Conferences: Bennett, Middlebrows and Kipling

Some interesting conferences are coming up later in the year.

The annual Arnold Bennett conference in Stoke is on June 11th, and this year  celebrates the centenary of what must be one of the most enjoyable novels of the past hundred years – The Card. I should like to have attended, and maybe even to have given a paper on a theme I’ve been thinking about lately – Bennett as celebrant of capitalism. Does any other novelist show such relish for what can be achieved through the intelligent and imaginative use of money?  Unfortunately the conference happens on a weekend when I shall be celebrating a more local centenary – my mother-in-law’s hundredth birthday. We’ll be having a big family do for that, and literature, I’m afraid, will have to take second place.

On 15-16 September, there is an interesting-looking conference at the Institute of English Studies, London: The Popular Imagination and the Dawn of Modernism:Middlebrow Writing 1890-1930. This aims to look at the relationship between the modernists and the middlebrows, from a variety of angles, and should be well worth attending.

On October 21-22 there will be a conference on the subject of Rudyard Kipling: an International Writer, once again at the Institute of English Studies, London. This will be a wide-ranging event, and papers are invited on any of the following themes:

  • Travels and travel writing
  • Anglo-American relationships
  • Anglo-Indian journalism
  • War journalism and propaganda
  • Inter-colonial networks
  • Imperialism and cosmopolitanism
  • Kipling’s writing on India, and other colonies
  • Dislocation and returning: exiles, immigrants, expatriates
  • Islam and other world religions
  • Jews and Anti-Semitism
  • Kipling and Freemasonry
  • Englishness and place
  • The literature of modern technology
  • The sea and sailors
  • Postcolonial responses to Kipling
  • Kipling’s place in modernism and other international literary movements
  • Intertextuality and literary traditions
  • The literature of ‘other’ places (France, Scandinavia, Japan, etc.)

If it’s anything like as good as the 2007 Kipling conference at Canterbury, this will be first-rate. The deadline for paper proposals is 31st March.

In addition, this autumn, Tim Kendall of the War Poetry blog is organising a  conference about one of his other great enthusiasms – William Golding – in Cornwall from 16-18 September.  Like my mother-in-law and The Card , William Golding entered this world in 1911. Golding is a writer I just don’t get on with though.  I don’t think I could face three days of him, so I don’t think I’ll join the party, even to heckle. Anyway, it clashes with the Dawn of Modernism.



  1. Posted February 15, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Oh George! Why not attend the middlebrow conference, then get on the train to Truro. You’ll have missed virtually nothing. There are worse places to be than Cornwall in September. But bring your boxing gloves!

  2. Posted February 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    No, I think I can resist Truro.
    But I’ve just had notification that the paper I proposed for the Dawn of Modernism conference has been accepted. It’s called: “‘Terse as virulent hermaphrodites’: middlebrow representations of modernist poets in the 1920s”
    The title phrase comes from one of Noel Coward’s ‘Whittlebot’ poems – a parody of Edith Sitwell.

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