British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 4th Biennial Symposium (December 16-17, 2019)

Registration is now open for the conference below, and the discounted rate ends on October 1st. BrANCA is able to offer a number of travel bursaries to graduate students and independent scholars. Those interested in applying for one of these should write to [email protected] for more information by October 1st.

Access to the registration page and a draft program can be found here:

Scaling the Nineteenth Century: British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 4th Biennial Symposium

The concept of the Anthropocene, with its recasting of human culture as part of much vaster realm of geological and climatological processes, has recently prompted – in the words of Mark McGurl – “the appearance of the problem of scale in modern literary history.” But over the past decade there have also been many other spurs for literary scholars to address many other problems of scale: from the challenges presented by digitization’s expansion of the accessible archive, to the re-conceptualizations demanded by a move away from the region and the nation to the Atlantic and the Oceanic, to the controversies engendered by the contest between old and new hermeneutical dispositions such as symptomatic and surface reading. Meanwhile, whatever side they have taken in these debates, all literary scholars in universities have been exposed to the growing dominance of scale, as neoliberal metrics continue to infiltrate teaching, research and administration.

These questions and concerns are not restricted to one period or one location, but nonetheless nineteenth-century America is a particularly productive time and place to take the measure of the “problem of scale.” The U.S. in the long nineteenth century was a key node, for example, in: the social, political and economic networks that fuelled industrialism’s growing dominance over nature; the growth of print and other communicative technologies into mass media; the rise of modern imperialism; and the ascendance of secular hermeneutics. This symposium offers a rich variety of historical and methodological interpretations of these (re-)scalings.