CFP: Mapping the Victorian Novel (grad) (2/11/07; NAVSA, 10/10/07-10/13/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Jamie E Oldham
contact email: 

We are seeking additional papers for a proposed (graduate student) panel at NAVSA's 2007 Conference in San Francisco. Deadline: 2/11/07

This panel proposes that the concept of mapping occupied a prominent place in the Victorian consciousness and embodied the desire to translate disorderly world experience into intelligibility. The need to map geographic, ideological, and narrative spaces into understandable concretizations of reality was often an attempt to address more widely circulating concerns about the shifting nature of literature, society, and culture in a time when these fluctuating categorizations threatened to upset the well-ordered nature of British existence. Cultural cartography was symptomatic of British anxieties concerning changing definitions of identity and category, and attempted to assuage these fears by mapping print culture into recognizable narrative forms and genres, championing the cognitive ability to make the world legible. However, these systems of legibility and legitimacy were problematized by
the structuration of movement and novelty into modalities of understanding that strove to corroborate intelligibility as dominant literary and ideological practices. The act of mapping spaces simultaneously solidifies realities while also offering up the possibility for creative departure; what narratives subsist in the liminal space between the amorphous life experience and the reality of pen on paper?

*The first paper addresses issues of space and movement in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass," through a reading inflected by M. M. Bakhtin's concept of the chronotope. Alice's ability to traverse this landscape is closely related to her ability to map it, an act of visual mastery unavailable to her in Wonderland. In Looking-Glass World, the more mature (and thus more culturally adept) Alice engages in a form of cultural cartography that is suggestive of the activities and viewing practices of many nineteenth-century British travel writers. Alice's overt interest in issues of geography necessitates an examination of the spatial aspects of this novel, which it is the aim of this paper to provide.

*The second paper explores the narrative structure of Dickens' "Bleak House" to examine Esther Summerson's role in mapping out both her narrative and her identity. As both a character and a narrator Esther is afforded remarkable authorial legitimacy in navigating her story and ultimately wrests narrative control away from the omniscient narrator to map out a better understanding of her character. This narrative mapping mirrors Dickens' own attempts to map out a space for himself as an author struggling to situate himself within literary tradition while offering a text quite literally novel.

We look forward to receiving paper proposals that contend with any of the issues raised above. Please email or Please attach an abstract (.doc,.pdf) with the following by 2/11/07:
--Proposal of 500 words or less
--Institutional affiliation
--Contact Information
--Please title your email "Panel Proposal"
Thank you,

--Jamie Oldham and Jane Lee, panel organizers

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Received on Mon Feb 12 2007 - 04:22:55 EST