Proposals are invited for papers exploring the theme of abnormality in the nineteenth century, for a one-day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference run by the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies. The deadline for abstracts is 16th January 2015; the conference will take place on 7th May 2015, with a keynote by Professor Martin Willis.
The words ‘abnormal’ and ‘abnormality’ first emerged in the nineteenth century; contemporary usage reflects their pejorative connotations.
The first recorded use, in 1817, contrasts ‘abnormal’ with ‘healthy’, suggesting that ‘abnormality’ was initially a medical term. In medical discourse it became an ostensibly objective descriptor – in 1847 The Lancet defined abnormality as ‘something that is abnormal; an instance of irregularity.
However, the term eventually came to mean an aberration from any kind of ‘normal’ concept, behaviour, expectation, or way of being: indeed, the construction of ‘normal,’ and the values associated with normality, is itself implicated in nineteenth century constructions of the abnormal.
This one-day interdisciplinary conference aims to explore categorisations, explanations, and implications of abnormality in the long nineteenth century, asking what the abnormal can tell us about long nineteenth century constructions of aberration, deviancy, and normality.
We warmly invite proposals for 20-minute papers from postgraduates of all disciplines and stages. Please send abstracts (max. 300 words) with a title and a contact email address, as a Word or .pdf document, to the conference organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject heading ‘CNCS PG Conference: Abnormality’.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Measuring and/or quantifying (ab)normality
- Degeneration of behaviour and race
- Abnormality as/and spectacle
- Decadence, deviance and abnormal tastes
- Imperialistic perceptions of the ‘other’
- Locating & segregating the abnormal
The deadline for submission is 16 January 2015. The conference is organised by the Postgraduate Representatives for the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Durham University. For more information see the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies website.