D.H. Lawrence Society of North America

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Conferences & Calls

Please contact the webmaster with info on upcoming Lawrence related conferences, panels, and calls for papers.  Your assistance is appreciated in helping to keep these notices up-to-date.  Past MLA Lawrence session paper titles are now archived on our website as well as information regarding past International Lawrence Conferences.



Conference Announcements



 25-27 April 2024

Acoustic Awareness in D. H. Lawrence’s Work 

Université Paris Nanterre
Centre de Recherches Anglophones (CREA)

 “I believe in the fertility of sound” (Mirabal in The Plumed Serpent)

     Sounds partake of the fabric of life. Relatively intense, sounds are omnipresent in one’s immediate environment. But they can also reactivate memories from the past or be remembered, echoing in one’s mind or private ear. They may furthermore announce something coming, like a promise or an ominous threat. Paying special attention to the frequent evocation of sounds and noises in Lawrence’s writings, the conference will examine how he re-creates the soundscape of his times and the sounds of his characters’ environment, thus producing a resounding textual material.

     Hearing is a spatial experience: sounds deploy themselves in space where the untouchable and invisible soundwaves vibrate. We will study how Lawrence’s novels and poems literally provide spaces for vibrations, or repetitions of sounds, like for instance the drums that vibrate throughout The Plumed Serpent. But within the space and time of a novel, a poem, an essay or a letter, Lawrence also echoes the context of the period he describes – turning parts of his work into sound archives: the dissonance of booming industrialisation, the noise of urbanisation, of locomotives, engines, new machines, all these sounds convey the cultural and political atmosphere of the early 20th century. Some places are particularly resonant, like churches or cathedrals whose peculiar acoustics Lawrence repeatedly evokes and by which he foregrounds the possible metaphysical dimension of sounds.

     Sounds thus reveal the spirit of time and place, and this is made all the more conspicuous when Lawrence travels to remote areas, as in Mornings in Mexico where one hears “the sound of strangers’ voices,” or where foreign languages or even local dialect disturb or add piquancy to human interaction. In Kangaroo, Richard Somers is perturbed by the Australians’ odd tendency to reduce words to “just a sound”. Music as well, either performed with instruments or sung, plays a fundamental part in the various cultural soundscapes explored by Lawrence.

     If human beings speak noisily – and Lawrence reproduces a wide range of voices –, they are also physically noisy, beyond words: coughs, snores, hiccupping, choking throats, laughter, heart beats, sexual intercourse, bodily contact, cries, boisterous children, and all sorts of shrieks. “The moaning cry of the woman in labour” (The Rainbow) makes birth as noisy as the agony of the dying (like the “wha-a-a-ah” of Gerald’s father).

     Beyond the noises produced by human beings and their man-made civilisation, Lawrence’s oeuvre resounds with the echoes of Nature. The sea, the wind, the weather are relentlessly noisy. Animals regularly cough and neigh, or shout, their noises are set against those of machines, of human beings, or are used metaphorically to depict the noises of the latter.

     These sounds must be in part analysed as clues to Lawrence’s complex epistemological apprehension of fauna, flora, cosmos, and of the world in general. For, quite regularly in his work, “to sound” is a metonymy for the attempt to define what is not wholly graspable: “sounded as if,” “sounded like,” “it sounded impersonal”, “they sounded absorbed….” etc. Not wholly seizing the true nature of things, Lawrence relies on how things sound to get closer to a form of apprehension.

     An inquiry into the question of sound and sounds necessarily involves the issue of silence, as it is described in or reproduced by the text: the silence of Nature, of people, blanks and breaks in conversations, speechlessness, etc. How can silence be interpreted, suggested, hinted at? Does it express void, fear, loss, pain, suffocation, peacefulness, reticence? Is it natural and spontaneous or forced? If representing silence with words is somewhat ironical, for words emerge from silence and are therefore a modulation of the silence, another related paradox actually arises as soon as we take acoustics as an object of analysis in literature, since the written text is by nature silent.

     Participants are therefore invited to analyse how the text is made sonorous when read, and in the process (whether read aloud or in one’s mind) how the textual material is thus made to resonate. This will involve reflections addressing the characters’ voices and the analysis of the prosody, the rhythm, the thickness of the signifiers that produce sounds. For Lawrence makes language vibrate, by “slightly modified repetitions” (WL), by paronomasia, alliterations and assonances, by distortions or, for instance, by making regular use of onomatopoeia that plug the reader’s ear directly to the sound evoked.

