Challenger Unbound: a one-day symposium on Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger narratives

9 December 2013

Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London

A century has passed since the publication of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. This one-day symposium offers an ideal opportunity to take stock of the Professor Challenger narratives and to reassess what these three novels and two short stories can offer to new generations of scholars, students, and enthusiasts.

Introduction: Professor John Sutherland, Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature, University College London

Keynote Speakers:
Professor Ian Duncan: Professor and Florence Green Bixby Chair in English, University of California Berkeley
Professor Michael Saler, Professor of History, University of California, Davis
Professor Jeremy Tambling, Professor of Literature, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester


£20 Standard
£15 IES Members/students/concessions



The UCL Art Museum is also open for drop-in visits from 1pm-5pm. Please ask volunteers to direct you there.

9:00 Registration

Welcome & introduction: Professor John Sutherland (UCL)


Panel 1: Challenger and Contemporary Theories

  • Professor Hsiu-ling Lin (National Taiwan Normal University): "Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolutionary Theories and Spiritualism"
  • Professor Alex Moffett (Providence College): "Swept Over an Etheric Niagara: The Uses  of Etheric Theory in Doyle's Challenger Stories"
  • Dr David Beck (Independent): "‘Who will say what is possible in such a country?’ Lord John Roxton - Psychic Investigator in The Land of Mist (1926)"

Panel 2: Challenger and Genre

  • Tom Dillon (UCL): "‘No room for romance’; Arthur Conan Doyle’s Challenger Novels and the Development of Science Fiction"
  • Dr Merrick Burrow (Huddersfield): "Crises of Legitimation in Conan Doyle's Scientific Romance"
  • Professor Matthew M. DeForrest (Johnson C. Smith University): "‘The Age of Romance [is] Not Dead’: Pleasures of the Imagination in Science Fiction"
11:00 Coffee Break

Keynote 1: Professor Michael Saler (UC Davis)

“From Ironic Belief to Certain Knowledge: Challenger as Conan Doyle’s Doppelganger”

12:15 Lunch

Panel 3: Challenger and Fiction

  • Professor Douglas Kerr (Hong Kong): "The Challenger Tales and the End of the World"
  • Richard Burnip (Independent): "‘It is, in my opinion, the end of the world’: Conan Doyle and the Strand Magazine approach the Great War"
  • Catherine Cooke (Westminster Reference Library): "Creating Reality: Conan Doyle’s Concern to Present Fiction As Fact in The Lost World"

Panel 4: Challenger and Doubt

  • Michael Shaw (Glasgow): "‘Truly Serving the Empire’: Challenger and Conan Doyle’s Conversion to Home Rule"
  • Jonathan Barnes (Kingston): "“My mind has received a shock”: An Investigation into the Unlikely Conversion of Professor George Edward Challenger"
  • Theresa Derwin (Independent): "Challenger and Empire"

Keynote 2: Professor Jeremy Tambling (Manchester)

"Doyle, Freud, and Professor Challenger: Civilization and its Missing Links"

15:30 Walk to UCL

Professor Philip Schofield (UCL)

Introduction to Jeremy Bentham

Tour of the UCL Art Museum



Keynote 3: Professor Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley):

"Blank Spaces in the Map: Conan Doyle's Poetics of the Unknown"



Catherine Cooke (Westminster Reference Library): "Exploring the Lost World: Dinosaurs Captured on Film".


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