This working group, intended for the 2018 MLA Convention in New York, seeks participants investigating “race” in the Victorian period as a complex, contested concept rather than a self-evident and/or monolithic term referring primarily to colonized peoples.
The goals of the group include integrating conversations about race and Empire with those about race in the metropole; thinking through complex relationships between race and other identity categories in the nineteenth century; examining representations of race in a wide variety of genres, registers, and texts; and thinking about the implications of these conversations both for how we theorize and write about race and how we design courses and talk about Victorian race in our classrooms.
[Please note: the new MLA Working Group format includes 8-12 participants, who will have 2 or 3 scheduled meetings over the course of the convention, for working conversations about papers/issues that have been submitted in advance. Conversation will also be available leading up to the convention, and afterwards, on a group discussion board on MLA Commons. The goals are to collaborate, move forward works-in-progress, and facilitate longer-term conversations.]
If this working group is accepted for the MLA Convention, we intend to use the MLA Commons to facilitate the following:
- a discussion board among participants, for ongoing conversations about research as well as pedagogy;
- a Resource Page that includes original works-in-progress;
- collaborative annotated bibliographies of relevant primary texts and secondary sources.
During the working-group sessions, organizers are hoping to address questions of what was meant by “race” in the Victorian period; how we might productively expand our theorizing of race in the period; and where we might look to find primary texts not only for our own research but to bring into our classrooms to expand students’ understandings of race in the period.
Topics of interest for the working group include but are not limited to:
- Visual and textual representations of race, including comparisons between genres and media
- Intersections of race with nationality, gender, class
- Scientific racism; race theory in Ethnology, Phrenology, and Anthropology; monogenism v. polygenism; race and theories of evolution
- Race in the anti-slavery movement
- Conceptions of “whiteness”
- Racialization of Roma, Jewish, Islamic, Asian, and Irish peoples
- Victoria’s personal and political relationships with imperial subjects
- People of color in Britain or racial diversity within British cities
- Writing by non-white voices; white British authors writing non-white voices
- Race and capitalism; race and philanthropy
- “Natives” and indigenous peoples
- Fears of miscegenation
- Migrations within empire
- Contemporary legacies of 19thC paradigms
Proposals for participation in this working group should include a one-page abstract/statement of interest, including information about a project on which you are working and/or goal(s) you might have for your participation in the group, plus a brief CV.
Proposals are due Friday, March 24 to the organizers of the working group, who will submit the group proposal to the MLA by the April 1 deadline: