Armstrong Browning Library Introduces a New Way of Conferencing with "Rhyme and Reform"

Oct. 1, 2018

WACO, Texas (Oct. 28, 2018) – The Armstrong Browning Library demonstrated a new way of conferencing at "Rhyme & Reform," a multi-site, digitally networked symposium Oct. 4-5. It was the first conference at Baylor University to hold onsite events that are live-streamed between partnering locations and to the wider public.

This pioneering event, which partnered with the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and the University of Manchester in England, honored the 175th anniversary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “The Cry of the Children" and placed it into dialogue with other portrayals of industrial labor by Victorian working-class writers. The two-day conference commemorated the work of poetry through performances and presentations that displayed the conditions of working-class children in the industrial Victorian era. Presentations alternated between the Armstrong Browning Library and the University of Strathclyde campuses and were live-streamed on the event website. 

“The 'Rhyme and Reform' symposium was very different from the conferences and lectures we hosted in the past,” said Jennifer Borderud, director of the Armstrong Browning Library. “With this event, we broadened our reach by connecting virtually with our collaborators at the Universities of Strathclyde and Manchester and live streaming as much of the symposium content as we could.”

Dr. Joshua King, a lead organizer, and students from his 2018 Victorian Poetry class also unveiled an exhibition that complimented the conference presentations, "'Orphans of earthly love': Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Protest for Working Children."

“Most who witnessed this conference probably have no personal experience of mines or factories, which have largely moved out of eyesight in ‘first-world’ countries,” said King. “Yet our wardrobes and power plants still depend upon their often-inhumane operation around the globe, and far more children endure slavery and forced labor today than in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s time.”

The launch of this exhibit also marked ABL's annual Benefactors Day celebration. Following the "Orphans of earthly love" presentation, guests were invited to attend a catered reception honoring the benefactors of the Armstrong Browning Library.

The proceedings of this conference and the exhibition are available at baylor.edu/library/rhymeandreform.