CFP: Dickens Day 2016: Heritage, Celebrations and Anniversaries

Saturday 8th October 2016

Dickens’s Days: Heritage, Celebrations and Anniversaries

Dickens Day turns 30 in 2016, so, in a mood both retrospective and celebratory, we will be thinking about time, memory, narrative and biography in Dickens’s work, the multiple, complex and sometimes contradictory ways he narrates, commemorates and celebrates time’s passing, and the different ways in which Dickens, in his turn, has been commemorated and celebrated. Dickens’s novels are famous for their depictions of what he regarded as the universal milestones of life – birth, courtship, marriage, childrearing, death – but his novels also teem with alternative life stories and unconventional modes of living and relating. Dickens was famously convivial – anniversaries, celebrations and parties and of all kinds can be found in his work – but his fiction also abounds with a melancholy sense of life’s impermanence, heavily inflected by his Christian belief in a consolatory salvation. Furthermore, Dickens often uses humour and satire to mock solemnity, deflate pretention and undermine formal and informal celebrations and milestones – witness Pip’s miserable Christmas in Great Expectations or the dreadful parties thrown by the Podsnaps in Our Mutual Friend. Autobiography and biography are also famously prominent in Dickens’s fiction and non-fiction and he continually reworked and reimagined his own life story via his writing. Dickens was also fascinated by the transformative moments or decisions on which a life might turn, observing in Great Expectations, the ‘long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation on the first link on one memorable day.’ Relatedly, his work abounds with humorous, surreal and mournful counter-factuals that consider how a life might have otherwise turned out.

How is the passing of time observed in Dickens’s work? Is there a distinctively ‘Dickensian’ understanding of time? How does Dickens both proffer and undermine normative life narratives? What is the function of the celebratory moment in Dickens? How did Dickens use biography and autobiography to refract his own life story and life choices? How did Dickens understand memory, both scientifically and aesthetically? How do we celebrate and commemorate Dickens now? These are just a few of the questions we hope to consider on the day.

We warmly invite proposals for 20-minute papers from scholars of all backgrounds and career stages. We are always keen to feature new work from postgrads, postdocs, early career teachers and researchers, and those working outside the academy.

Themes include, but are not restricted to:

  • Birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, commemorations.
  • Parties, revels, convivial moments.
  • Life narratives, (hetero)normativity and alternates modes of living and relating.
  • Biography and autobiography.
  • Time, remembrance, memory.
  • Life-changing moments and counter-factuals.
  • Dickens’s Day at 30: the history and impact of the event.
  • Dickens at 30: considering Dickens’s life and career in 1842.
  • The Shakespeare tercentenary in 1864 and Dickens’s attitudes to literary commemoration.
  • Commemorating Dickens in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  • Dickensian museology
  • Heritage and ‘the Dickens industry’.

Please send proposals (maximum 500 words) to Bethan Carney, Holly Furneaux and Ben Winyard at bethan[dot]carney[at]gmail[dot]com,furneauxh[at]cardiff[dot]ac[dot]uk and benwinyard[at]hotmail[dot]com.

The deadline for paper proposals is 31st May 2016.

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