A panel discussion on 'Amy Levy and Controversy,' with Richa Dwor (Leicester), Naomi Hetherington (Birkbeck), Nadia Valman (QMUL), and Ana Parejo Vadillo (Birkbeck), will follow on Monday 20 May 2013 from 7:40-9:00pm in the Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square.
Richa Dwor: 'Amy Levy and Emotions'
This paper offers a new perspective on Jewishness in Levy's work by considering her engagement with the emotions. Reading works like Reuben Sachs in a tradition of midrash a rabbinic form which uses allegory to unearth or invent correct feelings associated with codes of law highlights new categories of emotional experience during the nineteenth century. I will investigate whether Levy assimilates dominant Victorian modes of affect or if, rather, she draws on epistemological and emotional possibilities presented by Jewish tradition. This complicates ongoing controversy regarding Levy's representations of Jewishness as a strictly racial inheritance.
Naomi Hetherington: 'Amy Levy and the Recovery of the Anglo-Jewish Woman Writer'
A Jewish woman of letters, a feminist and a lesbian, Amy Levy (1861-1889) has held a particular fascination for scholars interested in recovering writers who have traditionally been marginalised from the literary mainstream. But how far has a desire to reclaim Levy for these different literary positionings shaped the ways in which her life and work have been understood? Focusing on Levy's identity and significance as an Anglo-Jewish woman novelist, I examine one of the first attempts to recuperate her for the Anglo-Jewish community following the hostile reception of her Jewish novel Reuben Sachs (1888) and her subsequent suicide, and ask what we can learn about the process and politics of literary recovery through the ways in which her life and work were constructed in and through one another.
Nadia Valman: 'Amy Levy and the Language of Race'
While Amy Levy has been rightly celebrated for her courageous critique of the forces constraining women's lives among the Victorian middle-class, her writing strikes its most uncomfortable note when that critique is extended to Jews. Levy's language, in her novels and journalism, draws on the fin-de-siècle language of race in ways that provoked controversy in her day and remain a source of contention among scholars. I will examine some of Levy's racial representations and consider how far she replicates and how far she challenges the antisemitic stereotypes of her time.
Eugenia Gonzalez (Birkbeck) will be presenting on 'Victorian Dolls and Material Play' on Tuesday 21 May 2013 from 7:30-9:00pmin Room 124, 43 Gordon Square. This presentation explores the Victorian fascination with the doll and the various ways in which this most fraught and symbolic of objects was brought to life in literary and cultural texts of the period. It will consider the doll's didactic and imaginative uses and what its persistent animation can tell us about Victorian attitudes towards childhood, imagination and the material world.
Please join us for our Arts Week sessions. For those interested, please feel free to come for dinner at Carluccio's with the speakers after their talks.
Future Forum events include:
'On Cosmopolitanism:' Seminar with Stefano Evangelista (Oxford), Alex Murray (Exeter), and Matthew Potolsky (Utah) Thursday 30 May 2013, 6:00-8:00pm
Alison Booth (Virginia): 'A Network of Trollopes, an Italy of Women: Historical Biography, Nationhood, and Events' Monday 10 June 2013, 6:00-8:00pm
Unless otherwise noted, all sessions take place in the Keynes Library (Room 114, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London, UK, WC1H 0PD). All sessions are free and welcome to the public.
For more information, please visit the website at: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/english/our-research/research_cncs/our-events/birkbeck-forum-for-nineteenth-century-studies-summer-term-2013