Transitions: Bridging the Victorian-Modernist Divide

Transitions: Bridging the Victorian-Modernist Divide

‘QUOTES’– Yeats / Wilde?

We are excited to announce the Call for Papers for Transitions: Bridging the Victorian-Modernist Divide. The conference is set to be held on xth and xth of April 2018 at the University of Birmingham. Transitions is an international, interdisciplinary conference seeking to open a dialogue between Victorianist and Modernist scholars. The conference will interrogate the historical, theoretical and thematic divides that have evolved from the artificial critical boundary set at the turn of the century. Panelists are invited to reconsider and discuss the aesthetic, social, political, technological, artistic, scientific, cultural and textual relationship between the Victorian and Modernist periods in a global setting.

We are delighted to announce that our Keynote speakers will be Sxxxx Pxxxx (University of Liverpool) and Axxxx Mxxxxx (University College Dublin). Sxxxxx is the author of xxx and Anne is xxxx.

The early twentieth century saw radical changes in legislature, politics and lifestyle for queer people. More than ever, LGBTQ+ citizens faced penal repercussions for their behaviour, as well as public scrutiny. In 1895, literature collided with the judicial system as the trial of Oscar Wilde scandalised the press, succeeded by obscenity cases against the likes of Radclyffe Hall and censorship of artists such as Federico García Lorca. At the same time, queerness became a political issue. At the same time, queerness became a political issue. After the outbreak of war in 1914, there were global concerns that homosexuality was a disease, spreading through the dug-outs like tuberculosis. Throughout the 1900s, governments codified and legislated sex work, same-sex relations, queer bodies and women’s reproductive rights.

In the same period however, LGBTQ+ citizens were establishing sites of resistance against social norms and state intervention. The Hirschfeld Institute was set up as a means of studying non-normative sexual behaviour and gender identity, pushing for the German government to legalise same-sex acts between men. Around the corner boy-bars flourished in Berlin, notoriously outrageous and cherished by figures of the silver screen. In Paris, Gertrude Stein and Natalie Clifford Barney set up influential salons, whilst The Rocky Twins made their debut performance as The Dolly Sisters. In the USA, Gladys Bentley crooned about women, while the infamous ball scene began to lay its roots.  Theoretically, queer identity rippled through both the arts and science. Myriad new terminology appeared, ‘cures’ for inversion came to light, Havelock Ellis published his theories of sexuality and Freud played analyst to many queer modernists. Writers and artists from Larsen to Forster to McKay to Bryher to Thurman to Tatsumi to Isherwood to Baker explored queer themes implicitly and explicitly within their work, many of which remain radical today.

Nevertheless, sexuality and modernity are not neatly packaged. Queerness is explored, troubled, empowered, frustrated, and intrumentalised by illness, class, nationality, race, work, disability, citzenship, gender, technology, language, age, religion and countless other forms of identity. One need only look to Bloomsbury, Cairo, Harlem, the Left Bank or Tokyo to be confronted by innumerable examples of these. Queer Modernism(s) seeks to unpackage such identities through panel discussion, roundtables and seminars.

The conference invites discussion of the relationship between the Victorian and Modernist periods (loosely bracketed as 1840 – 1945). Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Transhistorical Readings
  • Little Magazines
  • The Fin de Siecle
  • Religions and Spirituality
  • Visual Arts: Dance, Cinema, Photography
  • Symbolism
  • Scientific Developments
  • The Avant-Garde
  • Travel Narratives
  • Pre-Raphelitism
  • Urbanisation and the Metropolis
  • Feminities / Masculinities
  • Technological Innovation
  • The Arts and Craft Movement
  • Degeneration
  • Psychology and Sexology
  • Print Culture
  • Mythology and Folklore
  • Ecologies
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Genre
  • Narratives of Rupture and Continuation
  • The Formation of Identities
  • Canonisation
  • Colonialism and Empire
  • Translation Studies
  • Popular Culture and the Middlebrow