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