Forthcoming Study Days

 “A Sudden Swift Impression”: Re-Examining the Victorian Short Story

A Victorian Popular Fiction Association – Short Story Network Study Day

Hosted by the University of Brighton

Saturday 27th January 2018

Keynote Speaker: Dr Emma Liggins (Manchester Metropolitan University)

on ‘Victorian Women’s Ghost Stories and the Haunted Space: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Margaret Oliphant’


Programme forthcoming shortly

The Victorian Popular Fiction Association and the Short Story Network invite you to submit proposals for this Study Day on the short fiction of the long 19th century.

Scholarship is increasingly recognising the short story as a form that, far from being the inferior relation of the novel, has its own distinctive aesthetic and discursive possibilities. This Study Day will explore the contention that precisely the qualities that led to the short story’s marginal status – its brevity, immediacy, and possible ephemerality – provided writers scope for formal narrative experimentation and for exploring different ways of representing social reality. The conference organisers welcome proposals for 20 minute papers. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The ghost story and Gothic fiction
  • The short story, crime and detection
  • The short story and humour
  • The short story and romance
  • Imperial short stories
  • Short fiction and the periodicals market
  • The short story and women writers
  • The New Woman
  • Children’s literature / juvenile story papers
  • The short story and sensation
  • The serial short story
  • The short story and science fiction
  • Medicine and the short story

The Study Day will also include a Reading Group (story to be circulated in advance) and the first AGM of the Short Story Network (

Please submit a 300 word proposal and a 50 word biography to Dr Lucy Andrew and Dr Vicky Margree at by Monday 2nd October, 2017.

Victorian Animal Encounters

A Victorian Popular Fiction Association – University of Portsmouth Study Day

Hosted by the University of Portsmouth

Friday 4th May 2018

Keynote: Jane Hamlett, Royal Holloway

Victorian Cats“I went to show my friend Pigott the grave of the illustrious Shelley. Approaching the resting-place of the divine poet in a bright sunlight, the finest black Tom you ever saw discovered at an incredible distance that a catanthropist had entered the cemetery—rushed up at a gallop with his tail at right-angles to his spine—turned over on his back with his four paws in the air, and said in the language of cats: ‘Shelley be hanged! Come and tickle me!’ I stooped and tickled him. We were both profoundly affected.” (Wilkie Collins, letter to his mother, 1866).

As part of the Victorian Animals collaboration between the University of Portsmouth, Liverpool John Moores University, and the Victorian Popular Fiction Association, and following the Victorian Animals study day at LJMU in November, we invite proposals for 20 minute papers on animals and animality in Victorian popular literature and culture.

Topics and approaches to Victorian representations of animals may include (but are not restricted to):

  • Gothic
  • Criminality/detection
  • Evolutionary/degenerationist discourse
  • Science Fiction
  • Children’s fiction and/or moral fables
  • Death, commemoration, and taxidermy
  • Theorising animals
  • Animal worlds
  • National and international, domestic and wild animals
  • Countryside animals – hunting, poaching and beyond
  • Household and working animals
  • Animals and disease
  • Contact zones, encounters, and inter-subjectivity
  • Exoticism and Empire
  • Medical ethics, sentience, and (anti)vivisection
  • Feeding (on) animals
  • Magic, the spiritualist and occultism
  • Zoos, menageries, circuses, and institutions
  • Victorian animals v Romantic animals
  • The periodical press
  • Animals in popular poetry
  • Text, art, and illustration
  • Disability Studies
  • Animals and gender, race, or ethnicity

Please send a 300-word proposal and a 50 word biography for 20 minute papers to the conference organisers by Wednesday 28th February 2018: Dr Christopher Pittard ( and Dr Joanne Knowles (