CFP: Beyond the Victorian and Modernist Divide

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Beyond the Victorian and Modernist Divide

International Conference

March, 27-28 2014, Rouen University

Organisation: Anne Besnault-Levita and Anne-Florence Gillard Estrada

Keynote speakers:
Professor Michael Bentley, University of St. Andrews
Professor Melba Cuddy-Keane, University of Toronto

Ezra Pound’s injunction to “make it new!” or Virginia Woolf’s “on or about 1910” statement have long been used in order no support a version of modernism as a strictly aesthetic revolution — or crisis — implying an essential break with Victorian art, culture and ideology. In the last decade, however, the crucial transition between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been variously reassessed. In the wake of the new modernist studies and of the recent revaluations of the Victorian period, a growing body of scholarship now challenges traditional periodisation by examining the existence of overlaps and unexplored continuities between the Victorians, the post-Victorians and the modernists. Once separated by a critical and cultural break, Victorian and modernist scholars have become preoccupied with a similar search for cultural and aesthetic complexities that make it possible to move beyond doxic discourses and fixed dichotomies: the past and the present, outer life and inner life, materiality and spirituality, tradition and innovation, ideology and aesthetics.

This international conference would like those scholars to join forces and contribute to this new phase in the Victorian-modern debate from a broad range of perspectives across the disciplines: literature, criticism, the visual arts, history, science and philosophy. The emergence or re-emergence of ideas such as the “modern”, the “new” or “change” at the turn of the century is an indisputable fact that we want to acknowledge and re-contextualize by examining the different meanings and practices they encompass. From there, we wish to explore the birth and perpetration of two critical meta-narratives and their interdependence: the myth of “high modernism” and the myth of “Victorianism”. If there is no clear repudiation of history and heritage on the modernists’ part, if “rupture” was a useful fiction, if the challenge to traditional aesthetics and ideology was already a Victorian preoccupation, then we definitely need to remap modernism and Victorianism simultaneously.

The papers that we call for are meant to contribute to a trans-disciplinary publication whose synopsis could be the following, although it is far from being fixed.

I- Periods, words, labels: historicizing and contextualizing the idea of the “break”

II- Victorian, Edwardian and modernist literature: unexplored lines of filiation

III- Art history, aesthetic philosophy and the visual arts across the Victorian/Modernist divide

IV- Science, philosophy, ideology: landmarks for a new history of ideas

V- New approaches to identity, gender and the self: from mid-Victorians to modernist ideologies and practices.

The proposals (300 to 500 words with a short bio-bibliographical notice) should be sent to Anne Besnault-Levita (annelev@club-internet.fr) and Anne-Florence Gillard-Estrada (af.gillardestrada@orange.fr) by September 15th 2013. Notification of acceptance: October 15th 2013. The conference will take place on March, 27-28 2014 at Rouen University.

For more information see the conference website.

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