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Durham University

The Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies

Victorian Interdisciplinarity International Conference 2018 

Conference Date: 12 May 2018

Hosts: Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies & Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies

Location: Cosins Hall & Divinity House, Palace Green, Durham.

Organising Committee: Rosemary Mitchell, Efram Sera-Shriar (Leeds Trinity University); Bennett Zon (Durham University); Helen Kingstone (University of Glasgow)

Keynote speaker: Gowan Dawson (University of Leicester)

*Register for this event through the online form at the bottom of this page*

Victorian Interdisciplinarity International Conference 2018

Durham University

Conference Date: 12 May 2018

CfP Deadline: 16 March 2018

Hosts: Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies & Durham University Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies

Organising Committee: Rosemary Mitchell, Efram Sera-Shriar (Leeds Trinity University); Bennett Zon (Durham University); Helen Kingstone (University of Glasgow)

Keynote speaker: Gowan Dawson (University of Leicester)

The Victorian Interdisciplinarity project combines expertise at Durham University and Leeds Trinity University to build upon a current project called Victorian Culture and the Origin of Disciplines, led by cultural historian Bennett Zon (Durham) and historian of science Bernard Lightman (York University, Canada). Begun at Durham’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, that project explored factors underpinning the coalescence of modern disciplines, while problematizing conventional notions of disciplinary crystallization and exposing deep channels of interdisciplinary interaction.

Led by a combination of scholars at Durham and Leeds Trinity, including cultural historians Helen Kingstone and Rosemary Mitchell, historian of science Efram Sera-Shriar and Bennett Zon, Victorian Interdisciplinarity extends this project by focusing on the dynamics of interdisciplinary interaction in the formation and promulgation of individual disciplines. It tests the nature of Victorian Britain’s interdisciplinary project by probing mutual implications in the genesis of arts and sciences, including hard and soft sciences, social sciences, humanities and performing arts. These topics are reflected in three main events comprising two separate workshops: Victorian Disciplinarity and the Arts (Saturday 25 November 2017, Durham); Victorian Disciplinarity and the Sciences (Friday 23 February 2018, Leeds Trinity); and an international conference (Saturday 12 May 2018, Durham). Related events are also being planned, including a CNCS workshop and guest lecture led by Bernard Lightman, and activities at Leeds Trinity.

According to Joe Moran ‘interdisciplinarity’ provides a democratic, dynamic and co-operative alternative to the old-fashioned, inward-looking and cliquish nature of disciplines. And yet this straightforward interpretation begs a number of questions: how exactly does interdisciplinary research aspire to be warm, mutually developing, consultative? Can disciplinary divisions be so easily broken down or transcended? Is it not inevitable that there should be some means of ordering and structuring knowledge?’ (Interdisciplinarity, 2011)

This project seeks to probe the ways Victorian ordered and structured knowledge by viewing their intellectual landscape as non-disciplinary. Testing modern disciplinary and interdisciplinary configurations of professional disciplinary coalescence, Victorian Interdisciplinarity draws upon the methodology underpinning Peter Bowler’s transformative concept of the non-Darwinian revolution. While Bowler argues that Victorian evolutionary ideas failed to produce crystalized ideological hegemonies, Victorian Interdisciplinarity proffers a transformative disciplinary landscape in constant flux – effectively a non-disciplinary revolution.

Within discussions of interdisciplinarity the Arts and Science have tended to reflect C.P. Snow’s dichotomous concept of Two Cultures. This project synthesises rather than separates our methodological insights to produce a holistic and comprehensive understanding of Victorian interdisciplinarity.

  • How was Victorian knowledge organized – is it disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, or even non-disciplinary?
  • Is interdisciplinarity a legitimate concept to apply to Victorian disciplinary interrelationships? What were the politics of disciplinary borders, and how did they facilitate/impede interdisciplinarity?
  • What were the processes, practices, mechanisms, discourses, and publication modes of Victorian interdisciplinarity?
  • What role did individuals and networks (such as learned societies) play in the coalescence of Victorian interdisciplinarity?
  • What were the counter-trends working against disciplinary formations, and what caused them – e.g. tensions between elite and popular practitioners and forms, or peripheral/provincial vs central locations; issues of gender, class, and ethnicity/race; religion; rural and urban; colonial, imperial and global/transnational dimensions of knowledge?
  • How can studying Victorian interdisciplinary help to inform the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity for us today?

