This interdisciplinary seminar meets three or four times a semester to hear and discuss work in progress on topics in Victorian literature, history, art, science, and popular culture.  Both local and visiting speakers are featured.  Papers are not pre-circulated, and everyone is welcome to attend. Contact us if you would like to be added to the Victorian Literature and Culture email list.

Upcoming Events

Numbers in the Novel: A Roundtable
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 5:00pm
Room 133, Barker Center


James English, University of Pennsylvania
Martin Amis, The Information

David Kurnick, Rutgers University
Jane Austen, Persuasion

Yoon Sun Lee, Wellesley College
Walter Scott, Waverley

Gage McWeeny, Williams College
George Eliot, Middlemarch

Mingwei Song, Wellesley College
Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem, trans. Ken Liu

Our speakers were given the following prompt:

Some of the standard twentieth-century accounts of the novel sometimes appear to assume that the form is incapable of counting further than one (the individualized protagonist viewed against the backdrop of the undifferentiated, un-enumerated crowd) or two (the romantic couple of the marriage plot)--but are other measures and metrics also part of the novel’s formal repertory and history? Did these standard accounts underestimate, for instance, the form’s involvement with modern sciences of the social and of the state (statistics) and these sciences’ defining concerns with groups and populations? How does the novel itself deploy quantification? How much data is in the novel? And what kind? How, for instance, has the novel interacted with the census and the other forms of big data that have evolved alongside it? What forms of personhood do novels that trade in numbers posit? How do numbers reframe concepts such as probability, chance, or calculation in the novel? How has an engagement with large numbers and data sets underpinned the form’s claims to be proffering objective representations? And finally . . . what is the appropriate scale of analysis that scholars should adopt to answer such questions? Are there ways, in fact, in which might we use the history and the form of the novel to challenge the disciplinary division that is often thought to separate those scholars who count (numerate students of STEM subjects, for example) from those who don’t (e.g. innumerate students of the humanities)?

Co-sponsored by the Novel Theory seminar.

Past Events 2016 - 17

Aviva Briefel, Bowdoin College
"Freaks of Furniture": The Useless Energy of Haunted Things
Benjamin Morgan, University of Chicago
Fin du Globe: On Decadent Planets
New Work in Victorian Studies
Jeremy Melius, Tufts University
Vivisection and the Visual Arts
Arianne Chernock, Boston University
The Right to Rule and the Rights of Women in Victorian Britain

Past Events 2015 - 16

Marah Gubar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sending Up the Cult of the Child
Aeron Hunt, Boston College
Military Relics: Thomas Hardy’s Soldiers and Sailors at Home
New Work in Victorian Studies
James Najarian, Boston College
Matthew Arnold and the Rivalries of Central Asia
Elaine Auyoung, University of Minnesota
Reading for the World

Past Events 2014 - 15

James Buzard, MIT
"He Can't Bear His Name": David Copperfield and the Thresholds of Modernity
William Cohen, University of Maryland, College Park
Why Is There So Much French in Villette?
Graduate Student Panel
Debra Gettelman, College of the Holy Cross
Imagining “Otherwise": Middlemarch’s Counterfictions
Lauren Goodlad, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Victorian Studies and the Longue Durée

Past Events 2013 - 14

Ellen Ross, Ramapo College
The Sisters of the People and Interwar London
Simon During, University of Brisbane
Kafka's Middlemarch
Rebecca Thorndike-Breeze, Northeastern University
Matthew Heitzman, Boston College
Marg Carkeet, Brandeis University
Graduate Student Panel
Rachel Ablow, SUNY Buffalo
Wounded Trees, Abandoned Boots: Thomas Hardy and the Homelessness of Pain
Anna Henchman, Boston University
Visualizing the Novel: Astronomy and Narrative Universes
Amy King, St. John's University
Seeing the Divine in the Commonplace: Seashore Natural History and Eliot’s Early Realism

Past Events 2012 - 13

Frances Ferguson
"Mill on Bentham and Coleridge (Again)"
Maia McAleavey, Boston College

"The Improper End: Aurora Floyd and Jude the Obscure"

Judith Pascoe
"Wuthering Heights, Japanese Style"
Graduate Student Panel
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"A Touch of Class?: Hybridization, Breed, and Species in the Nineteenth Century"
Alison Byerly, Middlebury College
"Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism"
Rae Greiner
"Stupid Thackeray, or, Barry Lyndon"
David Kurnick
"Character in the Commons: The Case of George Eliot"

Past Events 2011 - 12

Karen Bourrier, Boston University
"Orthopaedic Deformity in the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Disability in *Madame Bovary*, *The Mill on the Floss*, and *Sir Richard Calmady*"
Graduate Student Panel: New Work in Victorian Studies
Yopie Prins, University of Michigan
“Metrical Discipline: Swinburne on The Flogging Block
Judith Plotz, The George Washington University
"Invisible Playmates: or Girl Ghosts and Adult Comfort in Ghost Stories by Burnett, Canton, and Kipling"
Matthew Rubery
“Canned Literature: The Book after Edison’s Phonograph”
Ivan Kreilkamp, Indiana University
"'Rare Forms:' Existlessness, Extinction, and Nonhuman Life in Hardy’s Lyrics"

Past Events 2010 - 11

Nicholas Daly, University College Dublin
"Bill Stickers Beware: The Frenzy of the Legible in the Victorian City"
Graduate Student Panel
Elaine Hadley, University of Chicago
"Partial War and Liberal Partiality in the Victorian Public Sphere"
Mary Wilson Carpenter, Queen's University
"Reviewing the Clinical Gaze: A Victorian Hospital Patient's Narrative"
Seth Koven, Rutgers University
"The Global Traffic in Matches and Match Girls"
Talia Schaffer, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
"Reorienting Victorian Families"