NeMLA2017: The Aesthetics of Deception in Victorian Writing

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Sandra M. Leonard / Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

“The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art.”—Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying

What is the difference between lying and art, and in what way does one justify the other? This panel at the NeMLA March 23-26 in Baltimore, Maryland, will explore deception and transgression in the compositional practices of Victorian authors and Victorian fictional characters. In a broader framework, this panel seeks to address the following questions: How did Victorians conceptualize the duty of an author to truth? In what ways did imagination cross ethical boundaries for the Victorian writer and audience? How and with what ethical implications did Victorian conceptions of original authorship emerge as distinct from previous models?

This panel welcomes papers on Victorian fraud, hoaxes, plagiarism, and contrived identity, as well as Victorian writers who responded to the practice of deception in art. Authors may wish to address the influence of the rise of journalism on expectations of fidelity, social and gender expectations of authorial identity, the effect of utilitarian and pragmatic philosophies on artistic production, cultural appropriation and rejection, and textual scandals.

Essay topics are not limited to, but may include:

*Pen names

*Fiction as lying

*Journalistic hoaxes


*Charles Reade

*Detective fiction

*Copyright and piracy


*Intellectual property

*Faked scholarship

*Representations of Thomas Chatterton

Abstracts should be submitted using the Northeast Modern Language Association's online submission system, found at  You will need to create an account to submit your abstract online. The due date for abstract submission is September 30, 2016.