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

full name / name of organization: 
Matt Hart
contact email: 

CFP: Violence in the Contemporary United Kingdom
MLA Special Session, December 2006

UPDATE (corrected text)

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
Philadelphia, 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 to 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 certain forms of violence 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 matthart_at_uiuc.edu by 10 March
2006. PDF or Microsoft Word attachment.

--Matthew HartAssistant Professor of EnglishUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-Champaignmatthart_at_uiuc.edu(217) 333-4774http://www.english.uiuc.edu/-people-/faculty/hart.htmlhttp://www.opensource.boxwith.com ========================================================== From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List CFP_at_english.upenn.edu Full Information at http://cfp.english.upenn.edu or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu ==========================================================Received on Mon Feb 27 2006 - 12:18:47 EST