One might begin by querying the questions of categorization and definition suggested by our key terms. What did the Victorians mean by terms such as primitive, folk, indigenous? We encourage you to cross disciplinary boundaries in your explorations. How, for example, do anthropologic, ethnic, and geographic categories apply to non-verbal artifacts such as music, art, architecture, and dance? Can you illuminate some links to the conservation movement, where colonial landscape influences styles of British gardens and buildings spatially and are then in turn reflected in literary point of view and sense of place? And how was the British industrial landscape exported, say, to India? We'd also like to hear about the creation of new kinds of museums of anthropology, natural history, folk art, etc.
The geography of Britain interests us as a way to refocus post-colonial studies back on England itself. We're interested in issues of metropolitan life, England's heterogeneity and multiculturalism, and the invention of traditions of nationalism. For example, how were theories of climate related to questions of moral development, or of theories of creation? And what did Victorian school children learn about our three areas? How do children's and adults' parlor and field games reflect the influence of foreign lands? Golf and polo come to mind, as well as geographic board games.
Why do we think of things Victorian as primarily British, when so much of Victorian culture can be seen as cannibalizing others? Think of the Crystal Palace, and ways in which anthropologies of the body--the rage for Indian shawls, Japonaiserie, Chinoiserie--suggest commodification of the Other. And, speaking of eating, to what extent did Victorians eat ethnic? Why was curry so popular ? When did Mrs. Beeton introduce her recipes? In other words, how do movements out of England influence movements within?
Physical anthropology arose as a distinct field in the nineteenth century, as people became interested in the natural history of race, the place of humans in Nature, and the search for origins. This led to heated discussions of such topics as the mixing of races, the construction of whiteness, phrenology, systems of criminal detection and sexology. One could also examine the political, legal, social, and medical ramifications of our three focii. For example, how did census procedures change to reflect new definitions of identity and new policies for controlling populations? How did England get divided up into boroughs, and what were the effects on social change? One might want to consider questions of identity in general, ways in which defining others defines oneself. Did the Victorians think in terms of ethnicity and race, and how did they define these controversial terms? Were the Irish, the Welsh, Jews, and gypsies (for example) considered distinct races, and how were these categories refined, overlapped, and mapped onto each other?
Questions of authenticity and degeneration inevitably arise here. One might well fuse our categories by conceptualizing the importance of purities and of blood lines. Are they defined by genealogy or geography? Considerations of all these questions that also emphasize how this new thinking is reflected in literary texts will be especially welcome. Thus we come full circle, back to questions of categories and definitions. Happy hunting!
If you would like to be a presenter, please send a note to Patricia Saunders-Evans (address above) with a brief description of the questions you would like to raise. Being a presenter means that you are expected to help create an atmosphere where stimulating discussion takes place, rather than to present a paper. You will receive a letter inviting you to participate in the roundtable, and, depending on how many respond, you will be listed in the program. People submitting paper proposals may also participate in the roundtable, but will not be named a second time on the program.
The Coral Lansbury Travel Grant ($100.00), given in memory of a founding member of NVSA, is awarded annually to the graduate student, adjunct instructor, or independent scholar who must travel the greatest distance to give a paper at our conference. Apply by indicating in the cover letter to your proposal that you wish to be considered; mention, also, if you have other sources of funding.
Sub NVSA-L [your first name] [your last name]
I wish to renew my dues or become a member of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association. I have enclosed a check to NVSA for _____$15 in U.S. dollars (regular membership) or ____$10 (student).
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