Cfp: Nature and the Long Nineteenth Century

A one-day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference exploring intersections of the natural world with nineteenth-century literature
and culture, to be held at the University of Edinburgh, Saturday, 6 February 2010.
Keynote speakers: Dr Martin Willis, University of Glamorgan, Dr Christine Ferguson, University of Glasgow, Professor Nick Daly, University College Dublin.

In the twenty-first century, environmentalism and the impacts of climate change form a nexus of intense debates about relationship between human culture and the natural world. However, the centrality of the natural world to the nineteenth century imagination has long been acknowledged by scholars, way-marked by Lynn Merrill's The Romance of Victorian Natural History (1989) for example, while Mike Davis's Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World (2002) demonstrates the relevance of nineteenth-century research to the modern world.

This conference probes the significance of nature to the long nineteenth century and to our study of its literature, history, science, art, and other media. How did the natural world influence people in the nineteenth century?and how did nineteenth-century culture shape attitudes to the natural world? Have twenty-first century questions over nature, climate, and the environment changed the way we view and study the cultural products of the nineteenth century, or offered new avenues for research, especially interdisciplinary research?

Possible topics could include but are not limited to:
Representations of nature in history, literature, drama, poetry, art, theatre Representations of, or human relationships with: oceans and the seaside, mountains and the countryside, rivers, lakes, gardens, working animals, pets Natural history, specimens, collecting, displaying Science and human or animal nature: hybridity, husbandry, eugenics; Darwinism and biology; Lyell and geology Climate change, environmentalism, eco-criticism, the ecotopia The natural world in romance, Gothic, the fantastic Natural horror, biological monstrosity and the limits of the human The (un)natural city, machine, media The (super)natural world: ghosts, spiritualism, Gothic Theoretical approaches to human and animal nature or the representation of nature.

Postgraduate and early-career researchers are invited to submit 300 word proposals for 20 minute papers or proposals for panels to by 16 November 2009. .

Organisers: Claire McKechnie, University of Edinburgh and Dr Emily Alder, Edinburgh Napier University. Contact us at

We are grateful for the support of the British Association for Victorian Studies, the British Society for Literature and Science, and the Centre for Literature and Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.