North American Victorian Studies Association Conference 2014
Conference Theme: Victorian Classes and Classifications
November 13-15, 2014 London, Ontario, Canada
Our conference theme this year is “Victorian Classes & Classifications.” Our keynote speakers will be Gillian Beer (King Edward VII Professor of English Literature Emeritus, Cambridge), and Tim Barringer (Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art, Yale). Other notable events include six seminar panels led by distinguished scholars on topics related to the conference theme, one of which will be co-hosted by the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, and six network lunches, each organized around issues related to the professionalization of graduate students.
We will also host a roundtable discussion featuring the winner of this year’s NAVSA Book Prize. The conference will conclude with a banquet on Saturday, November 15, at which the Donald Gray Prize for the best scholarly article in Victorian Studies published in an academic journal will be presented. The banquet will be held in the Great Hall at Western University.
Victorian Britain belonged to the classifying age. Imperial expansion and new techniques of observation and production confronted Britons with an expanding universe of natural and man-made phenomena. In response, scientists, writers, artists, and educators sought to articulate some underlying sense of order through ever more complex systems of organization, arrangement, and tabulation. Natural philosophers vastly extended and revised the taxonomies of Linnaeus. Medical professionals developed new diagnostic tools and coined a broad range of new pathologies and diseases. Criminologists gathered biometric data that allowed them to constitute and apprehend criminal types. Literary critics debated the rise of new classes of literature, from the penny dreadful and sensation fiction to the naturalist novel. Librarians set out the protocols for indexing the classes and sub-classes of literature that resulted from the vast outpouring of printed matter. Teachers began to organize their classrooms into distinct groupings of students by age and ability. But with these efforts came, too, a new concern and fascination for that which exceeded classification, the anomalous, the mutation, the hybrid, the monstrous, and class struggle emerged as a theory of history and as a basis for political organization.