Making It New: Victorian and Modernist Literature and Periodicals, 1875-1935
A one-day conference, De Montfort University, UK, 28 February 2015
When Thomas Hardy lamented to Virginia Woolf in 1926 that modernist authors had ‘changed everything now’ he reinforced the idea that modernism had wrought a cataclysmic division between itself and its Victorian predecessors. Woolf had specified December 1910 as the point when literature abandoned omniscience for the realism of interiority and the historical consequence has been a linear model where Victorian and modernist literatures are placed consecutively; as generally discrete entities. But Victorian literature was similarly inventive and experimental: the proto-modernism of Emily Brontë, the realism of George Eliot, the Zola-inspired Naturalists including George Moore who segued into Symbolism. Nor was Modernist literature always forward-looking: at the time G. K. Chesterton questioned the ‘originality’ of Futurism and John Middleton Murry argued that modernism was less about textual revolution and more about one’s ability ‘to train hard on a page of Ulysses every day;’ subsequently Tony Pinkney notes D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Victorian realism’ and James Eli Adams recognises a ‘host of continuities between Victorian and modernist literature’.
This conference aims to suture the ‘divide’ between ‘Victorian’ and ‘Modernist’ literature, to explore the ways in which they dovetailed and overlapped, shared ideals and textual practice. We seek papers exploring novels, poetry, periodicals, little modernist magazines and other textual ephemera. Papers might include, but are not limited to:
• the reconsideration/ reconfiguration of the terms ‘Victorian’ and ‘modernist’
• Victorian prose, poetry, and plays which develop and anticipate some of the key components of ‘modernist’ writing
• modernist texts that deliberately reuse and capitalise on themes and forms developed during the Victorian period
• the manifestation of Victorian sub-genres (e.g. Realism, Naturalism, the Sensation Novel) in a modernist context
• the ways in which modernist periodicals bear the hallmarks of Victorian periodicals and Victorian periodicals anticipate modernism
• authors whose output spans both periods e.g. Thomas Hardy, George Moore, W. B. Yeats, H. G. Wells
The organisers hope to begin a conversation in this conference that will result in the publication of a collection of essays. To this end, we have been in discussion with Ashgate and delegates may want to consider their conference paper proposal as the beginning of a longer work for publication.
Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted by 5 January 2015 to: