CFP: Anxious Forms: Bodies in Crisis in Victorian Literature and Culture (University of Glasgow)

22nd August 2014 – The University of Glasgow

Anxious Forms is a one-day interdisciplinary conference which seeks to engage with the Victorian era as a period of anxiety manifested in physical form, be it the human body, national, ideological, and scientific bodies, or literary and artistic forms. Recent criticism of the long nineteenth century has viewed the period as one of crisis: a collection of critical moments which are framed as decisive, paradigmatic shifts. Criticism frequently considers the physical manifestations of anxieties surrounding industrial progress, imperial expansion, and scientific and medical advancements, as well as shifting concepts of gender, religion, race, class, and sexuality.

However, some scholars have started to question the basis of such a reading, asking to what extent this is a contemporary application of the concept of ‘anxiety’. This conference intends to open up this debate and stimulate discussion across disciplines.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr Nicholas Daly (University College Dublin)
  • Dr Christine Ferguson (University of Glasgow)
  • Dr Megan Coyer (University of Glasgow)

Through this conference we wish to highlight the University of Glasgow as a major centre for multidisciplinary Victorian research and intend this to be the first annual nineteenth-century conference hosted by the University, with an accompanying published collection of papers.

Topics for papers might include, but are not limited to:

  • Bodies of publication
  • Narrative forms
  • Identity crises
  • Objectified, pornographic or voyeuristic bodies
  • Spiritual, supernatural, and spectral bodies
  • Bodies of commodification and consumption
  • Bodies politic, national and foreign bodies
  • Environmental, geological and archeological bodies
  • Medicine and the medical humanities
  • Biological, mechanical, and prosthetic bodies
  • Forms of cartography and travel writing
  • Art, illustration, film and photography
  • Collected and classified bodies
  • Neo-Victorianism
  • Bodies of knowledge

We welcome proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers, as well as from more established academics. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words for 20-minute conference papers, together with an academic CV, by 15th May 2014. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of the following week.

The conference is free to attend for both speakers and non-speakers; please contact us (Abigail Boucher and Alexandra Foulds at to register.

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