Study Day – Victorian Popular Collaborations
Co-hosted by Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Manchester Metropolitan University
Manchester Metropolitan University, Cheshire Campus
22 April 2017
Keynote: ‘Collaborating with the Dead: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Borrowed Prestige’ Patricia Pulham (University of Portsmouth)
Roundtable: ‘Teaching Victorian Popular Collaboration’ led by Study Day Organisers Kirsty Bunting, MMU, and Janine Hatter, Hull
“Collaboration is one of the literary features of our age, and at the present rate of progression there seems to be some prospect of it attaining alarming proportions in the future” (Walter Besant, ‘Guide to Matrimony’ in the St. Valentine’s edition of Hearth and Home, 1892)
This VPFA Study Day asks whether it is possible to understand the full complexity of the nineteenth-century literary tradition without acknowledging that, as the result of the expansion of the literary marketplace, there was a marked proliferation of collaborative modes of writing. Across the century co-authorship, multiple authorship and networks of collaborators of all kinds became increasingly common and visible.
Nineteenth-century commentators like Besant, as well as recent critics, have argued that the literary marketplace underwent a re-evaluation of its inherited constructs of authorship, testing the idea of the ‘Romantic’ mode of Authority, which valorised writing as a solitary endeavour and celebrated the Author as the Genius-Proprietor of their text.
What is it about the surrender of the idea of the lonely, predominantly male, garret-writer which Besant, himself a prolific collaborator with co-author James Rice, found so ‘alarming’? How do we account for the growth of collaborative writing or for its popularity with readers? What problems did reading multiple authorship raise for readers? What were the benefits of writing in partnership? What were the different methodologies of shared authorship in the period? How did writing with a long-term literary partner differ from contractual or casual collaboration, say for a serial? How did serial publication, with artists and illustrators as collaborators, effect reading popular fiction? How do notions of shared, split or joint literary identities interact with the notion of the popular?
The organisers welcome proposals for 20 minutes papers that respond to these, or other topics, which may include, but are not limited to:
Registration can be found at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/victorian-popular-collaborations-tickets-27044550980.
Study Day with vegetarian buffet lunch and refreshments: £16.50
Optional Afternoon Cream Tea at The Brasserie, Crewe Hall Hotel, 5-7.30 pm (transport with 7.45pm Crewe train station drop off, included): £27