1818-2018 – the silent revolution: of fears, folly & the female
Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon
5 November 2018
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
Image: Julia Margaret Cameron|Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
In 2018 we celebrate events which took place two hundred years ago: the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the birth of Emily Brontë. While the two events are markedly different, as the former is a tangible work of art and the latter more of a promise of what was to come, both have contributed to challenge and change the conceptions and perceptions of the time, thus performing a silent, subtle revolution in the world of letters.
Shelley and Brontë are mostly famous for one novel each, but these novels have helped shape Western imagination and literature, as they arguably ‘disclose uncommon powers of poetic imagination’, as Walter Scott said a propos Shelley’s oeuvre [Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 2 (March 1818)].
By focusing on characters who do not belong anywhere – ‘I am an unfortunate and deserted creature; I look around, and I have no relation or friend upon earth’ (Shelley, 2004: 160) and ‘Not a soul knew to whom it [Heathcliff] belonged’ (Brontë, 1965: 78) –, both novels seem to question the hegemonic discourse of the time. As such, their global appeal may precisely reside in their radical difference and ‘unbelonging’ (Rushdie, 2013), which, paradoxically, make them potential sites for multiple identifications – the female, the savage, the foreigner.
This conference brings the two female authors together, for their œuvres, as different as they are, may shed light on a topic that resonates nowadays – how gender impacts on authorship, imagination, and a sense of humanity. If, as Woolf claims, ‘women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man as twice its natural size’ (Woolf, 2000: 45), is it entirely possible that women authors have resorted to the misshapen, dark, monstrous Other as alter egos of their own perception of themselves and their place in society?
The conference wishes to be a locus of celebration and discussion, both by placing the authors in the context of their time (coeval artists and ideas), and by displacing them and investigating their impact on literature and other media (music, cinema, videogames, etc.). By rereading the works critically in the context of a 200-hundred-year time lapse, the conference aims to look at the texts as clues ‘to how we live, how we have been living, how we have been led to imagine ourselves, how our language has trapped as well as liberated us, how the very act of naming has been till now a male prerogative, and how we can begin to see and name – and therefore live – afresh’ (Rich, 1979: 35).
Brontë, Emily (1965), Wuthering Heights, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Rich, Adrienne (1979), ‘When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision’, On Lies. Secrets, and Silence. Selected Prose 1966-1978, New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, pp. 33-49.
Rushdie, Salman (2013), Joseph Anton, London: Vintage.
Shelley, Mary (2004), Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, London: Collector’s Library.
Woolf, Virginia (2000), A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas, Oxford and New York: OUP.
Papers on the following topics are welcome:
- Male privilege in literature: revising concepts of authority and authorship
- Female gaze and the imagination
- 19th-century language, gender and cultural filters
- Concepts of human being, humanity, humanness and ‘technogenesis’
- Displacement and replacement as male anxieties
- 1st-person narration: giving voice and / or visibility to ghosts, monsters and waifs
- The impact of Shelly and Brontë in English-speaking and world literature
- Pseudonymity and power
- The monster within: representations of (female) fear and folly in literature
- ‘Savagery’ at the heart of Europe and the ideal of la mission civilisatrice
- Siting contestation: literature on progress and knowledge
- Is Gothic literature female?
- Translating ‘strangeness’ into different languages and / or media
- The afterlife of Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights in art and pop culture
- Fandom and the Gothic experience
Luísa Leal Faria (Universidade Católica Portuguesa)
Marie Mulvey-Roberts (University of the West of England – Bristol)
The conference languages are English and Portuguese. Speakers should prepare for a 20-minute presentation followed by questions. Please send a 250-word abstract, as well as a brief biographical note (100 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30.
Proposals should list the paper title, name, institutional affiliation, and contact details. Notification of abstract acceptance or rejection will take place by July 30.
Daniela Agostinho (Københavns Universitet)
Jorge Bastos da Silva (Universidade do Porto)
Rita Faria (Universidade Católica Portuguesa)
Cátia Ferreira (Universidade Católica Portuguesa)
João Ferreira Duarte (Universidade de Lisboa)
Luana Freitas (Universidade do Ceára)
Joyce Goggin (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Angela Locatelli (Università degli Studi di Bergamo)
Rogério Miguel Puga (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Maria Sequeira Mendes (Universidade de Lisboa)
Early bird (by September 15):
Participants – 100€
Students (ID required) — 50€
After September 15 and no later than October 15:
Participants – 120€
Students (ID required) – 70€
The registration fee includes coffee breaks, lunch, as well as all conference documentation.
By bank transfer:
IBAN PT50 0033 0000 0017 0134 1210 5 SWIFT BCOMPTPL
By check made out to:
Universidade Católica Portuguesa
and sent to:
Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Cultura
a/c Elisabete Carvalho
Universidade Católica Portuguesa
Faculdade de Ciências Humanas
Palma de Cima
1649-023 Lisboa Portugal
Please send payment notification (in case of online payment) or a copy of the bank transfer document to the above email.