Research Seminar: Dr Fionualla Dillane, ‘New Old Formalism, Old New Historicism, Victorian Periodicals and the Problem of Genre’

Research Seminar: Dr Fionualla Dillane, ‘New Old Formalism, Old New Historicism, Victorian Periodicals and the Problem of Genre’

10th March, 2015. After a warm welcome to LJMU from Professor Brian Maidment, Dr Fionualla Dillane from University College Dublin outlined the crux of her discussion. Is the study of periodicals under threat from the ‘new old formalism’ that encourages the researcher to think of the periodical as a ‘training ground’ for writers approaching established forms. By broaching the muddy waters of genre using the return to formalism, genre, Fionualla suggested, is a methodological tool and a conceptual frame. The study of periodicals has always been interdisciplinary due to the diverse field and contents of periodicals. Fionualla unpacked the concept of new formalism, giving rich analysis of the pivotal texts and argued that a return to formalism privileges the literary, which, by extension, deprivileges other texts defined as lacking literary merit and designated as craft. This is a conservative approach which Fioualla successfully argued is ‘turning back’. Fionualla argued that the study of periodicals is still at the stage of description rather than...
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