Global Victorians: When East Meets West
Each society imagines the other based on its own social, political, religious and ethical tradition, spiritual paradigms, and perspectives on humanity and the world. The description of foreigners touches on the things that are most intrinsic and most fundamental to any society or culture. “A society’s view of foreigners may at times be one of disinterest, or curiosity, or rapturous approval, or unjust condescension or hatred. But the reasons for this infatuation or repulsion are in themselves always enlightening.” (J. Gernet,1994). The problematic term “Oriental” abounds fascinating arguments, and have already developed into an established school in post-colonial studies since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978). It seems that the Western images in Eastern context, however, comparatively received less scholarly attention. Therefore, while exploring the Asian images in the long 19th-century art and literature, this conference also wishes to address a reversed gaze at the “exotic” Occidental Other to present that such intercultural exchanges between the two are in fact mutual. The Victorian style is also a major commercial inspiration in the creative industry in the 21st century. The increasingly popular Neo-Victorian trend in films and fashion arena is encouraging an examination of such “exotic” images in a modern interpretation.
This event aims to create a multi-disciplinary forum where Victorianists and scholars interested in material culture of the Victorian era, in general, to discuss different approaches to study the cultural interchanges between the two sides of the globe – with a focus on East and South East Asia – within the framework of the long 19th century and its legacy in the 21st, highlighting the interconnections between the “Oriental” and the “Occidental”.