CFP: The 20th Anniversary BWWC ~ “Landmarks”
June 7-10, 2012
In 2012, the Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers Conference (BWWC) will commemorate its 20th anniversary by focusing on the theme of “Landmarks.” Rich in both physical and metaphorical significance, landmarks form loci by which we organize history and chart the development of individuals, nations, and cultures. We therefore invite papers that explore how women writers and their texts engage with an ever-changing geography that is both material and abstract. These conference papers could address the people, places, events, and texts that have made their marks on history, and/or the processes and implications of marking, mapping, reading, preserving, overwriting, or erasing. Likewise, we wish to investigate land as space and place, acts and effects of landing or arriving, marks of land upon people and cultures, geographical and imaginative landscapes, liminal no-(wo)man’s-lands, and the state of being landed (or not) with property.
Many thanks to all who submitted proposals. The call for papers for both the general pool and for special sessions is now closed. We look forward to hearing the selected presentations at our June conference.
* * *
Possible topics include:
- Landmark Events and Ideas: Historical moments; defining milestones; turning points; crises or victories; anniversaries; stages; experiments; memories or visions; aesthetic debates; scientific discoveries; technologies
- Landmark Works: Publication and reception; authorship or readership; emerging genres; histories or chronicles; canon formation; travel writing
- Geographical Land Marks: Historical or tourist sites; borders and national boundaries; high points and burials; property and ownership; memorials, monuments, museums; ruins and traces
- Making Marks: Print culture; media; diaries and personal writings; glosses, annotations, and marginalia; building, development, or enclosure; landscaping and gardening; architecture; fashion and costume design; cosmetics and tattoos; creating space and place; epitaphs, cemeteries, tombs
- Reading, Interpreting, or Imagining Lands/Marks: Physiognomy or phrenology; psychics; reading practices; sciences of navigation; distance and time; fictional worlds
- Mapping/Preserving Marks: Maps and cartography; emblems; classification systems; libraries, museums, collections
- Marks of Land on People: Farming and agriculture; gentility and nobility; industry; food and foodways; defining the local, national, imperial, native, or foreign
- Contested Marks and Marks of Difference: Stealing/transplanting landmarks; marks of faith or creed; religious practices; the supernatural; commerce, currency, credit; ownership; identity politics or marginalization
Landmarks in Nineteenth-Century Natural History: Texts and Landscapes; Panel Chair: Lauren Cameron, email@example.com
Over the course of the nineteenth century, a number of landmark works of natural history—which constitute what we might now call biological and geological sciences—dramatically altered how British society viewed the natural world. Natural “monuments” (as Georges Cuvier put it), such as geological strata or fossils, were increasingly interpreted as signifying marks on the face of the landscape that needed to be interpreted and understood. How did women writers engage with these frequently changing natural and textual landmarks? What implications do such landmarks hold for individuals’ and societies’ notions of self and of history, relationships to each other and to nature, and production of artistic and of scientific works? Charles Darwin’s writings have often been considered by literary scholars interested in how women writers reflected, negotiated, and participated in nineteenth-century scientific discourse, and papers exploring Darwin in light of the theme of this panel are welcome, though those focusing on other landmark Romantic or Victorian natural histories are encouraged.
Panel Chair: Anna Dodson Saikin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent cognitive approaches to literary studies encourage us to think about the role of the imagination and the mind as they relate to historical developments and to consider how recent theories of mind can be used to read and interpret literary texts. John Locke in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) theorized that the mind is a blank slate, or tabula rasa, that gathers marks through experience and education. Following Locke’s philosophical investigation, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers liken knowledge production to impressions made on the mind. The word “impression” in this context can be defined as not only an image produced in the mind or emotions but also the physical act of printing the text. This panel solicits papers examining the role of mental marks in poetry and prose written by women. What form do these mental marks take in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, and how are they used to express thought and knowledge production? This panel invites papers that investigate the role of the mind and body in the production of knowledge with all its philosophical, linguistic, and psychological implications.
George Eliot’s Middlemarch
Panel Chair: Katherine Voyles, email@example.com
In response to the conference topic on “Landmarks,” I propose a special session panel on George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Not only is Eliot a landmark woman writer who wrote an important landmark in the history of the novel, her novel itself engages issue of landmarks in a wide variety of ways. The novel engages the high culture, Classical landmarks of Greece and Rome through the comparisons of Dorothea to a new Antigone, as well as through her honeymoon trip to Rome. But these well-known figures and sites of human history achievement are implicitly contrasted to achievements, people and epochs that are not likely to be memorialized. Perhaps no image from the novel better captures this than the ripples or the figure of concentric circles implied by the “incalculably diffusive” good that characterizes Dorothea’s achievements. Her most famous novel and Eliot’s work more generally have also anchored or occasioned landmark critical essays, methods or observations. As such, I aim to construct a panel that is oriented around the single text, but that dramatizes and is alive to the multitude of ways that Middlemarch and writers about that novel engage in or embody issues of landmarks.
Landmark Pedagogies in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Women’s Literature
Panel Chair: Hilary Fezzey, firstname.lastname@example.org
This special session seeks papers that address the landmark nature of this historical moment in teaching eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British women’s literature. The importance of teaching non-canonical British women writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has begun to be explored by notable scholars in works such as the seminal Approaches to Teaching British Women Poets of the Romantic Period, edited by Stephen C. Behrendt and Harriet Kramer Linkin, and supported by textbooks, such as those edited by Ann K. Mellor, Richard E. Matlak, Susan Wolfson, and Peter Manning, as well as publications in the “Pedagogies” section of Romantic Circles. However, there is a rich body of work from the emerging field of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) that has not been considered in conjunction with this revisionist work. This session aims to bridge the fields of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British women’s literature and SOTL. Scholars, such as Nancy L. Chick and Sherry Lee Linkon, have shown the value of making our work as literary critics visible to our students. Thus, this panel seeks essays that address ways of helping students navigate the literary landscape of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Great Britain that is populated with previously underrepresented Romantic women writers.
Women Finding Their Places
Panel Chair: Laura L. Runge, email@example.com
As Ruth Perry demonstrates so clearly in Novel Relations (2004), the daughter in the patriarchal family becomes increasingly dispossessed throughout the eighteenth century, a displacement that most adult women rectify – happily or otherwise – through marriage. Consequently, marriage serves as the landmark event in a woman’s life, a point from which she ostensibly becomes rooted and matures. Women’s writing, however, reveals that young women rarely reach this steady landmark without conflict. Women writers frequently broach the topic of a woman’s displacement in the family and represent the young woman’s struggles to find a satisfactory way of being in a place outside her father’s home. This panel analyzes three women authors – Montagu, Haywood and Austen – who explore how the female finds her place: in travel, in courtship, and in new community. The panel moves from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s depiction of Constantinople in 1717 to Eliza Haywood’s performance of place in Betsy Thoughtless (1751), to Jane Austen’s reintegration of Anne Elliot into the naval family in Bath (1818). All examine the ways in which female experience involves a crisis of displacement in the patriarchal family but also creative ways to locate herself in a new place.