CFP: Materialising Modern Identities

British Medical Association Building, 1908 (with sculptures by Jacob Epstein)

British Medical Association Building, 1908 (with sculptures by Jacob Epstein)

Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following CFP:

Materialising Modern Identities: Architectural sculpture after 1750
AAH2015: 41st Annual Conference & Bookfair
SA, UEA, Norwich
9 – 11 April 2015
Paper proposals, to be sent to the session convenor in accordance with proposal guidelines. Paper proposal deadline: 10 November 2014

Session Convenors:

Katie Faulkner, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 
Ayla Lepine, University of Essex, 

In recent years, sculpture studies within art and architectural history have grown exponentially, increasingly taking diverse themes into account including materiality, gender, postcolonialism and affect. In the rapid transformations of state power and imperial activity in the 18th century, through into the post-revolutionary political atmosphere of the 19th century, nations appeared to sponsor the celebration of the public citizen and actively projected imperial stability in the midst of change and resistance. Despite its association with permanence, sculpture was charged with representing change: materialising new identities and formulating representational traditions. Continue reading

Review: Outlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy


Helena Gurfinkel, Outlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2014.

In Outlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy (2013) Helena Gurfinkel analyses the ways in which the literature preceding, during and postdating the Edwardian period presents father figures, sons, and parental-filial relationships that deviate from the traditional conception of oppression and submission which, she argues, typify our conventional understanding of patriarchy. While the conventional patriarch was an important figure within late-Victorian and Modern British literature and culture, Gurfinkel suggests, there nevertheless also existed what she terms the “unconventional” or “queer” patriarch.

As her title suggests, Gurfinkel understands the notion of a conventional patriarch as the law-giving father: the male, heterosexual head of the household who asserts his social, God-given dominance over his family and enforces devotion in women and children by establishing boundaries that they may not cross. She claims that this economically, socially and intellectually powerful paterfamilias is traditionally the figure identified by cultural, historical and literary criticisms of patriarchy. Continue reading

Essay: Bennett Amongst the Modernists


On October 17th-18th, the Edwardian Culture Network will host a symposium entitled ‘Arnold Bennett and his Circle’ (see our ‘events’ pages for more details). In the following short essay, Dr. Andrew Glazzard, one of the co-organizers, anticipates some of the issues we intend to cover in our discussions.

I’d like to try a thought experiment – a game of matching the novel with the writer. Take two novels, both written in 1922 – ‘the year of Modernism’. One is set in a city, but very little happens. This novel is narrated with ironic detachment, and dwells on the drab lives of ordinary people who fail to understand each other. The other is an adventure story, set on the French coast during the Napoleonic Wars. It is about a pirate, features buried treasure, includes a love story between a dashing soldier and a beautiful woman, and ends with an exciting chase featuring Horatio Nelson.

One of these novels was written by an early modernist – an innovator who remains a fixture on university syllabuses, and has been widely acknowledged for his technical achievements and for bringing a sceptical, disillusioned world-view to British fiction. The other writer became immensely popular in his lifetime, was regarded by his younger contemporaries as an exemplar of everything that was wrong about the Edwardian novel, and today in the world of academic Eng.Lit is almost completely disregarded. Which author do you think wrote which novel? Continue reading

CFP: M.R. James and the Modern Ghost Story

MR James

M. R. James and the Modern Ghost Story: a one-day conference hosted by the University of Leeds, to be held at The Leeds Library on 28 March 2015

Confirmed Keynotes: Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck College, University of London);  Darryl Jones (Trinity College, Dublin); Helen Grant (Author)

The conference will be followed by a public screening of ‘A Warning to the Curious’ (1972) and a Q & A session with writer/director, Lawrence Gordon Clark

The ghost stories of Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) are amongst the most influential in the English language. Never out of print, they have been adapted numerous times for stage, screen and other media and their formal and thematic features have come to embody the very model of the traditional English ghost story.

This one-day symposium is the first such event dedicated entirely to M.R. James’s ghost stories. The aim of this conference is to bring together researchers with an interest in James’s fiction in order to assess the significance of his ghost stories from a range of theoretical, literary and historical perspectives.

Although widely read and tremendously influential, James’s fiction has received little academic attention. The aim of this event is to foster further discussion and analysis of these tales and their place in late-Victorian and Edwardian literature and culture. Continue reading

On Arnold Bennett (6): Jolly Gargoyles


‘Now the danger that dogs Mr. Bennett’s more sober achievements, built up with such Euclidean logic, tracing causes with such exquisite clarity, is that they may fail to convey the sense of the fantastic element in life, the untamed force that pounds through the fabric so incalculably, dishevelling and exalting the neat systems. Two and two make five in real life; in Clayhanger perhaps they too often add neatly up to four. It is this Gothic element in things that makes such a jolly gargoyle as The Grand Babylon Hotel a more faithful symbol of reality than some such sterner stuff; and it is this heightened irrational strain that one wants to see swaggering through the cool symmetry of Clayhanger like 0rgan-music throbbing through a church’ (Dixon Scott, review of The Card in The Manchester Guardian, 23rd February 23rd, 1911)

For more information on our upc0ming symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’), see here (or e-mail us at for a draft programme of the day’s events).

On Arnold Bennett (5): Greatness beyond Glamour

'Man Reading' by Barnett Freedman (c.1925)

‘Man Reading’ by Barnett Freedman (c.1925)

‘The hero, Clayhanger, is merely a nice young fellow who likes to read and yearns for a more elegance and refinement than his home can offer him. Without great force or energy, he is industrious and honest; without overwhelming abilities, he has a taste for literature and art; without deep tenderness, he has kindly emotions and a fund of fairness and good-will [...] There is no glamour of romance thrown about the situation; there are no adventures. No attempt at all is made to rectify reality. But it is a very great novel, none the less; so great that it throws into the shadow all the novels of the last decade. Even [H.G. Well's] Tono-Bungay, full of meat and life as it was, seems slim and unpleasant in comparison.’ (Unsigned review of Clayhanger, North American Review, December 191o)

For more information on our upc0ming symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’), see here (or e-mail us at for a draft programme of the day’s events)

On Arnold Bennett (4): Go On, Great Man!


‘My dear Bennett,

You know what life is. I have really wanted badly to write you at length about The Old Wives Tale and make you understand that it isn’t simply just genial mutual flattery and so forth that I want to send you this time [...] I think the book a quite pre-eminent novel so that it at least doubles your size in my estimation. It is far too big, too fine and too restrained to get at first anything like the recognition it is bound in the long run to bring you. It is the best book I have seen this year – and there have been one or two very good books – and I am certain it will secure you the respect of all the distinguished critics who are now consuming gripe-water and suchlike, if you never never write another line. It is all at such a high level that one does not know where to begin commending, but I think the high light for me is the bakehouse glimpse of Sam Povey. But the knowledge, the details, the spirit! from first to last it never fails. I wish it could have gone into ‘The English Review’. Well, I go round telling everyone I meet about it – I wish Chapman & Hall would do the same. Go on great man!’

Yours ever. H. G. [Wells] (November 1908)

For more information on our upc0ming symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’), see here (or e-mail us at for a draft programme of the day’s events).