Conference Venue

Registration for the conference will take place at The Institute for Advanced Study at Cosins Hall, Palace Green. Some sessions will take place in the Department of Music in Divinity House on Palace Green.


09:30-10.00 | Registration + welcome

10.00-11.30 | Session 1: Edges

1A (Location: Institute of Advanced Study)

Mark Llewellyn (Cardiff University)

Undisciplinarity as Method: Or, Gladstone in the Tin Tabernacle

Clare Stainthorp (Cardiff University)

Unity and synthesis: Constance Naden as interdisciplinary thinker

Alice Jenkins (University of Glasgow)

Lit and Phils Between Disciplines

1B (Location: Lecture Room, Divinity House)

Bennett Zon (Durham University)

All Arts Constantly Aspire Towards the Condition of Musicology’: Victorian Musicology as Interdiscipline

Ryan Nutting (University of Leicester)

‘The Collection is divided into two sections’: The Ordering of Knowledge at the Horniman Free Museum

Efram Sera-Shriar (Leeds Trinity University)

Anthropology on the Fringe: Andrew Lang's Spirit Investigations

11.30-12.00 | Coffee/Tea

12:00-13:00 | Session 2: Displays

2A (Location: Institute of Advanced Study)

Rachel Bryant Davies (Durham University)

‘Requisite foreknowledge’: Interdisciplinarity and Classical Burlesque Theatre

Helen Kingstone (University of Glasgow)

‘First, climb to the roof’: finding overview in panorama paintings and contemporary history'

2B (Location: Lecture Room, Divinity House)

Pola Durajska (The University of York)

Victorian Physics and the Landscape Sketches of Frederic Leighton

Olly Teregulova (Durham University)

Conversations with Insects: Beyond the Discipline of Humanity in the Short Stories of H. G. Wells

13:00-14:00 | Lunch

14:00-15.30 | Session 3: Boundaries

3A (Location: Institute of Advanced Study)

Renata Miller (The City University of New York)

The Victorians and the Interdisciplinary Novel

Tracy Hayes (independent researcher)

‘A man who used to notice such things’: How Thomas Hardy's Interdisciplinary Program of Knowledge Acquirement Informed his Representations of Victorian Masculinities

Kees De Vries (University of Groningen)

Between Music and Poetry: Music Transmitting Knowledge in the Short Stories and Poems of Oscar Wilde

3B (Location: Lecture Room, Divinity House)

Kate Newey (University of Exeter)

What is Acting? Craft, Art, or Discipline?

Bruno Bower (independent researcher)

Missing Links in Victorian Social Networks: a Potential Route to Understanding Polymathy

Rosemary Mitchell (Leeds Trinity University)

Border Reivers? Women Historians and the English Historical Review in the Late Victorian and Edwardian Period

3C (Location: Concert Room, Divinity House)

Valerie Sanders (University of Hull)

Harriet's Martineau on men's health

Harriet Newnes (Lancaster University)

Herbert Spencer, Nineteenth-Century Interdisciplinarity, and the Classification of Scientific Thought

J. C. Jones (Federation University Australia)

The thermal sciences and fuel technology in Dickens’ work

15.30-16:00 | Coffee/Tea

16:00-17:00 | Gowan Dawson

17:00-17.45 | Roundtable

18.00-18.45 | Wine reception

19:00- | Informal dinner

Hosted by CNCS and Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies

Saturday 12 May 2018

Institute of Advanced Study at Cosins Hall and Music Department at Divinity House, Palace Green
Durham University

Victorian Interdisciplinarity Registration Form
Hosted by CNCS and Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies Saturday 12 May 2018 Institute of Advanced Study at Cosins Hall and Music Department at Divinity House, Palace Green Durham University

e.g. Enya Doyle, Durham University 


If no dietary requirements, please write 'none.'