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The University of Southampton
Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research

SCNR Members paper at Charlotte Brontë Conference in May

Published: 10 February 2016
Charlotte Brontë

Dr Justine Pizzo is to present her paper titled ''Atmospheric Inspiration and the Meteorological Nervous System in Shirley' at the Charlotte Brontë: A Bicentennial Celebration of her Life and Works Conference on 13 and 14 May 2016 at Chawton House Library.  The paper examines how Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley (1849) represents women’s sensitivity to climate as a source of post-Romantic authorship.

Dr Pizzo’s work on Charlotte Brontë will also appear in the January 2016 issue of PMLA. Her article “Atmospheric Exceptionalism in Jane Eyre” explores how Brontë’s protagonist Jane Eyre responds to changes in the weather. The essay argues that in her eponymous “autobiography,” Jane’s ability to predict future events and assume an embodied—yet occasionally omniscient—insight alerts us to the ways in which Charlotte Brontë’s fiction leverages the rise of climate science as a basis for successful female authorship. In opposition to the prevailing belief of the Victorian medical establishment that storms prompted hysteria and exacerbated symptoms of women’s biological “periodicity,” Brontë’s first published novel draws the sensitive body and insightful mind of its female protagonist into close alliance. Far from reflecting a nervous pathology, Jane’s empowered responses to the air demonstrate the ways in which meteorological concepts such as weather wisdom and lunarism prove vital to nineteenth-century fiction.

For further information on the conference please visit the event page.


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