I post the following in my capacity as the facilitator and sometime despot of the physical-world manifestation of the Long 19th Century Group @ the Grad Center. One of the things we do during the school year is hold monthly discussions on recent books (generally by reading the intro and one chapter) and articles in our field. We define the field broadly and try to read with an eye toward interdisciplinarity. Our readings in the past have included chapters from Sharon Marcus’s Between Women, Mike Davis’s Late Victorian Holocausts, and Seth Koven’s Slumming.

For each discussion, a volunteer facilitator selects the text for discussion and makes it available to the rest of the group, either by leaving a copy for people to borrow and reproduce in the English department or (for online journals and other texts), circulating the link to the list serv. The discussions themselves are usually small and informal, beginning with some preliminary remarks by the facilitator and then going from there. Many of our most productive discussions have used the texts as a jumping-off point for examining our own methodologies and interests.

This semester, we plan to hold the discussion groups on either Mondays or Tuesdays, with the specific dates TBD (ideally, the “D” part will happen in the next week or so). We also need to choose texts and find facilitators, which is the central purpose of this thread. I’ll post below the links to descriptions of the texts that have already been suggested. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to use the comments to let us know which ones look interesting (or just hideous), to make alternative suggestions, possibly with inspiration from New Books in 19th Century British Studies, and to volunteer to lead discussions. (If you do want to lead a discussion, please let us know what days are good for you this semester.) We’re looking for about three readings for the fall, for meetings in September, October, and November. Our experience with December is that events requiring extra efforts of thought are not well-attended.

One final thing to consider: Mia has brought up the idea of expanding our reading from current work (last 5 years or so) in Victorian studies to classic texts as well–think Walter Houghton’s The Victorian Frame of Mind or Jerome Buckley’s The Victorian Temper–that may have been absent from our own formal training. What do the rest of you think? Should we devote one meeting a semester to older works? Discuss them on the blog? Ignore them altogether?

Onward to the current contenders. The links for the books go to their reviews in RaVoN: