Liberal Subjects, Then and Now

deadline for submissions: 
March 12, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
NAVSA 2023 Roundtable

Liberalism’s nebulous contours have long animated studies of nineteenth-century British literature and culture. This roundtable seeks to extend these discussions by turning to this tradition’s imprint upon our practices and conceptions of teaching and scholarship. We invite papers that trouble the continued privileging of the “liberal subject,” a term that encompasses ideas of individualism, originality, and progress–values whose peculiar Victorianism has been analyzed by Elaine Hadley, Amanda Anderson, and Lauren Goodlad, among others. How does our inheritance of historical liberal ideals continue to shape our work as teachers, students, administrators, and researchers, especially in the context of the “decline” of the humanities, technology’s encroachment on writing and critical thinking, and planetary crisis? And how are our critiques necessarily, inextricably intertwined with the “lived reality of liberal thinking” (Anderson, Bleak Liberalism)? We welcome innovative approaches to these questions.


Topics may include: 

  • Publishing: “publish or perish,” the monograph, single-author publication
  • Argumentation:  the language of “intervention” and “stakes” 
  • Tenure and promotion 
  • The idea of the liberal arts
  • New forms of the dissertation 
  • Curricular innovation in all aspects of the classroom
  • Undisciplining the Victorian syllabus 
  • Collaboration and mentorship
  • Activism
  • Public scholarship 
  • Critiques of liberalism beyond Victorian studies, e.g., from other fields (disability studies, queer of color theory, trans studies, ecocriticism, Indigenous studies) and disciplines (anthropology, political science, psychology, economy, history) 


Please submit a 200-word abstract for a 5-7 minute paper and a CV to Angela Du ( and Lucy Kim ( by March 12, 2023.