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All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee:

—Robert Browning 

CFP: NVSA 2013


Boston University: April 5-7, 2013

NVSA solicits submissions for its annual conference. The topic this year is 1874.


The conference will feature a keynote panel including Isobel Armstrong, Robert J. Richards, and Herbert Tucker, and a walking tour of Victorian Boston led by Martha Vicinus.

* * *

The Northeast Victorian Studies Association calls for papers from all disciplines on any aspect of 1874, the year in which The Way We Live Now was serialized in monthly numbers, John Tyndall delivered his “Belfast Address” on scientific materialism, Benjamin Disraeli was appointed prime minister for the second time, and red became the standard color for pillarboxes of the Royal Mail. We welcome submissions on any topic relevant to 1874, as well as papers that engage with the conceptual and methodological issues raised by taking a single year as a focus for study.


What are the consequences of thinking about Victorian works of art, texts, objects, and events in relation to their specific year in history? How is our perspective on the period—or on periodization itself—altered by this vantage point? What does the close examination of a single year—a year literally picked out of a hat by the program committee rather than chosen for its significance—reveal about the relationship between dates that “matter” in Victorian Studies and dates that do not? Is the calendar year a significant unit of time or useful organizational framework for our exploration of the Victorian period as a whole? How is our understanding of annual publications, commemorations, and other yearly events and forms changed when we concentrate on a single occurrence of each? In 1874 S. O. Beeton’s Christmas annual Jon Duan sold 250,000 copies in three weeks, vastly outperforming Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Which, then, is the “major” text under the rubric of our conference? How does our sense of the canonical and non-canonical shift as a result of such micro-periodization?

Other texts and events from 1874 worth considering:


M. E. Braddon’s Lost for Love

William Benjamin Carpenter’s Principles of Mental Physiology

Wilkie Collins’s The Frozen Deep and Other Stories published; The Law and the Lady serialized

John William Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science

Amelia Edwards’s A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest

George Eliot’s The Legend of Jubal, Arion, and A Minor Prophet; first one-volume edition of Middlemarch

F. W. Farrar’s Life of Christ

John Forster’s Life of Charles Dickens, final volume

Francis Galton’s English Men of Science

W. S. Gilbert’s Charity

John Richard Green’s Short History of the English People

Thomas Huxley’s “On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata”

G. H. Lewes’s Problems of Life and Mind, Vol. 1

Henry Maudsley’s Responsibility in Mental Disease

George Meredith’s Beauchamp’s Career serialized

Margaret Oliphant’s A Rose in June and For Love and Life

John Ruskin’s Fors Clavigera: Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain, Vol. 4

Henry Sidgwick’s Methods of Ethics

James Sully’s Sensation and Intuition

Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Bothwell: A Tragedy

James Thomson’s The City of Dreadful Night

Anthony Trollope’s Lady Anna and Phineas Redux published

Alfred Russell Wallace’s “A Defence of Modern Spiritualism”

Mrs. Henry Wood’s Johnny Ludlow


London School of Medicine for Women founded

Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge founded

Fiji Islands annexed by Britain

Ghana established as a British colony

Shipton-on-Cherwell train crash (and other notable train crashes)

David Livingstone’s body returned to England

Victoria Embankment opened

Astley Deep Pit disaster

Public Worship Regulation Act

Factory Act of 1874

1874 Transit of Venus

Wilkie Collins’s readings in America

Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease founded

First Impressionist exhibition, Paris

           *     *     *

Proposals (no more than 500 words) by Oct. 15, 2012 (e-mail submissions only, in Word format):

Professor Tyson Stolte, Chair, NVSA Program Committee ([email protected]).

Please note: all submissions to NVSA are evaluated anonymously. Successful proposals will stay within the 500-word limit and make a compelling case for the talk and its relation to the conference topic.

Please do not send complete papers, and do not include your name on the proposal.

Please include your name, institutional and email addresses, and proposal title in a cover letter. Papers should take 15 minutes (20 minutes maximum) so as to provide ample time for discussion.

For information about NVSA membership and travel grants, please visit the NVSA website at


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