Submarine telegraph cable (Hunterian Museum) Programme: ‘Victorian Forms and Formations’

The world is full of crystals. Swift, or slow,
Or dark, or bright their varying formation;
From pure calm heights of fair untrodden snow
To fire-wrought depths of earliest creation.
And life is full of crystals; forming still
In myriad-shaped results from good and seeming ill.
       Frances Ridley Havergal, ‘Life-Crystals’ from The Poetical Works

The 2010 BAVS conference seeks to address the question of ‘form’, in all its varied meanings, in Victorian culture. We invite papers that address the topic of literary form, and that engage with current debates in the field over the return to form in literary criticism, but also wish to broaden the topic to encompass forms and formations in other disciplines, including but not limited to art history, science, architecture, politics, religion and history of the book. Papers might consider the role of different social and political groupings and institutions in the Victorian period, or the formation of a particular idea or discipline. They might deal with wide-ranging debates over varied attempts at reform in the nineteenth century, or could focus on the formation or reformation of the individual. Papers considering material forms, including the fashioning of the body in medical and other discourse, are welcome, as are papers on the physical features of the Victorian landscape: urban and rural spaces, natural forms and the built environment. We also invite papers that are concerned with the reworking of Victorian forms in twentieth and twenty-first century literature and culture.

Plenary speakers

On the very first evening I met her, she deplored to me the deficiency of her education, and asked me in so many words to aid her in the formation of her mind.      

Rhoda Broughton, Belinda, chapter 13