Literary Culture, Meritocracy and the Assessment of Intelligence in Britain and America, 1880-1920
Picture by Harold Heaton Public domain in the United States

17-18 July, 2018 – University of Kent

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Helen Small, Pembroke College, University of Oxford
Professor Priscilla Wald, Duke University

Literary Culture, Meritocracy and the Assessment of Intelligence in Britain and America, 1880-1920
A student in a dunce cap and a man on the steps of the Tome Scientific Building at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, circa 1890. Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College.

Conference CFP

This conference aims to stimulate a wide-ranging discussion about the interactions between British and American literature, education, and the sciences of the mind between 1850-1950. We welcome paper and panel proposals on any aspect of British or American literature, education and/or the sciences of the mind broadly construed.

This conference is part of Dr Sara Lyons’ (PI), Dr Michael Collins’ (Co-I) and Dr Fran Bigman’s (Research Associate) AHRC-funded project, Literary Culture, Meritocracy, and the Assessment of Intelligence in Britain and America, 1880-1920. The project is an investigation of how British and American novelists understood and represented intellectual ability in the period, with a particular focus on how they responded to the rise of intelligence testing and the associated concepts of I.Q. and meritocracy.

Possible topics include literature and:

  • Teaching and Being Taught; pedagogical theory and practice
  • Representations of Places of Learning
  • Examinations, grades, scholarships, qualifications
  • Inequality, Discrimination, and Exclusion in Education
  • Academic Success and Failure
  • Literacy and Illiteracy
  • Intellectuals, Experts, Professionalism
  • Autodidacticism, Informal Education
  • Varieties of education: aesthetic, classical, moral, religious, scientific, technical
  • Learning Styles and Types of Intelligence
  • Intellectual ability and disability

As well as literature and:

  • Professionalisation/ Institutionalisation of Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Psychometrics and personality testing
  • Physiology and psychology
  • Psychological Schools and Controversies
  • Psychology and Philosophy
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Psychiatry
  • Sexology
  • Parapsychology
  • Eugenics
  • Language and Cognition

Please submit an individual proposal of no more than 350 words or an outline for a 3 paper panel proposal to sciencesofthemindconference@gmail.com by the 1 March, 2018. Papers will be limited to 20 minutes. Please include your name, a short bio, and email address in your proposal.

You can find the conference programme here: Sciences of the Mind Programme. The conference was reviewed by the British Association for American Studies here.