Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century (CfP, Edge Hill University, 13-14 September 2018)

 

This two-day interdisciplinary conference examines the changing roles of drugs and chemical substances in the history, literature and medical discourses of the long nineteenth century. Speakers include Professor Susan Zieger, University of California Riverside, Dr Noelle Plack, Newman University and Dr Douglas Small, University of Glasgow.

‘The body (follow me closely here) lies at the mercy of the most omnipotent of all potentates – the Chemist’ – Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1859)

In The Woman in White Collins’s villainous Count Fosco expounds on the power of modern pharmacology. Fosco is speaking at the mid-point of a century wherein the body and the mind seemed increasingly easily affected by the influence of substances. From 1821 opium had allowed Thomas de Quincey to explore ‘the palimpsest of the human mind’ and navigate the dream space of the human subconscious. Ether and chloroform banished pain and facilitated new surgical innovations. Stimulants and sedatives regulated waking and sleeping and the working day in between. Reports of alcoholism, addiction and criminality appeared with increasing regularity in the periodical press and featured in the plots of new literary genres like the sensation novel and the detective story.

Proposals are invited for 15-20 minute papers or panels on any aspect of the conference theme. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Addiction and excess: Alcohol, tobacco, opiates, cocaine, ether, chloroform and other compounds
  • Psychoactive substances, hallucinogenics, pharmacology
  • New drug treatments, therapies, medical technologies, pain and pain management
  • Concepts of stimulation and sedation
  • Drugs and creativity
  • Drugs and criminality
  • Substances and the media: celebrity culture, advertising
  • Thomas de Quincey, Coleridge, Keats, Wilkie Collins, L. T. Meade, Conan Doyle
  • Novels, sensation fiction, and literature as addiction
  • Gendered representations of substance use
  • Aphrodisiacs, appetite and their suppressants
  • Substances and the military, empire, trade, war
  • Neo-Romantic or Neo-Victorian representations of substance use

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words together with a brief bio to the conference organisers by 21st May.

We are delighted to be able to award a number of postgraduate bursaries. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please include a 200-word explanation about how the conference relates to your research, along with a breakdown of your expenses.

Please see our website for more information.

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