We invite reflection on the following, non-exhaustive list of themes:

  • - Modern soundscape: industrial, mechanical and urban noises
  • - The sounds of Nature: the elements, animals, plants, meteorology
  • - Human noises: voices ; emotional expressions; biological sounds; sexual noises, etc.
  • - Music: instrumental and vocal music; harmony, dissonance
  • - Foreign sounds, strange noises, vernacular echoes
  • - The sounds of literary language: prosody, rhythms, noisy signifiers, onomatopoeia
  • - Noises as a mode of access to knowledge and understanding
  • - The silence of Nature, of people, of machines and of the text itself
  • - Sounds and space: vibrations, movements
  • - Sounds and time: memory, nostalgia, foreboding

A few bibliographic references:

  • Leighton, Angela. Hearing Things: The Work of Sound in Literature. Harvard University Press, 2018.
  • Murphet, Julian, Helen Groth, Penelope Hone, eds. Sounding Modernism – Rhythm and Sonic mediation in modern literature and film. Edinburgh University Press, 2017.
  • Rancière, Jacques. The Mute Speech.
  • Reid, Susan. D. H. Lawrence, Music and Modernism. Palgrave, 2019.
  • Steiner, George. Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature, and the Inhuman. Atheneum, 1967.
  • Snaith, Anna, ed. Sound and Literature. CUP, 2020.
  • Sterne, Jonathan, ed. The Sound Studies Reader. Routledge, 2015.

     The deadline for proposals is 10 November 2023. Priority will be given to proposals received before the deadline, but we will continue to accept proposals until 15 December 2023. Please send a 300-word abstract and a biographical note to Fiona Fleming and Elise Brault-Dreux

Organizing Committee: Fiona Fleming, Elise Brault-Dreux, Ginette Roy.

Conference Fee: 80 euros

Link to our journal Etudes Lawrenciennes

International Conference
26-28 October 2023

     This international conference aims to examine notions of heritage and legacy in Thomas Hardy’s writings, career and influence. Part of the conference will focus in particular on the links between Hardy and D. H. Lawrence.

     Conference organised by FATHOM, the French Association for Thomas Hardy Studies, with support from CY Cergy Paris University (UMR 9022 “Héritage”), Sorbonne Nouvelle University (PRISMES EA 4398) and Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 University (EMMA research team)

     From the antiquary’s fortuitous discovery of Tess’s prestigious ancestors to the complex trans-generational transmission process in The Well Beloved, questions of genealogy, filiation, and transmission appear in all of Thomas Hardy’s novels, whether from a genetical, material, financial or even purely legal perspective (through the transmission of money, objects, property or values, as well as misappropriation, dispossession etc.). Traces of the past – whether historical, familial or even personal – run deep in the novels’ diegesis, raising questions of inheritance, legitimate or illegitimate transmission and continuity as well as historical ruptures. Heritage-making, or “heritagization”, is both a symbolic and very concrete process. One may think of how, with Wessex, Hardy created his own spatial and architectural heritage, kept a record of the local dialect (both following in William Barnes’s footsteps and breaking away from him) and mapped its territory through an interplay of tradition and transposed reality, both giving new importance to historical sites and integrating them into his own fictional geography (e.g. Stonehenge).

     The real-life places themselves have retained the trace of Hardy’s fictional geography, as evidenced by another level of heritagization which can be seen in the craze for literary tourism around Hardy’s Wessex, in the renovation of Hardy’s birth cottage by the Heritage Lottery Fund about ten years ago, or else in the English Heritage blue plaque scheme. Worth noting is the impact of cultural heritage policies on Hardy’s literary heritage, as is the role of the National Trust and of other local cultural endeavours such as exhibitions, monuments and statues, commemorations and anniversaries. Such strategies of appropriation and re-appropriation of the author as a national figure have been successful in creating an official Hardyan literary heritage, in particular thanks to the dissemination and study of Hardy’s works both locally and nationally.

     Understanding Hardy’s heritage also implies considering the context of Victorian publishing history which presided over the publication of his writings (e.g. the role of Leslie Stephen and the Cornhill Magazine) and how Hardy’s own works were often composed as palimpsests intended to circumvent censorship. Equally important is the examination of how Hardy designed his own heritage, intent on entering literary history as he recorded his own personal (his)story for posterity by writing his (auto)biography and attributing its authorship to his second wife. The digitization of Hardy’s correspondence is precisely at the heart of the “Hardy and Heritage” project currently underway in England in partnership with the Dorset Museum.

