Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881): His Lives and Afterlives. Celebrating the 220th anniversary of the birth of a Victorian iconoclast
The Société Française d’Etudes Victoriennes et Edouardiennes will host its annual meeting in January 2024 at CY Cergy Paris University, organised by Prof. Catherine Marshall (AGORA research centre) in partnership with Dr. Emily Jones (the University of Manchester), Prof. Miles Taylor (the Humboldt Universität in Berlin) and Prof. Seamus Perry (Balliol College, Oxford).
“Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881): His Lives and Afterlives” is the interdisciplinary subject chosen to celebrate the 220th anniversary of the birth of a Victorian iconoclast. The Victorian Conservative Prime Minister is still perceived today as an extraordinary politician who transformed himself, his party and the UK over a long period of time from the 1830’s to his death in 1881. Forever complex, he has left a long list of speeches, novels, letters and various writings which still deserve attention and make his legacy much more challenging than just the political role he played as PM in 1868 and 1874-1880 or his well-known epic parliamentary battles with the Liberal W. E. Gladstone. Over the years, he has also been portrayed in the press, in caricatures, in plays, and, later on in the 20th century, in series and films, in various versions of a dandy, a chancer, an oriental Jew, an admirer of Queen Victoria, a wise venerable man, a romantic wit, the inspiration
for the Primrose League and many more. These portrayals have all created a Disraelian myth, often obscuring his real legacy.
The last major multidisciplinary symposium to look at Disraeli in such a way took place in Oxford on 24 March 2015. What else can be said today about the man and his myth and how do the various facets presented in 2015 help to reinterpret Disraeli in a clearer light using the work done on the Disraeli collection at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the Disraeli Project on his letters in Ontario? How too can his various unknown novels still reveal new aspects of a visionary statesman for whom life was a type of theatre.
This interdisciplinary conference hopes to attract a selection of historians, political scientists, literary scholars, specialists of Victorian culture, iconography, caricatures and paintings, experts in media and TV studies, but also translators and critical studies specialists.
The conference will aim to undercover a number of still unexplored sides of Disraeli and bring him up to date. Both his political and literary talents will be taken into account as well as the long-lasting impact of his heritage (whether mythologised or not).
The papers may focus on:
- The Conservative politician and romantic leader of the second half of the 19th century, the defender of a certain understanding of the Constitution;
- The lover of women, both in real life and in his novels;
- The outsider through his initial Jewishness, to his Anglican conversion, to his perceived orientalism;
- The religious man and writer;
- The guardian of imagination at play in politics and in his writings;
- The private man;
- The creation of his myth through cartoons, plays, films and series;
The conference will take place in France – in central Paris – on Thursday 25 & Friday 26 January 2024.
The language of the conference will be English.
Please send a title, a 300 to 500 word abstract and a 5-line biography to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org 10 June 2023 (answers given by 10 July 2023).
For any other question, please contact: email@example.com
A selection of papers will be considered for publication in Les Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens.
Organisation committee at CY Cergy Paris Université: Catherine Marshall, Balkis Mougou & Frank Rynne.