CFP: [Victorian] Happy Endings

full name / name of organization: 
Armelle Parey
contact email: 

Happy Endings

University of Caen Basse-Normandie, France
23rd-24th January 2009

Happy endings are frowned upon. Loved by readers, they are loathed by
critics: as the conventional conclusion to fairy tales and Victorian
novels, the vehicle of patriachal hegemony promoting conservative values
such as marriage and heterosexuality, happy endings are said to be a
burden for the novelist and the sure sign of the poverty of a text
submitting itself to the pressure of a readership avid of easy rewards.
Happy endings have thus been disparaged by critics, ever since Henry
James’s mocking definition (“a distribution at the last of prizes,
pensions, husbands, wives, babies, millions, appended paragraphs and
cheerful remarks”). Yet, scholars such as Barbara Weiss (“The Dilemma of
Happily Ever After: Marriage and the Victorian Novel”, 1984) and Alison
Booth (Famous Last Words, 1993) have shown that nineteenth-century
novelists were not the blind advocates of domestic felicity, and
contributions furthering this point will be welcome. We also propose to
extend the question of the existence and representation of happy endings
to twentieth and twenty-first century novels and films. What form and what
place do happy endings have today? Is conjugal love still a telos? Do they
still signify aesthetic and moral conservatism? Do they still display the
same ideology of reconciliation and escapism from social ills? What
narratives of gender roles do they tell? This conference will aim at
exploring the formal and ideological dimension of happy endings through
the ages.

In literature, papers will explore general fiction, with a particular
attention to texts in which happy endings conventionnally play a major
part: romance, children’s literature and (fairy) tales --as well as their
rewriting (by Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt or Jeanette Winterson).

On screen contributions will question filmic representations of literary
happy endings, or more generally, on the importance of happy endings in
British and American cinema, in classic or contemporary films.

Please send a 300-word abstract to and
The deadline for submission is June 1st, 2008. Notifications will be
mailed in July 2008.
Please mention in your proposal any audio-visual equipment needed.
Please include complete contact information (name, home address,
email, phone, affiliation) along with a short CV.

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Received on Tue Dec 11 2007 - 08:12:23 EST