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Libidinal Lives: Economies of Desire in the Long Nineteenth Century

In his controversial work Libidinal Economy (1974) Jean-Franҫois Lyotard famously remarked 'every political economy is libidinal'. With this radical pronouncement, Lyotard identified all hegemonic structures as susceptible to the affective ebb and flow of desire. Forming the cornerstone of the new 'libidinal materialism', Libidinal Economy, alongside Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus (1972), saw the desiring body as inextricably bound up with economic, political and fiscal operations. In the decades that followed, a wealth of theoretical work drew on this challenging juxtaposition of the libidinal and the economic. Notably, Lawrence Birkens's Consuming Desire (1988) postulated a parallel development of sexology and political economy and more recently Regenia Gagnier's The Insatiability of Human Wants (2000) elaborated on the question of production and reproduction in Victorian Aesthetics.

Building on this important and often contentious body of scholarship, this collection of essays seeks to explore the interrelatedness of desire, sexuality and economic processes in the literary, scientific and cultural worlds of the long nineteenth century. Papers might consider the role of libidinal impulses in social and political formations, or question whether desire functions as a cohesive, communal force. They might examine a spectrum of nineteenth-century debates with reference to how they position sexuality as the central and influencing practice in an ideological matrix. In addition they might consider whether we find an undercurrent of competing desires in the patterns of pleasure, production, reproduction and consumption during the nineteenth century, and ask to what extent these desires influenced twentieth and twenty-first century perceptions of the Victorians.

Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:

 Production, consumption, creativity and libidinal impulses
 Sexual/textual lives
 Commodity/bodily fetishism and pornography
 Political/social bodies of desire
 Gift theory and eroticism
 Non-'normative' libidinal economies of sensation and pleasure: masturbation, fellation, same-sex intimacy
 The gothic, cannibalism, the death drive and desire
 Imperialist desires and 'other' economies
 Colonial and post-colonial legacies and heritage
 Theoretical afterlives, ie., Jean-Franҫois Lyotard, Bataille, Deleuze & Guattari, Eagleton, and Queer Theory etc.

Please send abstracts of 500 words (for chapters of 6,000-8,000 words) along with a CV to Jane Ford and Kim Edwards Keates to jane.ford@port.ac.uk and kim.edwards@liverpool.ac.uk by 1st April 2011. The deadline for completed essays is 1st October 2011. Any queries are welcomed.