Aliases and Editors: Negotiating Identity in 19th Century Periodicals (Panel), March 2012

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NeMLA Annual Convention - Rochester, New York
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The following CFP is for a panel taking place at the Annual Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Convention in Rochester, New York on March 12-15, 2012.

The periodical writer often depended upon establishing a distinguishable identity to achieve his/her popularity. Yet some of the most successful examples were pseudonymous figures like Charles Lamb's Elia and James Hogg's Ettrick Shepherd. Such figures often played fast and loose with notions of stable identity, altering and contradicting their fictional backstories with each month's contribution. Operating through such mercurial personas, these writers utilized the market's potential for fluctuating identity described by Lynch.

In addition to the writers, many periodical editors grew to be recognizable personalities through their critical reviews and heated rivalries. Their strong cultural and political views would shape the identities of their publications. A figure like Francis Jeffrey had to maintain a stable, recognizable identity so that his Edinburgh Review could be distinguished from competitors. Along with embodying the need for distinguishable identity, the control these editors exerted over their publications reinforced the writers' need to remain flexible.

This panel explores the influence of the British periodical press in shaping popular perceptions of identity as well as the authorial personae of Romantic writers. How do the pseudonymous works of such authors as Charles Lamb and James Hogg undermine ideals of stable identity? How did the rigid standards of editors/reviewers provide periodicals with strong identities? How did working around such rigidity affect how authors presented themselves to their readers?

250 – 500 word abstracts should be submitted to Keith Friedlander at by September 30, 2011 accompanied by a brief biographical description.