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.
Henry 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.