Conference: Elizabeth von Arnim — Identities (2-3 July 2019)

International Conference, University of Toulon, 2-3 July 2019

Keynote Speaker: Dr Kate Macdonald, Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire and Director of Handheld Press

 Mary Annette Beauchamp, Mary Arnim, Elizabeth, Countess Russell – during her life time Elizabeth von Arnim was known under many names, while the one we use today is a composite she never used. As an upper-middle class girl from Australia, she managed to be first a German and then an English Countess, sometimes lived in Switzerland and built her last house in Southern France, near Toulon, where the university now holds a part of her private library. Von Arnim loved guises and usually signed her books “By the Author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden”, but also wrote under the pseudonym Alice Cholmondeley and published anonymously. She enjoyed playing with different personas in life as much as in her writing as G.B. Stern remembered:

“What a devil she was, but what good company! … – delicate & ironic: qualities she would have appreciated, though she would immediately have done her specialité de la maison act, wide-eyed & innocent & what-have-I-done-poor-little-me-of-all-people. … But she used to tingle & rejoice when occasionally she met her match.”

Although all her novels share a clearly distinctive voice, von Arnim’s works are more complex and multi-faceted than the existing scholarship would suggest. The autobiographical dimension of her most popular character, Elizabeth, has been quite well explored, yet von Arnim’s books have mostly been discussed in the context of feminist literary studies and the feminine middlebrow. More recent scholarship is now also beginning to consider her as a modernist and a political writer of transnational narratives.

Yet many more aspects of her novels remain to be explored. Accordingly, we invite papers on a range of topics. Suggested topics for papers might include (but are not limited to) Elizabeth von Arnim as a writer of …

  • Conservative fiction
  • Comical novels
  • War novels
  • Political fiction
  • Novels about class
  • Plays, diaries (beyond the German Garden), letters and epistolary novels
  • Stories of mother-daughter conflicts
  • Narratives about identity and belonging
  • Texts focussed on the female body
  • Marriage problem novels
  • Novels about ageing women
  • Clerical satire
  • Nature scenes (German and Italian Gardens, the Swiss Alps, the English countryside etc.)
  • Autobiographical fiction
  • Pseudonymous and anonyms texts

Please send abstracts of 200 words, together with a 50 word bio-sketch, by 1 April 2019 to:

Juliane Roemhild j.roemhild@latrobe.edu.au