Centre for Studies in Literature

Neo-Historical Exoticism and Contemporary Fiction

CSL Annual Symposium 2011

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Professor Dianne F. Sadoff (Rutgers University, New Jersey)

The current phenomenon of the neo-Victorian, neo-Edwardian, neo-Forties, and more recently, neo-Tudor novel, seems to confirm contemporary culture's persisting fascination with re-visiting and re-formulating certain key historical moments. This interdisciplinary one-day event intends to develop critical examination of the recent trend of the 'neo-historical' novel and to bring fresh perspectives to current debates on its cultural and theoretical underpinnings. Discussion will concentrate especially on the 'exoticising' strategies employed by neo-historical fiction in its representation of one culture for consumption by another: What motivates this return to, and symbolic re-appropriation of, the past? Are certain historical periods more prone to creative re-interpretations than others? What are the implications of using a discursive practice intent on seeking elsewhere (in this case, the past) a mode of expression for the present? With the possibility of geographical escape now exhausted in our global age, has the past become the latest refuge from (post)modernity?

Neo-historical exoticism


  • Dr Maeve Tynan (University of Limerick):
    ‘Historiography and Historicity in Anne Enright’s The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch
  • Dr Tatiana Kontou (Oxford Brookes University):
    ‘The Exotic Muse: Jeanne Duval in Angela Carter’s Short Story ‘Black Venus’’
  • Joanne Bishton (University of Derby):
    ‘Popularising the Unpopular: Lesbian Representation in the Fiction of Sarah Waters’
  • Professor Dianne F. Sadoff (Rutgers University, New Jersey):
    ‘Appropriation and Contingency: Rewriting the Classic English Novel’
  • Dr Petra Rau (University of Portsmouth):
    ‘Nazi Noir: Touristic “Fascism” as Safe History’
  • Professor Georges Letissier (Université de Nantes, France):
    ‘Lawrence Norfolk’s The Pope’s Rhinoceros: Neo-Historical Teratology’
  • Dr Patricia Pulham (University of Portsmouth):
    ‘Exoticising the Renaissance: Leonardo’s Swans and the Feminisation of History’
  • Emily Hunt (University of Portsmouth):
    “Unto the third generation”: From Exotic Nostalgia to Trans-generational Trauma in John Harwood’s The Ghost Writer’
  • Dr Louisa Hadley (McGill University, Canada):
    ‘Plundering the Old Curiosity Shop: The Uses of History in Neo-Victorian Fiction’