A conference co-organised by
the Department of English, University of Groningen
and English Studies, Sheffield Hallam University

Exploring the Romantic-Era Novel,
1780 -1840

University of Groningen
The Netherlands
17-19 November 1999

The conference will take place the old university town of Groningen,
an easy two-hour train journey north of Amsterdam.

Information on travel to Groningen and about Groningen
(click through to Groningen) is available
Details about hotel accommodation, registration fees, and so on will soon be available on the conference website

Plenary Speakers:

Nancy Armstrong (Brown University)
Claudia L. Johnson (Princeton University)
Robert Miles (Sheffield Hallam University)

Call for papers:

This conference will map the multiple critical journeys taken in studies of the Romantic-era novel in the years since 1972, when Robert Kiely defined the genre of the Romantic novel. Recent critics have moved away from Kiely’s attempt to define the Romantic novel as a complementary category for Romantic poetry. Instead, as new work on Austen and Mary Shelley, the Gothic novel, Scott and Burney demonstrates, contemporary readings of the period’s fiction are informed by theories of post-colonialism, feminism, and new historicism, and attend to the complex relations between prose fiction and nationalism, economics, politics, and scientific discourses, amongst others. The conference will be an opportunity to take stock of advances in this field and to consider aspects of the genre still neglected.

Issues to be debated include:

  • What is the relation between the novel and “Romanticism”?
  • Is the novel of this period cosmopolitan or provincial?
  • What is the impact of new scholarly editions, especially of the work of women writers?
  • What was the role of circulating libraries?
  • What was the significance of Minerva and other popular presses?
  • What are the roles of the subgenres which flourished in the latter part of the period, such as the Newgate novel and the Silverfork novel, as well as hybrid genres, such as the verse novel and the travelogue?
  • How is the woman of genius, vision, and imagination represented?

Contributions are particularly welcomed on the international dimensions of novel production, such as translations, and cosmopolitan exchanges and influences, including the export of sentimental discourses to America.

We welcome the submission of proposals for individual papers, not to exceed 20 minutes

We also welcome proposals for special sessions; these should include a session title, a chairperson, and abstracts of 3 papers.

In addition, there will be special sessions on the following topics. Papers for these sessions should be submitted directly to session chairs; if they are not accepted for these sessions, they will be considered for inclusion in other sessions.

  • La Nouvelle Heloise and the Romantic Period: Rousseau's novel was first published in England in 1761, yet it was not until the 1790s that the text aroused in readers its most passionate and extravagant responses; in the Romantic period, then, it emerged as central focus for and object of cultural debate. In novels by Mary Hays, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Amelia Opie, for example, Heloise is the text which directly inspires heroines to understand acts of transgression as acts of ideal virtue - a misunderstanding which invariably leads to their downfall. Those interested in participating in this panel should e-mail a short abstract of their proposed paper to Mary Peace at m.v.peace@shu.ac.uk
  • The Woman of Genius and Vision: Much Romantic criticism, especially that focusing on poetry, identifies the female as source for male vision and consolation from the strains of (male) visionary activity but treats the female herself as incapable of transcendent vision. Yet novels such as Madame de Stael's Corinne and heroines such as Radcliffe's suggest that the female visionary can exist. This session sets out to explore how such a woman gets represented in fiction of this period, and/or what kinds of work she - the woman of genius - creates. Is she a contradiction in terms? Must she become an other-worldly sybil in her role as female visionary? And to what extent do fictions containing such a character challenge the gendering of vision and the restriction of it to certain genres? Those interested in participating in this panel should send a short (500-word) abstract to Julie Shaffer, English Studies, Sheffield Hallam University, 32 Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield S10 2BP or by e-mail to shaffer@uwosh.edu.
  • Figuring Property in Novels by Women: In Married Women's Separate Property in England, 1660-1833 (1990), Susan Staves argues that, during the eighteenth century, the right of women to own property was steadily eroded until `woman' and `ownership' came to be separate categories. How does this impinge on the novels of the period, especially those that feature inheritance or the rightful ownership of en estate as essential to plot development? If women can't `own' property, can they still lay claim to their imagination - to their intellectual property? Papers are invited on any aspect of `property' in the female-authored novel, including those that problematize or interrogate the categories of `ownership' and `inheritance'. Please send abstracts of not more than 400 words to Jacqueline Labbe, School of English, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TD, or by e-mail to j.labbe@sheffield.ac.uk

For submissions for other panels, please send 500-word abstracts or complete papers, before 17 June 1999, to the conference organisers at
BOTH the Universities of Groningen AND Sheffield Hallam:

Amanda Gilroy or Wil Verhoeven
Dept. of English
University of Groningen
PO Box 716
9700 AS Groningen
The Netherlands
Tel. +31.50.3635850
Fax: +31.50.3635821
Email: a.l.gilroy@let.rug.nl or
Emma Clery
School of Cultural Studies
Sheffield Hallam University
36 Collegiate Crescent
Sheffield S10 2BP
Tel. +44.114.272-0911
Email: e.j.clery@shu.ac.uk