2015 Dickens Universe

This summer, UT’s Professor Nancy Henry and graduate students Kat Powell and Alli Clymer attended Dickens Universe at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Nancy Henry, who just completed a term as the Professional Relations Director on the Executive Committee of the Dickens Project, has been taking two students with her to the “Universe” since 2009, when she joined the UT faculty.This year’s UT participants also attended a three-day conference prior to the Universe titled “The Long Wide Nineteenth Century,” which featured a series of talks, panels, and synthesis sessions discussing the spatial and temporal concerns of the field.

Dickens Universe brings together scholars from around the world and across multiple literary fields. This year’s event featured transnational scholarship inspired by the two Dickens works selected for 2015, Martin Chuzzlewit and American Notes. 

Left to right: Nancy Henry, Kat Powell, Alli Clymer

Left to right: Nancy Henry, Kat Powell, Alli Clymer

In-between the fascinating lectures that book-ended every day at the Universe, this year’s UT attendees also participated in nineteenth-century scholarship through a range of intellectual and professional activities.

Professor Nancy Henry taught a graduate student seminar with Joseph Lavery (UC Berkeley) on Martin Chuzzlewit and American Notes. She also presented a paper titled “Liverpool Connections” in a panel on “Exchanges and Networks” during “The Long Wide Nineteenth Century” conference. Henry is currently co-organizing the 2016 Universe on Dombey and Son with James Adams of Columbia University.

Graduate student Kat Powell attended a graduate student seminar led by Claire Jarvis (Stanford) and Michael Cohen (UCLA). Besides discussing this year’s texts, the faculty leaders also introduced the daily lectures into class discussion. Students had the opportunity to examine the lectures meta-critically, identifying the various methodologies and evaluating how evidence was selected, arranged, and presented. Kat also participated in a writing workshop directed by Jill Galvan (Ohio SU) and Renée Fox (UC Santa Cruz). A group of five students shared and discussed writing from a variety of academic genres including seminar papers, articles, and fellowship applications. Kat had this to say about the experience:

“The graduate seminar was helpful on multiple levels. The faculty leaders, Claire and Michael responded to the needs of the class, opening up discussion to include the lectures. They used the assigned primary texts to help us sort out the talks by characterizing the speakers’ choices in intervention, use of primary and secondary evidence, organization, and delivery. Re-engineering the class in this way allowed us to process the talks as a group. It also helped us to consider how and why we make the choices we do in our own work.

“The writing workshop was invaluable. Having a range of writing genres to discuss allowed us to think about the different requirements in a range of academic writing styles and what constitutes successful writing within those various genres. I received such helpful feedback on my work and enjoyed reading and responding to the interesting work of peers outside of my department. As a result, I established working relationships that will continue beyond ‘the Universe’.”

Graduate student Alli Clymer took part in a pedagogy seminar led by Priti Joshi (University of Puget Sound) and Susan Zieger (UC Riverside) and attended the “Publication” professionalization workshop given by Peter Capuano (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), editor of Nineteenth-Century Literature Jonathan Grossman (UCLA), and Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway, University of London), who serves as an editor for the Journal of Victorian Culture. Alli reflects on her experience:

“The pedagogy seminar gave me the opportunity to workshop a syllabus for a 19th-century literature course I’m hoping to teach in the near future. The seminar leaders, fellow graduate students, as well as a guest panel of professors in the field provided me with invaluable insights into what it is like to teach 19th-century literature at various types of institutions.”

“The publication professionalization seminar was an incredible experience. With an intimate group of 15 graduate students, I was able to talk to journal editors who answered questions about the practicalities of the submission process, demystified the article selection process, and opened up a dialogue about what they believe to be vital components of a successful article. This seminar was invaluable and left me energized to revisit my own projects with new knowledge about publishing in the field.”

The UT participants also made time throughout the week for the Universe’s festive activities, including PPPs (post-prandial potations), Victorian high teas, a Grand Party filled with extravagant cheeses and desserts (where even a power outage couldn’t darken the mood), and a Victorian dance (with period dress, music, and dancing!).

Jill Lepore (Harvard Univ) lectures on

Jill Lepore (Harvard) lectures on “Pickwick in America”

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 will be held at the University of California-Davis on March 18-20, and will be organized by Kathleen Frederickson (UC Davis), Elizabeth Miller (UC Davis), and graduate student coordinator Michael Martel.

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.

Book: Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud

This August Cambridge University Press will publish Radical Orientalism: Rights, Reform, and Romanticism by Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud.

rad orientThis fascinating study reveals the extent to which the Orientalism of Byron and the Shelleys resonated with the reformist movement of the Romantic era. It documents how and why radicals like Bentham, Cobbett, Carlile, Hone and Wooler, among others in post-Revolutionary Britain, invoked Turkey, North Africa and Mughal India when attacking and seeking to change their government’s domestic policies. Examining a broad archive ranging from satires, journalism, tracts, political and economic treatises, and public speeches, to the exotic poetry and fictions of canonical Romanticism, Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud shows that promoting colonization was not Orientalism’s sole ideological function. Equally vital was its aesthetic and rhetorical capacity to alienate the people’s affection from their rulers and fuel popular opposition to regressive taxation, penal cruelty, police repression, and sexual regulation.

Order it from Cambridge University Press for your library now. You can also order Kindle as well as hardcover versions of Radical Orientalism through Amazon for your personal collection.

