Does the White Queen accurately represent the way the Victorians conceptualize memory? What did they choose to remember about themselves, about others? And what do we remember about them?
The Northeast Victorian Studies Association invites Victorianists working in all disciplines to think, unlike Alice, both forward and backward when submitting paper proposals for its twenty-eighth annual conference, to be held at Yale University the weekend of April 16-18, l999. We encourage members to think creatively about themes of remembering and forgetting; of true and false memories; of genre, physiology, and the the politics of memory; and of failing memory and the fallacies of memory in the Victorian period. We are especially interested in papers that focus on literature in relation to other disciplines. We welcome considerations of neglected works, but prefer papers that synthesize, rather than ones that focus exclusively on a single work.
Our topic this year encourages self-reflexivity, as we remember and misremember the Victorians, and as Victorians themselves remember remembering the Victorians and those who preceded them. Queen Victoria's prodigious memory was, in one sense, the primary archive, and she presents us with an example of what some might call excessive memory in the history of grieving, mourning Prince Albert. As we study the archiving of memory, we might want to consider as themes and sources the history of information storage and retrieval by libraries, businesses, and government, as well as materialistic memories in the form of museums, monuments, memorials, memorabilia, and mortuaries. What technological memories exist in these Victorian memory machines? Looking at archival collections of all kinds, we welcome attempts to construct theories of Victorian epistemology.
Memory inevitably evokes forgetting: erasing, destroying, falsifying, inventing, even, recovering. Bleak House, Middlemarch, The Mayor of Casterbridge and other works testify to the popularity of problematizing memory in the period. Willful forgetting and anti-self-consciousness sometimes prove dangerous or debilitating, as Bulstrode, the self-made man, learns when he attempts literally to "forget himself." And genre questions are particularly relevant when they illuminate intersections of memory and literary form. What are the uses and abuses of memory in biographies, historical novels, diaries, journals, detective fictions, and records of various kinds (legal and otherwise)? How do they transform present events into memory? What mechanisms shape facts and historical truths into narrative, or into elegaic and lyrical poetry? What does memory contribute to theories of the imagination? What isn't memory? nd literary hagiography construct and distort memory? What does memory contribute to theories of the imagination? What isn't memory?
Did understanding the physiology of the body and its psychology provide hope for the purgation of undesirable memories for the Victorians? Here we might consider dreams, amnesia (critical, historical, personal), hypnotism, guilt, confession and other phenomena related to recovering memory. What of haunting memories and secrets that won't die (the Gothic comes to mind)? And what of the tensions between knowing and forgetting your self? Works such as In Memoriam, for example , shed light on the dialectic of memory and forgetting in recalling the dead. And remembering and re-remembering the body in its physical manifestations--from collecting relics to theorizing disease--expand upon the physiology of memory.
Collective and inherited memory ( domestic, racial, national, folkloric), provide another rich source of inquiry into our theme. In what sense is forgetting a political act? If you design the memory, don't you control what gets recalled, as the White Queen suggests? Did the Victorians believe in the existence, for example, of "race memories?" And, as for the Empire, what did the colonialists remember, and what did they wish to forget? What are the claims to empire through memory? What records did they and others leave of culture and of process? What did they want future generations to remember about their wars and conquests? What are the burdens of memory in England's long history? And, lastly, how did the Victorians deal with questions of the reliability of memory, and failing memories, or of remembering as failure? As we recall the Victorians, through what millenial needs of our own do we recover memories of them and their deeds, and which would we like to forget?
Paper proposals, a maximum of two double-spaced pages, should be sent by October l5, l998 to Professor Terri Hasseler, Dept. of English, Bryant College, Smithfield, Rhode Island 02917 (tel.(401) 232-6926; fax:(401) 232-6319; email: email@example.com). Please do not send complete papers or include your name on your proposal; we review proposals completely anonymously.
ROUNDTABLE : In an attempt to allow more participation in the program, we are continuing the popular roundtable discussions on pedagogy that we initiated two years ago. This year we'd like to focus discussion on teaching an interdisciplinary course that incorporates the theme of memory into a seminar on Victorian Studies. What ideas and materials would you propose, and how you would you teach the course?
If you would like to be a presenter, please send a note to Professor Paula Krebs, Department of English, Wheaton College, Norton, Mass.02766 (fax: (508) 286-8263; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) describing briefly (no more than one double-spaced page) the aspects of your pedagogy you'd like to share. Keep in mind that being a presenter means creating an atmosphere for stimulating discussion rather than presenting a paper.
The Coral Lansbury Travel Grant ($100.00) and the George Ford Travel Grant ($100.00) given in memory of key founding members of NVSA, are 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.
All who wish to join NVSA, and all members who have not yet paid their dues for the 1998-9 membership year should return the attached tear-off. And Dr. Hartley Spatt (24 Center Street, Woodmere, N.Y. 11598) urges all to send him a note subscribing to the Victorian Studies Bulletin ($5.00 a year).
Finally, as many of you know, our Vice-President for Information Services,
Glenn Everett, has established a NVSA list (NVSA-L) on email and a NVSA
Home Page on the Worldwide Web (http://fmc.utm.edu/nvsa/). The Web site
offers items of interest to NVSA members. NVSA-L is a place to summarize
and share conference activities and logistics, and to conduct NVSA business.
It's used mainly around conference time, so don't worry that it will clutter
up your mailboxes. To subscribe, send a message to ListProc@utm.EdU. Leave
the subject line blank; on the message line write SUB NVSA-L, your first
and last name.
|Professor Rhoda L.Flaxman
Department of English
Providence, R.I. 02912
To: Professor Joan Dagle, Sec'y/Treas. NVSA
Dept. of English, Rhode Island College
Providence, R.I. 02908
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).