Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference

University of Texas at Austin 25-27 March 2010


Hosted on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, the 2010 INCS Conference will take place 25-27 March at the new AT&T Conference Center. Focusing on the theme of “Family/Resemblance,” sessions will consider how both family and resemblance were conceived/constructed in the 19th century from multiple interdisciplinary perspectives, including and/or integrating Literature (British, French, German, Spanish, American), History, Art History, Gender Studies, Law, Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, Music, Economics, and Religion.

In keeping with the INCS Conference format, all papers will be posted on a password-protected website in early March so participants can read them beforehand. (Instructions and link for posting 8-10 page papers coming soon.) Presenters will give brief, 5-7-minute overviews of their papers (in whatever form they choose—including PowerPoint, reading 2-3 pages, offering a telling example, etc.) and the rest of the session will be devoted to group discussion engaging both the audience and the panelists. We have found that lively, thought-provoking, even exhilarating conversation ensues not only in the sessions, but throughout the conference.

Conference highlights include:

*Thursday 25 March: Organized tours of the Harry Ransom Center rare books and manuscripts collections at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 pm. [Numbers are limited; please contact to sign up.]

*Thursday evening screening and panel discussion of A Regular Black: The Hidden History of Wuthering Heights, a short documentary film, produced by historian Cassandra Pybus and directed by award-winning director, Adam Low for Lone Star productions in the UK. Drawing on recent research, the film interrogates the ambiguities of Emily Brontë’s classic novel to tease out themes of slavery and miscegenation that are coded into the text. The film poses tantalizing questions about Brontë’s brooding anti-hero Heathcliff: What is his role in and relationship to the Earnshaw family? Is he racially “other” and what is his actual status? Why does he have only one name? Is he Earnshaw’s kin, or their slave property, or perhaps both? How does he make his quick fortune? Why is he so angry and vengeful? The visually stunning film locates Brontë’s narrative in the Dentdale region of the North Yorkshire, home to the slave-trading Sill family whose history strangely parallels that of the Earnshaw family in Brontë’s novel. It features commentary by writer and critic Caryl Phillips, historian Iain McCalman, and local historians, Melinda Elder and Kim Lyon.  Panel discussion following the screening led by producer Cassandra Pybus (University of Sydney) with University of Texas faculty Barbara Harlow (English), James Sidbury (History), Jennifer Wilks (English), and Helena Woodard (English).

*Friday 26 March: Plenary talk Adultery: The Limits of Representation, presented by Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Professor of Art History at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and author of Photography at the Dock: Essays on Photographic History, Institutions, and Practices (1991); Male Trouble: A Crisis in Representation (1997); and The Face of Difference: Gender, Race, and the Politics of Self-Representation (forthcoming).

*Saturday 27 March: Plenary talk, Sound and Semblance: Why Rhyme? presented by Elizabeth Helsinger, John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago, and author of Ruskin and the Art of the Beholder (1982); Rural Scenes and National Representation, Britain 1815-1850 (1997); Poetry and the Pre-Raphaelite Arts: William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (2008); and The Writing of Modern Life: The Etching Revival in France, Britain, and the US, 1850-1940 (2008).

*Two special sessions considering Mary Jean Corbett’s Family Likeness: Sex, Marriage, and Incest from Jane Austen to Virginia Woolf (Cornell UP). Participants will include Karen Chase, Nancy Henry, Margaret Markwick, Susan Morgan, Deborah Denenholz Morse, John Plotz, Robert Polhemus, and Suzanne Raitt.

*Saturday evening reception at the HRC

All events will take place at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the University of Texas campus. Rooms are reserved at a special conference rate of $159 a night for single or double occupancy. The new facility includes an outdoor lap pool, fitness center, free wi-fi, and easy access to the university, the HRC, and downtown Austin. The block of rooms will only be held until 22 February 2010. To make a reservation, go to or call 1-877-744-8822 (M-F, 8-5) and enter/give the conference code INCSST0310 (6 letters, 4 numbers).

All participants in the conference must be current members of INCS. To join or renew your membership, please visit the INCS website at