On 14th July 2009, members of The Reader Organisation will be taking part in an academic conference at Cambridge University. The conference – ‘Past Versus Present’ – is a joint meeting of the British Association for Victorian Studies and the North American Victorian Studies Association.
Our panel will consider: ‘The heritage that the Victorians invented for us – are we still living in a Victorian world?’
On the panel will be: Dr Jane Davis (Director of The Reader Organisation; Chair), Dr Josie Billington (University of Liverpool School of English), Professor Philip Davis (University of Liverpool School of English; editor of The Reader magazine) and Blake Morrison (author and journalist).
Metaphysically speaking, ‘our Victorian heritage’ is the difficulty of finding meaningful purpose or of knowing what to make of human experience in a post-religious age. Victorian literature, the novel especially, represented the period’s commitment to finding means of mediating, tolerating or recognizing the predicament. This panel will consider the degree to which literature does, can or should have a ‘Victorian’ role in the contemporary world in relation to the secular/religious problems of how to live which it has inherited; and it will offer The Reader Organisation, in its commitment to opening up and sharing serious literature with people for whom it might be humanly valuable, as a model for carrying forward a Victorian mission, a belief in literature, from the past into the future.
More information about the conference can be found here.