2014 Dickens Universe

Recently, UT faculty and students visited sunny Santa Cruz, CA, where they attended the Dickens Universe. Professor Nancy Henry, who serves as the Professional Relations Director on the Executive Committee of the Dickens Project, has been taking two students  with her to the “Universe” since 2008, when she joined the UT faculty. She also brings one faculty member each year, and this year she brought Assistant Professor Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud before he leaves for his Fulbright Fellowship year in Morocco. Nancy co-taught a graduate seminar on this year’s text, Our Mutual Friend with Chris Pittard (University of Portsmouth, UK).

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Left to right: Becky McCann, Matt Smith, Nancy Henry, Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud

Besides attending the fascinating presentations, graduate students Matt Smith and Becky McCann participated in more intimate workshops as well as a range of scholarly and festive activities. Matt attended a graduate student seminar led by Dan Bivona (Arizona State) and Peter Capuano (University of Nebraska-Lincoln). He participated in the pedagogy workshop led by Priti Joshi (University of Puget Sound) and Susan Ziegar (UC-Riverside) and attended the “Shapes of Dissertations” professionalization seminar given by Catherine Robson (NYU). Matt had this to say about his experience with the workshops: “The dissertation workshop will certainly prove invaluable when it comes time for me to begin structuring and organizing my project. The pedagogy seminar was perhaps the most fruitful, particularly the sessions we spent creating and workshopping rough drafts of syllabi for 19th-century literature courses.”

Becky took part in a writing workshop under the direction of Elisha Cohn (Cornell) and Jill Galvan (OSU). Along with five other graduate students, Becky had the opportunity to discuss and receive feedback on her current project on artificial resuscitation in Our Mutual Friend. She also spent most of her afternoons in a graduate seminar led by Claire Jarvis (Stanford) and Amanpal Garcha (OSU). During the professionalization workshops, Becky chose to attend a publishing seminar with Rae Greiner (Indiana), and editor of Victorian Studies, and Jonathan Grossman (UCLA), who serves as an editor for Nineteenth-Century Literature. Becky reflects on her experience:
“The writing workshop provided me the unique opportunity to have professors and grad students from other universities review my work. The range of interests in the group was exciting and impressive, the perspectives of my peers from other consortium schools refreshing and invaluable. I felt so fortunate to receive feedback from a group of scholars who were intimately familiar with the text with which my essay is concerned, and I enjoyed catching a glimpse of the kind of work other students are producing while reading excerpts from their dissertation chapters and the like.
“The graduate seminar was an absolute blast! Our group engaged in conversations that spanned the novel’s narrative necessities and thematic underpinnings, the daily lectures, and professional approaches to presentation and pedagogy. Again, the Universe experience–of forming relationships and working with peers and future colleagues from other consortium schools–was itself unique and altogether invaluable.
“The presentation seminar, too, proved illuminating. Professors Greiner and Grossman did a superb job of demystifying the process of publication at their respective journals. I left with a more thorough understanding of what publication entails and a clearer sense of purpose than I had coming out of similar seminars at UVA or UT.”

Graduate students and faculty also made time for the Universe’s many festivities. Participants socialize at PPPs (post-prandial potations), Victorian high tea, and even a Victorian dance (complete with quadrilles!). Matt and Becky also attended the annual play. This year thespians of all ranges participated in “OMFG: A Dickensian Travesty”–a farce performance based on Our Mutual Friend.

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Becky and Matt take time to snap a photo with “Charles Dickens” post-farce

Students who attend the Universe will also be fully funded for attendance at the corresponding Dickens Project Winter Conference in Spring of the following year. This year’s Winter Conference, organized by Professor Henry and Graduate Student Conference Coordinator Kat Powell, will take place at The University of Tennessee. Next summer’s Universe will take on Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit and American Notes. UT students need not be specialists in Dickens or even in Victorian literature to attend the conference, but students who have attended the Universe have also participated in the 19th C British Research Seminar. Applications to represent UT at the Dickens Universe are usually solicited in February by Dr. Henry.

