Mind-Body Matters: Picturing the Victorian Frame of Mind (May 1-3; Proposal due October 1)

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Midwest Victorian Studies Association
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Mind-Body Matters: Picturing the Victorian Frame of Mind
Seminar Leader: Professor Nancy Rose Marshall, Department of Art History, University of Wisconsin

Midwest Victorian Studies Association
University of Iowa
May 1-3, 2015
Deadline October 1st, 2014


In the sonnet "Heart's Hope" of 1871, Dante Gabriel Rossetti famously wrote "thy soul I know not from thy body," characterizing a material form that was newly charged and elusively bounded. As physiology and psychology—or body and personality/spirit—became more closely interlinked in the Victorian period, an increasing acknowledgement that the "mind" was dependent on the "brain" highlighted the study of physical responses and sensations.

This session invites essays analyzing the changing definitions and understanding of the senses in Victorian Britain in light of new scientific investigations and theories, with an emphasis on—although not necessarily limited to—visual culture. Potential areas of inquiry include: art criticism as a way of managing or defining limits of vision; color and color theory; art's relationship to the senses; the representation of memory; visual culture connected to Charles Darwin's ideas of sexual selection and evolution; animal study; imaging the emergent fields of physiology neuroscience and psychology; classed, gendered or racialized sensory studies; sensation and spectacle; or mesmerism, spiritualism and the supernatural.

Participants in MVSA seminars will write 5-7 page papers that will be pre-circulated to the other participants prior to the conference. During the seminars, the seminar leader and participants will identify important points of intersection and divergence among the papers and identify future areas of inquiry and collaboration. The seminar format allows a larger number of scholars to participate in MVSA and to seek financial support from their respective institutions to attend the conference and discuss a shared area of scholarly interest. Seminars are limited to 12 participants.

Seminar proposals that are not accepted may be submitted to the general pool of MVSA conference submissions, due October 31

Send a 300-word abstract and 1-page vita (both as MWord documents) by October 1, 2014, to Nancy Rose Marshall at nrmarshall@wisc.edu.