September 2008


People! Is anyone here as into

Mostly he covers things from before our period, but here are two entries the Long 19thers may enjoy:

Quick, Jeeves, Cover the Piano Legs!
The Brits thought Americans prudes. But then the table turned.

The Curse of Self-Abuse
Three hundred years of worry over that most personal of acts.

And here’s one that’s not relevant at all, but it’s my favorite:

Standing up in Court
In the dreaded French impotence trials, performance anxiety took on new meaning.

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So probably many of you have heard Tennyson reading “Charge of the Light Brigade.” There exist recordings of him reading other poems, including an excerpt from Maud, which some dude made a video for:

(more…)

What’s up with the new Project MUSE interface? Is it just me, or did MUSE just go from the best database interface to the worst?

Our upcoming Fall events are as follows. All meetings will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the English Department Thesis Room. The listserv is your best source for updates and details.

9/26–Reading group on Catholicism, Sexual Deviance, and Victorian Gothic Culture

10/17–Working group on publishing and field definition

10/31–Reading group discussion of The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination

11/7–Workshop on CV design and general professionalization

12/5–Discussion of Language, Science, and Popular Fiction in the Victorian Fin-de-Siecle: The Brutal Tongue

The idea for the Long 19th Century Group at the CUNY Graduate Center (officially, the British Long 19th Century Student Colloquium) came from the Victorian Area group meeting in the fall of 2006. The group is designed to create community among students working on British literature of the long nineteenth century, facilitate student and faculty interaction, and establish a support network for professionalization. Even though the initiative for the group came from Victorianists, this particular group has always been “Long 19th Century” in its orientation–and part of our ongoing collective project has been to define exactly what constitutes the Long 19th Century. More recently, a handful of transatlanticists have joined our ranks, a movement that certainly reflects what’s going on in the field as a whole.

One of the most immediate results of the area group meeting was the creation of the LONG19TH mailing list, which is still going strong almost two years later. The listserv allows us to communicate about items of interest to us as scholars, to share works in progress, and to promote meetings and events. It’s a great resource for CFPs in the field and other news, much of which I cull from the VICTORIA list and a few others. Anyone (students, faculty, non-Graduate Center folk) can subscribe to this list, either by going here or by sending an email to me: a c mccarthy at gmail. (Remove the spaces, etc.) We make an effort to not abuse the mailing list, so it shouldn’t overwhelm anyone’s inboxes.

The Long 19th Century Group began its monthly meetings during the Spring 2007 semester. Originally, these were discussion groups, based on a reading selection from a recent critical work in the field. We still do that, but we have also expanded our meetings to include working groups where we tackle issues like conferencing, publishing, the orals, and the job  market–all with an emphasis on the fields of Romantic, Victorian, and Edwardian literature. During the summer, the working groups have provided us with a much-needed break from toiling in solitude. Perhaps the most beloved part of the working group is The List Of Shame, a semi-public tally of our goals and deadlines that we now check on at each meeting. (We don’t have plans to put that up on the blog anytime soon; The List Of Shame currently resides in my paper journal.) The working groups are also the place for discussions of specific works in progress and have provided us with the opportunity to hear from junior scholars working outside of the CUNY system.

Last year’s working groups made for a huge forward leap in our collective professional profile. Everyone who attended the conference abstract workshop last October has since had at least one abstract accepted to a conference–many of them competitive and high profile ones, like NVSA, MVSA, and MLA. Fortunately, our Spring Semester lineup included a conference paper workshop. We’re hoping to continue that streak in the coming academic year.

This semester (Fall 2008) marks the second full year of the existence of the Long 19th Century Group. We had a record turnout at the first working group meeting this month, and we’re looking forward to expanding and welcoming new members. We are truly a “long 19th century” bunch, with members working on Romanticism and early 20th century modernism, as well as in more recognizably “Victorian” areas. We are also much more spread out in terms of degree progress than we have been in the past. Several of us are in the prospectus / early dissertation stage, but we have a strong representation from first- and second-year students as well. We’re doing our best this year to design our meetings so that they will be broadly useful to our members, however long their 19th centuries are and wherever they are in the program.

Our upcoming Fall events are as follows. All meetings will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the English Department Thesis Room. The listserv is your best source for updates and details.

9/26–Reading group on Catholicism, Sexual Deviance, and Victorian Gothic Culture

10/17–Working group on publishing and field definition

10/31–Reading group discussion of The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination

11/7–Workshop on CV design and general professionalization

12/5–Discussion of Language, Science, and Popular Fiction in the Victorian Fin-de-Siecle: The Brutal Tongue

“The habit of journalizing becomes a life-long lesson in the art of composition, an informal schooling for authorship. And were the process of preparing their works for publication faithfully detailed by distinguished writers, it would appear how large were their indebtedness to their diary and commonplaces. How carefully should we peruse Shakespeare’s notes used in compiling his plays–what was his, what another’s–showing how these were fashioned into the shapely whole we read, how Milton composed, Montaigne, Goethe: by what happy strokes of thought, flashes of wit, apt figures, fit quotations snatched from vast fields of learning, their rich pages were wrought forth! This were to give the keys of great authorship!” Amos Bronson Alcott, Table-Talk of A. Bronson Alcott (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1877), p. 12.

So I’ve been searching and sifting the 1s and 0s of my silicon soul, and I would like to propose something that would fundamentally change this blog’s raison d’être. Previously, I had envisioned this as some “large, loose, baggy monster” encompassing several not-necessarily-overlapping goals: notes to dissertators and proto-dissertators; discussion of professionalization; group “homework” assignments geared toward learning what our field is all about; posting random stuff.

I’m thinking about explicitly making the last the primary function of this blog. So, instead of modeling this on the genre of academic group blog, I think that this should be more like a group commonplace book. (Check out Peter Stallybrass’s “Against Thinking” in the Oct 2007 PMLA for more on the practice.)

First of all, I think this will make this easier for people still doing their coursework to contribute. Noteworthy passages among the hundreds of pages of reading for coursework are worth storing as searchable blog entries for the one posting them, and hopefully for the rest of us to browse as well. Trying to come up with some semi-non-asinine ideas to post on a semi-regular basis, is actually quite time-consuming and might end up distracting us with our work. With a commonplace-categorized entry, you can just cut and paste and avoid that dangerous habit of thinking.

For those of us with specific projects we’re working on, I also think having a bunch of random vaguely nineteenth-century-related excerpts randomly posted is also important, since tunnel vision and an absurdly narrow focus make the stereotypically bad dissertation only useful as a doorstop.

So, less thinking, more working. What do people think?

…and talking to Nabokov about Lolita, and moderated by the bearer of a particularly fine twentieth-century mustache of Upper Canadian provenance. Oh for the days when Victorianists were hep!

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