Nancy Henry (UTK) gives keynote at BWWC June 2014

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Professor Nancy Henry gave a keynote address on Friday, June 20, 2014 for the British Women Writer’s Association‘s 22nd annual conference, “Reflections,” hosted by SUNY, Binghamton. In her talk, “Fiction Reflected in Lives/Lives Reflected in Fiction,” Henry encouraged critics to seek out connections between biographical material and literature, but she cautioned them to do so responsibly. Henry explored the critical history of the misuse of biographical and literary evidence in the example of George Eliot and her biographers, which can be read in further detail in her recent book, The Life of George Eliot: A Critical Biography (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

Henry also addressed the rich potential found in the intersections between biography and literature in the case of Charlotte Riddell and the influence of the Bankruptcy Act of 1869 and the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 on her personal life, her literary career,  and her fiction. These cases and others will appear at length in her book-in-progress, Women and the Nineteenth-Century Cultures of Investment.

photo 3Henry also chaired the panel, “Reflecting on ‘Progress': Technology and Economics, which included UTK graduate student, Kat Powell. Kat’s paper, “Reflecting on Sour Grapes: Cognitive Dissonance & Innovative Shunts in 19thC Railroad Fiction,” comes from her dissertation-in-progress on Railroads and Regret.

After the conference, Nancy Henry joined some of her current and former dissertation students for a relaxing brunch by the lake.

Left to Right: Claudia Martin, Susan Ray, Kat Powell, Nancy Henry, and conference organizer, Angela Runciman.

Left to Right: Claudia Martin, Susan Ray, Kat Powell, Nancy Henry, and conference organizer, Angela Runciman.

Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud (UTK) awarded Fulbright Fellowship 2014-2015


Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud, a member of the University of Tennessee’s nineteenth-century British literature faculty, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in the English department at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh, Morocco during 2014-15.

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He’s proposed teaching the following courses with digital humanities components: “Orientalism in English and American Literature” and “Translation: Theory and Practice.” In the first, students would compose personal and analytic responses to classic Orientalist depictions of the Middle East and its peoples, which would be published on a course website, “Re:Orientalism.” In the second course, students would translate texts in Arabic from as-yet untranslated writers who visited and represented Europe and America, and Gerard and his students would set up a website/archive of these accounts of the West.

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One of the benefits of Gerard’s Fulbright is the opportunity it will provide him to advance his fluency in Arabic, which he studied for four years in graduate school. His Moroccan year builds on his previous immersion study of Arabic in Yemen in 2007 on a Critical Language Scholarship. Congratulations, Gerard!

Kim Marra (University of Iowa) visits UT Friday, April 4th

English Marra Lecture PosterKim Marra, Professor of Theatre Arts and American Studies, will give a talk titled, “Riding the Nineteenth Century: Théâtre Equestre Zingaro’s Historical Performances” on Friday, April 4th at 3:30 in 1210 McClung Tower.

Along with her expertise as a performance historian, Marra draws on her training and experience of riding in the cavalry-derived sport of Three-Day Eventing (or equestrian triathlon) to examine how the internationally influential work of the French equestrian theatre troupe, Théâtre Equestre Zingaro offers a unique window into cross-species relations in the nineteenth-century. Founded in 1984 by its guru-like artistic director, who goes by the single name Bartabas, the company of horses and humans eschews modern conveniences and lives and performs on a compound in simulated circumstances of the Romantic era when horses reigned in the circus before wild beast acts began to predominate. Marra’s analysis considers Zingaro’s lifestyle and performance process reveals about the ways equines intensified and complicated gender, sexual, racial, and class dynamics among humans in this horse-powered era. Her project raises provocative questions about using embodied and affective knowledge as well as more traditional scholarly and archival methods of researching the nineteenth century.

This event is free and open to the public. Come one, Come all!


Sun., Mar. 16: Nancy Henry’s Middlemarch Podcast Airs!

On Sunday, March 16th, CBC books podcast “Writers and Company” with Eleanor Wachtel will air a panel discussion on George Eliot’s Middlemarch. The panel includes Nancy Henry (English Professor, UT), Rebecca Mead (New Yorker), and Francine Prose (novelist).

Henry, author of The Life of George Eliot. Blackwell Critical Biography Series (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), recently received an NEH Fellowship for 2014-2015 to work on her current book project, Women and the Nineteenth-Century Cultures of Investment.

