2015 Conference "Victorian Sense and the Senses"  |  University of Iowa, May 1-3

The Midwest Victorian Studies Association will hold its 2015 annual conference at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, May 1-3, 2015. Papers will revolve around topics related to the conference theme of “Sense and the Senses.” This includes any aspect of the topic in art, music, history, science, philosophy, theater or literature: senses and the invisible; sounds and soundscapes; listening/depictions of listening; the relationship between the body and mind; the five senses; the representation of sense or reason; rationality and embodiment; the relationship(s) among sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste; the conflict or accord between reason and the senses; the scientific, psychological, philosophical, or empirical study of the senses; the role of the senses in the creation of ideas or knowledge; the relationship between sense and emotion; empiricism and the imaginary; the disarray or unreliability of the senses; synaesthesia; mesmerism, hypnotism, and extrasensory perception; sensory textures of spaces and lived experiences; sensory extensions/alterations catalyzed by technologies. The tentative conference program is available here.

MVSA’s 2015 Jane Stedman Plenary Speaker will be Linda M. Shires, David and Ruth Gottesman Professor of English, Yeshiva University. Her talk is entitled “Coming to our Senses: Colors in the 19th Century.” She is the author of Perspectives: Modes of Viewing and Knowing in 19th-Century England (2009), co-author with Steven Cohan of Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative Fiction (1988; 2002), and editor of Rewriting the Victorians (1992; 2012) and From Romantic to Victorian: Essays by U.C. Knoepflmacher (forthcoming).

For the second year, MVSA will feature three seminars open to graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars led by senior scholars on topics related to the conference theme. Seminar participants pre-circulate 5-to-7 page papers. This year's topics are "Victorian Science and Spiritualism," led by Anna Neill; "Food, Taste, and the Body," led by Chris Otter; and "Mind-Body Matters: Picturing the Victorian Frame of Mind," led by Nancy Rose Marshall.

Special events will include a dramatic performance and a demonstration of Highland dancing in the Iowa Old Capitol Senate Chamber. A publication of selected essays from the conference is planned.


For information on past MVSA conferences, visit the Archives section of the website.