VSAO/ACCUTE Panel: ‘Victorian Inheritance’ CFP (Ottawa, May 2015)

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

2015 VSAO/ACCUTE Panel: Victorian Inheritance

University of Ottawa, 28-31 May 2015

In Book Five of Middlemarch, titled “The Dead Hand,” Mr. Casaubon’s will acts as a “promise” by which he might “keep his cold grasp on Dorothea’s life.” The power of the dead and of the past to exert control on the present is a central concern of Victorian literature and culture. Besides providing a form of narrative closure, inheritance may figure as a burden or a privilege, a “great expectation” or a surprise. The treatment of inheritance might comment on personal and familial identities, national and racial anxieties, or cultural and artistic influences. Inheritance, or the prospect of inheriting, preoccupies figures as diverse as Thackeray, whose dandies live on the prospects of their relatives’ deaths; Darwin, who establishes biological links to the past, but also considers the possibility of mutation or change through time; and Lytton Strachey, whose Eminent…

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