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The podcast airs this Sunday the 16th and again on Tuesday the 18th.
Come have a listen!

Mark Canuel visits UT this February

Mark Canuel, professor of English at the University of Illinois-Chicago, will give a talk on “Shelley’s Light” on Monday Feb. 17 at 3:30 in McClung 1210. Professor Canuel is the author of three books on moral philosophy, the law, and aesthetics: Religion, Toleration, and British Writing (Cambridge, 2002),The Shadow of Death: Literature, Romanticism, and the Subject of Punishment (Princeton, 2007), and Justice, Dissent, and the Sublime (Johns Hopkins, 2012).

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Professor Nancy Henry Named NEH Fellow

N-Henry-re2-resizeProfessor Henry was awarded a research fellowship for the 2014-2015 academic year by the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to complete her book project, Women and the Nineteenth-Century Cultures of Investment.

Henry’s book, she writes, “defines the cultures that emerged in response to the democratization of the stock market in nineteenth-century Britain when investing provided legal access to financial independence. Women voted in shareholder meetings, as they could not in political elections, and their experiences as investors complicate notions of separate domestic and public spheres. In fact, women writers often invested income from their writing, becoming contributors to national and global economies. In fiction, Victorian novels represent those economic networks in realistic detail and are preoccupied with the intertwined economic and affective lives of characters. Analyzing evidence about real investors together with a wide range of fictional examples, I argue that investing was not just something women did in Victorian Britain; it was a distinctly modern way of thinking about independence, risk, global communities and the future in general.”

Professor Henry had this to say to Tennessee Today: “I am honored to receive the NEH fellowship, which will enable me to complete a book project I have been developing over the past several years. I am grateful to the UT English department for its support of my research and to the university for its support of humanities.”

UT graduate student, Andrew Lallier Wins the Trollope Prize!

University of Tennessee graduate student Andrew Lallier won the 2013 Trollope Prize for his paper, “Battles over bits and diamonds: sanction, pragmatic pursuit and civil society in Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds.” Besides receiving a considerable monetary award, Andrew will also see his work published in The Fortnightly ReviewCongratulations, Andrew!

Frederick Waddy [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Frederick Waddy (1872) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

NAVSA Conference, “Evidence.” Pasadena, CA. Oct. 23-27

Recently, Professor Nancy Henry and graduate students, Andrew Lallier and Kat Powell traveled to balmy Pasadena to attend the North American Victorian Studies Association conference, “Evidence.”

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On the last day of the conference, Kat Powell draws attention to the beauty of the conference venue. (Photo by Eli Johnson)

Professor Henry presented her paper, “Historicizing Women Investors” on the panel “Speculation: Wills, Investments, & Money” along with fellow panelists, Maura O’Connor (University of Cincinnati) and Jill Rappoport (University of Kentucky). She also found time to visit with former and current students, now spread from Colorado to Pennsylvania: Susan Ray (Assistant Professor, Delaware Community College), Sanghee Lee (SUNY, Binghamton), Kat Powell (UT), and Andrew Lallier (UT).

Professor Henry visits with her students. (Left to right): Kat, Nancy, Sanghee, Susan, and Andrew.

Professor Henry visits with her students. (Left to right): Kat, Nancy, Sanghee, Susan, and Andrew.

Andrew attended the “Fictionalism in Victorian and Edwardian Culture” seminar led by Michael Saler (University of California Davis), and Kat attended George Levine’s (Rutgers University) seminar, “Science and Religion.”

Kat, Sanghee, Susan, and Andrew chat before the Plenary.

Kat, Sanghee, Susan, and Andrew chat before the Plenary.

Lauren Goodlad visits UT: Tuesday, September 10th

Goodlad_2009This Fall,  Lauren Goodlad (Professor of English and Criticism and Interpretive Theory at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) will visit UT to give her talk, “The Way We Historicize Now.” Goodlad is the Director of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory and is currently completing her book The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic: Realism, Sovereignty and Transnational Experience. Her lecture will be held in the Lindsay Young Auditorium, Room 101 of Hodges Library from 4-6pm.