UT English Dept co-sponsors 2016 INCS conference in Asheville, NC

INCS2016CFP_curtainINCS 2016, “Natural and Unnatural Histories” will be hosted at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC on 10-13 March 2016. The University of Tennessee English Department is one of the sponsors of the event along with main sponsor Appalachia State, and Professors Nancy Henry and Amy Billone  of UT are members of the organizing committee.

The Keynote speakers are Kate Flint (University of Southern California) and Elaine Freedgood (NYU). See the cfp here: INCS2016CFP

Deadline: November 2, 2015. Upload proposals and a one-page CV via incs2016.appstate.edu.  For individual papers, send 250-word proposals; for panels, send individual proposals plus a 250-word panel description. Proposals that are interdisciplinary in method or panels that involve multiple disciplines are especially welcome. Questions? Contact Jill Ehnenn at incs@appstate.edu

Nancy Henry named new associate editor of George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies.

Recently, Professor Nancy Henry was named the new associate editor of George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies. Nancy_HenrySince its inception more than thirty years ago, George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies seeks to provide a forum for those interested and actively engaged in working with either George Eliot, George Henry Lewes, or the relationship between them and their circle. Congratulations, Professor Henry!

Soon, the journal will be publishing a George Henry Lewes Bicentennial Issue

EL_WEBcovGeorge Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies, a peer-reviewed journal, invites submissions for a special issue to commemorate the life and writing of George Henry Lewes (1817-1878) on the bicentennial of his birth.

Submissions of 5,000-6,000 words on any aspect of Lewes’s life and writing are due by July 29, 2016.

To submit a manuscript, visit:  www.editorialmanager.com/geghls and create an author profile.

Address inquiries to William Baker (wbaker@niu.edu) and Nancy Henry (nhenry3@utk.edu).

Victorian Modernities Conference, 25-27 June 2015

Recently, graduate student Kat Powell traveled to Canterbury, England to attend the Victorian Modernities conference at the University of Kent. The event was inspired by the 150th anniversary of the famous Staplehurst railway accident in which Charles Dickens, Ellen Ternan and her mother were all surviving victims. vm

The conference featured two stellar Keynote speakers: Professor Jonathan Grossman (UCLA), “Standardisation (standardization)” and Professor Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway, University of London), “Victorian Modernity & the ‘Just Past’: Travelling the Empty Road with Dickens & Hardy.” Conference attendants were also treated to a spectacular magic lantern show, which traced the development and influence of the railways over the 19th century. At the conference, UT graduate student Kat Powell presented her paper, “Engineering heroes: Railway inventions & literary interventions in Victorian women’s writing.”

Dickens Project Graduate Winter Conference at UT, February 2015



On a snowy Saturday in late February, faculty and graduate students who attended last summer’s Dickens Universe in Santa Cruz convened in Knoxville, Tennessee for the Graduate Winter Conference. Funded by the Dickens Project, this year’s conference was  co-organized by Professor Nancy Henry (English, UT) and Professor Ellen Rosenman (English, UK). Graduate student Kat Powell (English, UT) assisted in organizing the conference along with a committee of UT graduate students in the nineteenth-century literature division, including Becky McCann, Alli Clymer, John Stromski, and Matt Smith.

Dickens Project Graduate Winter Conference, Moderators and Presenters                                     Left to Right: Sophia Hsu, Mark Celeste, Jackie Harris, Brianna Beehler, Lily Zhu, Kathryne Ford, Amy Billone, Carol MacKay, Nancy Henry, Kristin Smith, Ellen Rosenman, Matt Smith, Kat Powell, Becky McCann, Kevin Sigerman, Anne Sullivan, Tara Thomas, Pritika Pradhan

Dickens Project Graduate Winter Conference, Moderators and Presenters                                       (Left to Right): Sophia Hsu, Mark Celeste, Jackie Harris, Brianna Beehler, Lily Zhu, Kathryne Ford, Amy Billone, Carol MacKay, Nancy Henry, Kristin Smith, Ellen Rosenman, Matt Smith, Kat Powell, Becky McCann, Kevin Sigerman, Anne Sullivan, Tara Thomas, Pritika Pradhan



For this conference, faculty members serve as mentors, providing feedback on student papers in advance of the conference. This year’s mentors included Dickens Project Director John O. Jordan (UC, Santa Cruz), Ryan Fong (Kalamazoo), Elizabeth Meadows (Vanderbilt), Carol MacKay, (U of Texas), and Ellen Rosenman (U of Kentucky). Professors MacKay and Rosenman also served as panel moderators along with Amy Billone (U of Tennessee), Nancy Henry, and Kat Powell.

Representing universities from the west to east coast, Canada to Texas (and Australia!), the graduate students presented engaging papers on diverse subjects from the rhetoric of nineteenth-century beards to the “behindance” of parentheticals in fiction to the musical mechanics of poetry. As always, the warm and collegial atmosphere associated with Dickens Project events helped make the conference a success. After a long and lively day of exchanging ideas, graduate students and faculty braved winter weather conditions to explore Knoxville’s unique charms.

We look forward to this summer’s Dickens Universe in Santa Cruz on Aug. 2-7, which takes for its focus Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit and American Notes. The Universe will be preceded by a conference on The Long, Wide Nineteenth Century, July 31-Aug. 2. Besides the scholarly program, attendants look forward to the nightly celebrations guided by this summer’s capable Cruise Directors, Anne Sullivan (UCR) and Kevin Sigerman (Rutgers). In the words of Nicholas Nickleby, “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” Hope to see many of you there!