as a result, reshape the =
pluralistic and interdependent landscape of Britain itself.

Please email abstracts and titles, or completed essays, by December 20, =
2006 to Adam Sills ( and Abby Coykendall =
( Email submissions are preferred, but you can also =
use the following addresses:

Prof. Adam Sills=20

Department of English=20

Hofstra University =20

204 Mason Hall

Hempstead, NY 11549-1000


Prof. Abby Coykendall

Department of English Language and Literature

Eastern Michigan University

612 Pray-Harrold Hall

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

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Received on Sat Jan 21 2006 - 13:49:38 EST