‘Many kindred topics’: exploring the potential of the Victorian underground

In 1873, American writer and explorer Thomas Wallace Knox published Underground: Or, Life Below the Surface. Weighing in at a hefty 953 pages and drawing on the author’s own personal experience as well as ‘numerous books of travel’, ‘literary gentlemen’, and fictional and scientific sources, it offered an apparently exhaustive examination of every underground space at that point known to mankind: mines, riverbeds, vaults, caves, and many more.[1] Indeed, its subtitle was almost as long as the winding, subterranean labyrinths

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CFP The Body and Pseudoscience in the Long Nineteenth Century, Interdisciplinary Conference, 18 June 2016, Newcastle University

Call for Papers:  The Body and Pseudoscience in the Long Nineteenth Century, Interdisciplinary Conference, 18 June 2016, Newcastle University  ‘Sciences we now retrospectively regard as heterodox or marginal cannot be considered unambiguously to have held that status at a time when no clear orthodoxy existed that could confer that status upon them’ (Alison Winter, 1997). The nineteenth century witnessed the drive to consolidate discrete scientific disciplines, many of which were concerned with the body. Attempts were made to clarify the

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Domesticating the Cosmos: Plurality and Familiarity

Ben Carver (University of Exeter) This post accompanies Ben Carver’s Journal of Victorian Culture article published (2013). It can be read in full here. My article, ‘‘“A Gleaming and Glorious Star”: Rethinking History in the Plurality-of-Worlds Debate’ looks at how astronomical knowledge reframed debates about history in the nineteenth century. In 1817, Thomas Chalmers considered the possibility of other worlds and quoted from the Psalms for a modern age of astronomical knowledge in which orthodox Christian cosmogony seemed to be troubled in new

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Victorian Literature and the History and Philosophy of Psychology

Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University In March I had the opportunity to participate in a symposium at the British Psychological Society’s History and Philosophy of Psychology (HPP) Conference at the University of Surrey. This session was convened by Gregory Tate (Surrey), and included four papers: ‘Definitions of sanity and insanity in sensation novels by Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’ by Helena Ifill (Sheffield), ‘Diagnosis and mental trauma in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette’ by Alexandra Lewis (Aberdeen), ‘The self-diagnosis of Sydney

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CFP: Special Issue Journal Call for Essay Submissions – Poetic Optimism and the Post-Enlightenment Social Identity, 1794-1878

To complement the upcoming Paranoia and Pain conference (2-4 April 2012) at the University of Liverpool (http://paranoiapain.liv.ac.uk), we are developing a collection of articles for a special issue journal of Studies in the Literary Imagination entitled ‘Poetic Optimism and the Post-Enlightenment Social Identity, 1794-1878’. This collection will explore the meaning and application of poetic optimism in relation to the question of social identity from 1794 to 1878. How is optimism shared through versification during this period? What allusive forms did

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Diarmid Finnegan, ‘Exeter-Hall Science and Evangelical Rhetoric in mid-Victorian London’

In his article forthcoming in JVC issue 16.1, Diarmid Finnegan explores the ways in which science was mobilized in an immensely popular series of lectures held in London’s Exeter Hall and organized by the fledgling Young Men’s Christian Association. As well as offering a fresh look at the relations between evangelicalism and science in the mid-Victorian period, the article recovers the significance attached to platform culture by evangelicals concerned about the declining influence of the pulpit. Redeeming the much-maligned Exeter

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Tiffany Watt-Smith, ‘Darwin’s Flinch: Sensation Theatre and Scientific Looking in 1872’

Tiffany Watt-Smith won the Journal of Victorian Culture Graduate Prize Essay Competition, 2009. Published in JVC 15.1, her fascinating article explores the similarities between scientific observation and theatrical spectatorship, beginning with Charles Darwin’s self-conscious recollection in his Expressions of the Emotions of how he flinched before a puff-adder at the London Zoological Gardens. The author examines how Darwin’s scientific meditation on emotional gesture and expression was influenced by sensational performances in the theatre and the ways in which he encouraged

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