Events and Calls for Papers

Call for Papers

INCS 2023: April 13-16, Knoxville, TN

Nineteenth-Century Movement(s)

Deadline: 7 October 2022

The nineteenth century was marked by accelerating movement(s): of peoples, commodities, ideas, technologies, and feelings. The period was characterized by the modernization of transportation, communication, and travel. Dance, theatre, sports, and literature flourished through new forms of physical movement that moved audiences in affectively novel ways. Political, social, and aesthetic movements reshaped culture and society. We welcome proposals on nineteenth-century movement and movements of all kinds.

INCS has a unique panel format to facilitate discussion and collaboration. Presenters pre-circulate written versions of their papers shortly before the conference and give 7-8 minute synopses during the panels, leaving ample time for dialogue and exchange. View the full call for papers here.

For paper proposals, upload a 200-word abstract and a one-page CV on this google form by 7 October 2022. For panel proposals, please provide a brief overview of the panel in an e-mail message and attach all paper proposals and CVs.


Dickens Day 2022

‘Beginning Dickens’

Saturday 8th October 2022, Senate House London, UK

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

After a hiatus of two years, we are very happy to announce that Dickens Day is returning in 2022. Accordingly, the topic for this year’s conference is ‘Beginning Dickens’, as we take this moment to resume our discussion of Dickens and his works and begin again. Publishing his novels in serial instalments meant that Dickens had to think carefully about the openings of his works to ensure readers were suitably intrigued and invested to buy the next instalment. As Dickens developed as a writer, so he began to plan his novels in advance; his early works therefore can offer a stark contrast between how a story starts and how it ends, while his later works can be analysed for any early warnings or foreshadowing of later plot developments.

Equally, there is also opportunity here to consider how we, as readers, begin Dickens. Such is the author’s fame that his reputation always precedes him, so what does it mean for a modern reader to experience Dickens for the first time today? Do we encounter him through adaptations first, before turning to the original? How does Dickens match our expectations? And how do we encourage new readers to begin Dickens?

Finally, there is the consideration of Dickens’s own life. How did he begin his life and career; and how did he embrace or encourage new beginnings and reinventions through his life?


Victorian Antipathies

4-5 November 2022

University of Stuttgart, Germany

Confirmed keynote speaker: Pamela Gilbert

In this conference, we aim to explore the neglected ‘opposite’ of sympathy: antipathy. Sympathy has long been a focal point of Victorian studies, so much so that Carolyn Burdett (2020) has recently asked with reference to George Eliot: ‘Is there anything left to say about sympathy […]?’ While sympathy in its various guises – as concept, feeling, intersubjective ideal, connection between characters, and ethical appeal to readers – has undoubtedly been a productive field of enquiry, this one-sided focus on sympathy in criticism carries the danger of overstating its role. Also referring to Eliot’s work, Rae Greiner points out that the ‘wealth of talk is disproportionate to the narrow fund of sympathy represented in [Eliot’s] novels’ (2009, 300). Besides sympathy, other, similarly important if less appealing, feelings and actions, including hatred and protracted conflict that may lead, in their extremes, to violence and murder, occupy a defining place in Victorian literature. This conference turns the spotlight on these various manifestations of antipathy in Victorian literature and culture to explore their literary and cultural significance, to determine their aesthetic implications, and to identify their progressive potential.

Victorian psychologist and philosopher Alexander Bain argued that the ‘very name “antipathy” implies the deathblow to fellow-feeling’ (1859, 183), suggesting that antipathy was, like sympathy, of concern to the Victorians. It features in explorations of relations between mental and physical aspects, self and other, individuals and groups. Bain defines antipathy as a ‘malevolent passion’ that ‘may arise without the provocation of injury, as in the antipathies of race, of caste, and of creed’ and has its ‘highest activity’ in ‘Warfare, Hostility, Combat’ (Bain 1870, 265). Similar to Bain, who explores the physiological basis of antipathy, his contemporary Sophie Bryant claims that ‘the physical accompaniment’ precisely distinguishes antipathy from mere dislike: ‘Antipathy is full of horrid thrill: it stirs the physical being like a shock: it is a thing of nervous tremors and heart-pangs and even deranged digestion’ (Bryant 1895, 366). Victorian writers, too, showed a keen interest in creative explorations of antipathy across a wide range of themes and in diverse fictional and non-fictional genres. In 21st -century Victorian Studies, therefore, Bryant’s assessment that the ‘analysis of antipathy and its relation to sympathy is a subject which may be worth more detailed and careful study than it appears as yet to have received’ (Bryant 1895, 365) remains as timely and urgent as it was in the nineteenth century.

Taking Bryant’s call for the study of antipathy as our point of departure, this conference aims to contribute to the growing research on unprestigious feelings with a specific focus on the Victorian age. As opposed to the cathartic effects triggered by pity and fear, for example, antipathetic sentiments are less likely to lead to purifying release, and feature in texts that ‘foreground[] a failure of emotional release ([… a] form of suspended “action”)’ (Ngai 2005, 9). Sianne Ngai in Ugly Feelings explores the political potential of such ‘ugly,’ non-cathartic and repressed emotions, while Zachary Samalin has recently focused specifically on Victorian cultures and the political aesthetics of disgust (Samalin 2021). Audre Jaffe has argued that affective cues and responses of distress, disgust, and shame shape representations of and reader responses to class identity (Jaffe 2017). Relatedly, we might ask in how far the ‘representation of class as affect’ (Jaffe 2017, 731) is a representation of class as antipathy. Arguably, the aesthetic ideals of realism and naturalism lend themselves to eliciting readers’ antipathies to discourage immoral behaviour and foster a sense of group (often middle-class) identity – aims that also inspire Victorian hopes for sympathy and its ethical effects.


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