Saturday, August 05, 2006

CFP: Print Culture and the Novel: 1850-1900

CFP: Print Culture and the Novel: 1850-1900

A One-Day Conference, English Faculty, University of Oxford
January 20, 2007 (??)

No longer was it possible for people to avoid reading matter; everywhere they went it was displayed - weekly papers at a penny or twopence, complete books, enticing in their bright picture covers, at a shilling, and all fresh and crisp from the press. No wonder that the fifties, which saw the spread of Smith's stalls to almost every principal railway line in the country,
were also the period when the sales of books and periodicals reached unprecedented levels. --Richard Altick.

2007 marks fifty years since Richard Altick's The English Common Reader. That book tells us that printed matter was, from the 1850s, ubiquitous in British society. Consequently, the novel was accessible to readers via a newly diverse and dynamic print culture, - an accessibility which affected its structure, reputation and content. This model has served critics of Victorian literature for almost fifty years, but as Altick's groundbreaking and influential work approaches its half-century it is perhaps time to consider, review and collate work on print culture and the novel.

This conference seeks to interrogate the various relationships not only between the novel and the periodical, but between a whole range of emergent print forms as they developed in the period, such as advertising, illustration, cartoons and pamphlets. Adumbrated in the Common Reader, the ways in which the novel was made available to readers can be productively
re-thought in the light of new research taking place in this field.

Focussing on the second half of the nineteenth century we encourage a broad interpretation of themes which might include, but is not limited to:

-The commercialisation of the novel
-The author as professional
-The role of the publisher in the development of the novel
-Readerships: were different print-forms read differently?
-The novel as an institution of print culture

We welcome papers taking an interdisciplinary approach that productively combine literary with book-history methodologies.

We invite proposals for papers of 20 minutes duration. 200-250 word proposals should be sent to by 1st September 2006.