EVENT Nov 15
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D.H. Lawrence: Elitist? (SAMLA)

Jacksonville, FL
Organization: D.H. Lawrence Society of North America
Event: SAMLA
Categories: American, British, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Medieval, Early Modern & Renaissance, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, 20th & 21st Century
Event Date: 2024-11-15 to 2024-11-17 Abstract Due: 2024-06-01

The aristocratic protagonist of Lawrence’s “The Ladybird” (1923) contracts a mystical marriage with a Bohemian count. The count’s ideas make him a stand-in for Lawrence. The count predicts, and welcomes, more destruction of the social order than even the Great War brought about. Why does Lawrence assign this spokesman, and the woman who pledges fidelity to him, an aristocratic status? Is there an inveterate elitism in Lawrence and his work? Adam Parkes’s Modernism and the Aristocracy (1923) has recently deliberated the latter question. For a further deliberation of Lawrentian elitism the D. H. Lawrence Society of North America seeks papers for a 2024 SAMLA session about this topic. Contradictions abound in Lawrence. As Parkes makes clear, if there is an elitist streak in Lawrence, there is also an opposite, egalitarian commitment. Lawrence struggles, Parkes says, “to fill the vacuum left by the retreat of the hereditary aristocracy” and to model “a supply of people intelligent and virtuous enough to run a genuine democracy.” Nevertheless, that “supply of people” suggests another undemocratic elite grouping: an intellectual aristocracy. How does Lawrence represent such contradictions, or ignore, or exploit, or resolve them? Related questions might include: What previously unseen aspects of Lawrence’s work are made visible by considering elitism’s place in it? What present-day classroom challenges arise if one is teaching students about the elitism that Lawrence courts?

Proposed papers in response to this call must provide an abstract of 200 words and a short cv. The deadline for submission of proposals is June 1, 2024. They are to be sent to Professor Robert L. Caserio at rlc25@psu.edu.


Robert L. Caserio