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‘Strange New Today’ Conference

Written by Mike Butler, 6th September 2011

The Reader Organisation's Director Jane Davis, our research colleague at the University of Liverpool, Dr Josie Billington, and The Reader magazine's editor, Professor Phil Davis will be talking at the 'Strange New Today' Victorian Studies conference at Exeter University on September 17th.

Jane and Josie will hold a discussion on crisis, Victorian literature and “the reading cure”, and will highlight the informative and remedial value of Victorian literature for working through social, cultural, and psychological crises.

In 'The Victorians' Phil Davis identifies the realist novel as a ‘holding ground’ for the complex emotional and psychological concerns which emerged from rapid industrial and social change.  Through literature, and the public nature of the periodical press, authors and thinkers found a new medium of expression – reading and writing became remedial aids in times of difficulty. Such intellectual productivity, coupled with the desire to explore new emotional, social and psychological territories, caused these dramas of discovery to be played out in the very hearts and homes of the public.

This English Nation, will it get to know the meaning of its strange new today?

- Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present

The conference will be held in collaboration with The Reader Organisation and will explore what Victorian literature can tell us about the society in which it was produced and how it continues to enrich and comfort the lives of readers today.

Any queries regarding the conference can be directed to

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