     Last but not least, what may be considered as central to the question of heritage is also the reception of Hardy’s writings, first of all in his own lifetime, then by later readers as his works were re-written, adapted and celebrated by others. Among the novelists and poets most centrally influenced by Hardy is D. H. Lawrence, whose “Study of Thomas Hardy” (1936) was written as a thorough critique of his predecessor’s oeuvre. As it turned out, the posthumously published essay became one of the most fundamental pieces in Lawrence’s philosophy, a proper reflection on his art and, in his own words, “a sort of Confessions of [his] Heart” (letter to Amy Lowell, Nov 1914; Lawrence xxiii). To this day, the piece, which constitutes a literary bridge from Hardy’s art to Lawrence’s heart, serves as a testimony of the younger author’s deep respect for a writer who both influenced his fiction and inspired him to find his own path. The connection between the two authors is therefore well-known and quite often mentioned in passing in essays dedicated to the study of one or the other. However, the specificities that characterise this particular literary (af)filiation, as well as the links between Hardy and other writers, are yet to be explored. Is there any proper Hardyan heritage in Lawrence’s writing, or in the works of other authors from the 20th and 21st centuries, and if so, which particular aspects of these writings can demonstrate such a heritage?

   Suggested topics for this conference:

● Transmission (vs acquisition), heritage, inheritance, succession, social reproduction, patrimonial / matrimonial strategies, dispossession, misappropriation, squandering
● Family history, filiation, descent, pedigree, family ties, inter-generational transfers, genealogy, genetics, heredity
● Primitivism, evolution, Darwinism
● Cultural memory, memorial undertakings, writing and reinterpreting history, prehistory / archaeology / traces of ancient civilisations, relics and remains
● Historical heritage, restoration /preservation, literary tourism
● Cultural institutions, archives, museums, monuments, commemorations, celebrations
● Publishing history, editorial lines, reeditions, dissemination and transmission of writings
● (Auto)biography, correspondence, notebooks (dissemination and transmission)
● Authorship, textual and intermedial adaptations, literary tributes, celebrations
● Influences (e.g. influence of the Romantics; influence on other writers)

   Suggested topics for proposals on Hardy and D. H. Lawrence:

● Hardy, Lawrence and the Romantics
● Traces of Past Civilisations in Hardy and Lawrence
● Heredity and Inheritance in Hardy and Lawrence
● Victorian heritage in Lawrence’s writing
● Heritage vs. acquisition in Hardy and Lawrence 

We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations in English.
Selected proceedings from the conference will be published in the FATHOM journal.
Please send proposals (max. 500 words) along with a brief bio/bibliographical note (max. 500 words)
to Laurence Estanove by 3 July 2023.
Authors will be notified by the end of July.

MLA 2024

Philadelphia, PA (Jan. 4-7, 2024)

Proposed Joint Panel


     In Dickens’s figures, cravings for attachment motivate the forward drive of complex relations; in Lawrence’s figures, cravings for separation are the narrative motor. How might new scrutiny of the drama of attachments and separations enrich critical analysis of Dickens and Lawrence? Along those lines, how might fresh comparative attention to those writers illuminate the period differences that rightly or wrongly separate them and their professional critics too? Those questions are made more relevant by current interest in attachment theory as it affects ordinary life and ideas of well-being. Moreover, attachment theory plays a major part in attempts to define the nature of literature and of readers’ responses to artworks. To explore all the phenomena at issue – formalist, psychological, aesthetic – we are proposing a joint panel that will formulate Dickensian and Lawrentian contributions to attachment theory, and attachment theory’s possible contributions to Dickens and Lawrence studies. Papers dealing with both authors are especially welcome. Abstracts of 250-300 words and a brief curriculum vitae should be sent to Robert L. Caserio at by Sunday, March 19, 2023.


MLA 2024

Philadelphia, PA (Jan. 4-7, 2024)


     In his essay “The Novel and the Feelings,” Lawrence laments the fact that, in his belief, “we are hopelessly uneducated in ourselves” and that in “the dark continent of my self, I have a whole stormy chaos of ‘feelings’” (STH 201-02). His suggestion is for the reader to listen in to “the low, calling cries” of characters in novels “as they wander in the dark woods of their destiny” (STH 205). Clearly, Lawrence was highly interested in exploring human emotions and in exploring his own often volatile feelings. He does that with great skill and intensity in much of his writing of whatever genre. For its 2024 MLA panel in Philadelphia, January 4-7, 2024, the D.H. Lawrence Society of North America invites papers from any theoretical perspective, including affect theory, on any aspect of Lawrence’s engagement with emotions. Abstracts of 250-300 words and a brief curriculum vitae should be sent to Ron Granofsky at by Sunday, March 19, 2023.