Deirde Coleman holds the Robert Wallace Chair of English at the University of Melbourne. Her research centres on eighteenth-century literature and cultural history, focusing in particular on racial ideology, colonialism, natural history and the anti-slavery movement. She is also the chief investigator on an Australian Research Council Linkage project, 'Minds, Bodies, Machines', with the software developer Constraint Technologies International. She has published in ELH, Eighteenth-Century Life and Eighteenth-Century Studies and is the author of Romantic Colonization and British Anti-Slavery (Cambridge University Press, 2005). She is currently writing a biography of the flycatcher Henry Smeathman.
Hilary Fraser holds the Geoffrey Tillotson Chair of Nineteenth-Century Studies, and is Head of the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck. She is Director of Birkbeck's interdisciplinary Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and the founding editor of Nineteen. She has written monographs on aesthetics and religion in Victorian writing, on the Victorians and Renaissance Italy, on nineteenth-century non-fiction prose and on gender and the Victorian periodical. A recent essay in Raritan, 'The Morals of Genealogy', reflects on our writing of the past via an intriguing personal encounter with Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill, and the Victorian's own writing of the past is the subject of a forthcoming chapter in The Cambridge Companion to English Literature 1830-1914, edited by Joanne Shattock. She maintains her interests in the periodical press, with an essay on 'Periodicals and Reviewing' in the forthcoming Victorian volume of the new Cambridge History of English Literature, edited by Kate Flint, and continues to work on the Victorians in Italy, with a special interest in Vernon Lee, Michael Field and the Berensons. Her current research is into women looking at and writing about art in the nineteenth century, towards a book on Gender, History, Visuality: Women Writing Art History.
This issue of 19 brings together a selection of essays from an interdisciplinary conference on 'Minds, Bodies, Machines' convened last year by Birkbeck's Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, University of London, in partnership with the English programme, University of Melbourne and software developers Constraint Technologies International (CTI). The conference explored the relationship between minds, bodies and machines in the long nineteenth century, with a view to understanding the history of our technology-driven, post-human visions. It is in the nineteenth century that the relationship between the human and the machine under post-industrial capitalism becomes a pervasive theme. From Blake on the mills of the mind by which we are enslaved, to Carlyle's and Arnold's denunciation of the machinery of modern life, from Dickens's sooty fictional locomotive Mr Pancks, who 'snorted and sniffed and puffed and blew, like a little labouring steam-engine', and 'shot out […]cinders of principles, as if it were done by mechanical revolvency', to the alienated historical body of the late-nineteenth-century factory worker under Taylorization, whose movements and gestures were timed, regulated and rationalised to maximize efficiency; we find a cultural preoccupation with the mechanisation of the nineteenth-century human body that uncannily resonates with modern dreams and anxieties around technologies of the human.