George Eliot at 200

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Middlemarch ends by praising those “who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” This was not, of course, the fate of the novel’s author. Born in 1819, George Eliot became one of the best-known writers of Victorian England. In addition to her novels, Eliot wrote on social and religious questions, translated German philosophy and criticism, and lived in an at-the-time scandalous relationship with fellow writer George Henry Lewes. Few regarded Eliot with indifference: Nietzsche called her a “little moralistic female;” Trollope complained that she was “obscure from her too great desire to be pungent;” Woolf said that she created “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.”

Two hundred years after her birth, Eliot remains central to discussions of literary realism and nineteenth-century intellectual life. Her work also bears on many contemporary concerns. For instance, most critics have seen Eliot as an exemplar of liberalism; her work thus helps us think about our own political arrangements and the much-discussed “retreat of liberalism.” Likewise, Eliot’s treatment of gender has been much debated, and her position in relation to the varieties of feminism is still contentious. And in her final novel, Daniel Deronda, Eliot used Zionism to explore the intersections of cultures and peoples; the novel offers controversial answers to important questions about history, identity, and empire.

This panel will probe the legacy of Eliot on her centennial. Panelists may present on individual Eliot works (fiction, criticism, translation) or her oeuvre and life more generally. Where have Eliot studies been, and where are they going? Why read Eliot in the twenty-first century?

View the full CFP and submit abstracts here: Deadline for abstracts is September 30.

More information on the NEMLA conference here: