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Victorians Institute 2008
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Victorians Institute Journal

Rare Books & Special Collections at Thomas Cooper Library


The Victorians Institute, 2008
Inconvenient Facts, Shocking Discoveries, Surprising Events, Forgotten Voices, Unknown Writings, Mangled Texts

University of South Carolina, Columbia
October 3-4, 2008

jugglersWhat would Victorian studies be like if we took seriously the discoveries that don't fit in?  Most active Victorianists come across in their research inconvenient facts, haunting or strange incidents or people or passages that if taken seriously would disrupt or complicate the versions of Victorianism our colleagues or editors or students have come to expect.  For this year's Institute, we sought papers that report such disruptive discoveries, on many authors and aspects of Victorian culture, and which explain in what ways the discovery upsets conventional professional expectations--proposals grounded in some specific but unanticipated Victorian oddity, strangeness, quirk, scandal, or outrage; in some unknown or little-known piece of writing by an author we all know too well; in a long-ignored writer; or in a long misprinted or misread passage or text.  The 2008 planning committee includes Patrick Scott, William B. Thesing, Anthony Jarrells, and Rebecca Stern, with Maria LaMonaca (Columbia College).  

Keynote Speaker: We welcome as this year's keynote speaker Ian Duncan, of the University of California at Berkeley, speaking on "The Great Book of Nature: the Novel and the Science of Man."  Ian Duncan's publications include Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: the Gothic, Scott, and Dickens (1992), Scott's Shadow: the Novel in Romantic Edinburgh (2007), and editions or essays on Scott, Hogg, Dickens, Ruskin, Borrow, Darwin, Conan Doyle, and others.  This year's keynote address will be on Friday, not Saturday.

Special Sessions and Events:  Along with a full range of regular sessions, the program also includes a reception and library exhibit opening ("The Shapes of Victorian Literature") on Friday; the conference lunch on Saturday; a special session marking republication by the University of South Carolina Press of a long-lost and highly original Victorian novel, William North’s The City of the Jugglers, or, Free-Trade in Souls (1850); and an opportunity to meet the editors of three Victorian scholarly journals. 

Program participation: the deadline for submitting proposals is now past.  Inquiries or offers to chair panels should be emailed to Patrick Scott at

Program: the full program is not yet available.  When available, it will be linked here.

Registration: to register, please print out the registration form linked here, and mail to Patrick Scott, Victorians Institute, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.  Registration includes the reception, luncheon, and membership in the Institute, with Victorians Institute Journal.  A reduced preregistration rate applies to registrations received by September 17.

Friday evening dinner groups: Some participants will know friends or colleagues with whom they plan to eat out on Friday evening after the reception. For those who are new to the Institute or wish to widen their Victorian acquaintance, Rebecca Stern will be arranging dinner groups of six to eight.  See registration form.

Location, Parking:  Most events (beginning about 10:30 a.m. on Friday October 3 and concluding about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday October 4) will be held in Thomas Cooper Library, near the centre of campus.  For those staying away from the campus, the nearest visitor parking is in the upper levels of the Bull St garage,  immediately east of the library: enter by driving up Bull St from Blossom St, or down Bull St from Greene St, and then turning at the stop sign to go along the uphill side of the garage towards the entrance nearest the library.

Hotel Reservations: Rooms have been reserved at the recently-renovated Courtyard by Marriott (Downtown at USC), 620 Assembly St, Columbia, close by the library.  To get the conference rate, book by September 3 and say you are attending the Victorians Institute (  or tel: 1-803-799-7800; be sure to specify the Courtyard Downtown, as other Marriott hotels are at a distance).  The hotel runs a shuttle from Columbia Metropolitan Airport.  Other nearby hotels include the Inn at USC (Pendleton St and Pickens), Claussen's Inn (Greene St near Five Points), and the Clarion Town House (Gervais St at Pickens).   For more information, click here.

The Victorians Institute: Founded in 1971, and sponsoring its own journal, Victorians Institute Journal, since 1972, the Victorians Institute has grown into a major annual forum for Victorian studies, attracting participants not only from its original home region in the mid-Atlantic and south-east, but nationally and internationally.  For further information, see