Postgraduate bursaries announced for Victorian Collaborations Study Day

Postgraduate bursaries available

Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Manchester Metropolitan University

Study Day:

‘Victorian Collaborations’

MMU Cheshire Campus

22nd April 2017

10am-5pm with optional afternoon tea at Crewe Hall Hotel

Keynote by Patricia Pulham (Portsmouth): ‘Collaborating with the Dead: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Borrowed Prestige’

Postgraduate students are invited to apply for one of four £50 bursaries (funded by the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, MMU Cheshire) towards subsidising travel, accommodation and registration for the VPFA ‘Victorian Collaborations’ Study Day.

For a full schedule please see:

Tickets are available here: Registration:


Study Day with vegetarian buffet lunch and refreshments: £16.50

Optional Afternoon Cream Tea at The Brasserie, Crewe Hall Hotel, 5-7.30 pm (transport with 7.45pm Crewe train station drop off, included): £27

If you would like to be considered, please email before the deadline of 3pm on the 3rd April 2017 with your name, address and PhD programme details, as well as a brief explanation of how the study day will support your research. You will be notified on April 5th whether your application has been successful.

N.B. Receipts will be reimbursed within 7 days of the Study Day.  Your contact for this is Dr Kirsty Bunting

Good Luck, and thank you for your interest in our Study Day.

‘Victorian Popular Journalism’, Wilkie Collins Journal

CFA: ‘Victorian Popular Journalism’, Wilkie Collins Journal (Winter 2018)

Guest Editors: Drs Janine Hatter and Helena Ifill

I hope nobody will be shocked, but it is only proper that I should confess, before writing another line, that I am about to disclose the existence of a Disreputable Society […] Our object is to waste our time, misemploy our intellects, and ruin our morals; or, in other words, to enjoy the prohibited luxury of novel-reading. (Wilkie Collins, ‘A Petition to the Novel-Writers’, Household Words, 1856)

These tongue-in-cheek words came from the pen of Wilkie Collins at a time when he was producing numerous articles, many of them for Charles Dickens’ popular periodical, Household Words. With a healthy dash of irony, Collins (in his role as a writer of non-fiction) casts aspersions on the value of fiction (the field in which he was hoping to make a lasting name for himself, and indeed soon would with the publication of The Woman in White). In doing so, Collins raises implicit questions about the relationship between journalism and fiction and about hierarchies of literary form. While Collins’s move into fiction suggests he prized one genre over the other, his journalism demonstrates his versatility – a trait that can be seen in the work of many authors (such as Margaret Oliphant, not to mention Dickens) who also supported themselves through their journalist outputs. His journalism covers travel writing, social commentary and satire, art and history, personal anecdotes, biographical sketches, and much more. As with his novels, Collins aimed to make his journalism both entertaining and socially-engaged. This element of his body of work remains largely untouched by modern critics, as do the journalistic works of many Victorian popular authors.

This special issue seeks to explore the journalism of Wilkie Collins and other Victorian popular authors, and more broadly to review the role of popular journalism in Victorian society. We are looking for articles that focus on both the content and the contexts of popular journalism. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The journalism of Wilkie Collins and other popular authors
  • The relationships between fact and fiction, journalists and novelists, authors’ articles and novels
  • The creation and distribution of daily / weekly / monthly newspapers, magazines and periodicals
  • How different publishing formats inform journalistic style and content
  • Journalistic networks: sources, writers, editors, printers, distributors
  • Local, European, Trans-Atlantic and International publishing arrangements
  • Journalism’s relationship to literature, advertorials and correspondence
  • Popular journalists’ oeuvre and their standing in the field
  • The place of journalism in sustaining a literary career
  • Journalistic earnings, pen names, anonymous writing
  • Journalistic favouritism and feuds
  • Sensational journalism and other strategies
  • Theorizing popular journalism: high / low brow journalism
  • Digitization, popular journalism and periodical studies
  • Journalism’s relationship to gender, class, race, disability etc.
  • Popular journalistic topics: politics/political satire, The Woman Question, social injustice, animals and their treatment, fashion and culture, reviews, exposés

Please e-mail abstracts of 500 words to and by Friday 31st March 2017.

Full articles of 5-8,000 words in MLA format due: Friday 28th July 2017.

Further information is available at the journal site:

The Wilkie Collins Journal is an online, peer-reviewed academic journal committed to publishing innovative and rigorous research into one of the most successful and important authors of the nineteenth century, as well as his related authors, periodicals and genres broadly defined.

Study Day – Mystery and Medicine

Medicine and Mystery: The Dark Side of Science in Victorian Fiction

A Victorian Popular Fiction Association – NUI Galway Study Day

Key-note speakers

Ms Sarah Wise, Author

Mr Alexander Black, NUI Galway – ‘The Early Years of Anatomy in Galway’

Exhibition – “Medicine and Mystery in C19th Galway”, Curated by Anna Gasperini and Paul Rooney

CFP Date: 17th March 2017

Conference Date: 8th June 2017

Location: National University of Ireland, Galway

Conference website:

Twitter: @meds_myst19

The internationally recognised Victorian Popular Fiction Association (VPFA) and the National University of Ireland, Galway, invite you to submit paper proposals for this interdisciplinary study day devoted to exploring representations of medicine and mystery in the Victorian era.

The nineteenth century saw unprecedented developments in medical science, which caused simultaneously wonder and anxiety in the wider public. Victorian popular authors such as Wilkie Collins, Florence Marryat, Charles Dickens, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon enthusiastically explored the themes of medicine and surgical innovation in their work, exploiting their sensational potential. At the same time, the hopes and controversies generated by advancements in the medical field were often the subject of public debate via newspapers, magazines, and cartoons. The conference organisers welcome 20-minute papers on the exploration of the topic. Speakers from Literary History, Medical History, and Medical Humanities backgrounds are welcome. Topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Medical advancements & the novel
  • The doctor and/or patient in Victorian fiction
  • The doctor as detective/criminal
  • Doctor-patient relationship in fiction and reality
  • “Popular” medicine: quackery, advertisements, popular remedies
  • Disease and popular novelists
  • Medical developments and the press: newspapers, journals, cartoons
  • Neo-Victorian medicine: novels, movies, and TV series
  • Medicine and crime: bodysnatchers, murderers, the development of forensic medicine
  • Controversial ideologies in Victorian medicine: eugenics, the Anatomy Act
  • Medicine and poverty
  • Medicine, pseudo-science and the supernatural
  • Frightening representations: disease and medicine in painting and pictures
  • Lunacy in Victorian fiction and non-fiction
  • Medicine and Victorian notions of gender
  • Freak shows and medicine
  • Disability in reality and fiction

Please submit a 300-word proposal and a 50-word biography in Word format to Ms Anna Gasperini and Dr Paul Rooney at by Friday 17th March 2017.

Study Day – Victorian Popular Collaborations

*Announcement: postgraduate bursaries are now available. See here for more details.*

Study Day – Victorian Popular Collaborations

Co-hosted by Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Manchester Metropolitan University

Conference date: 22nd April 2017

Location: Delaney Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Cheshire Campus

Collaborations Image

Programme: download here

10:00-10:15: Welcome (Kirsty Bunting, Janine Hatter and Helena Ifill)

10:15-11:30: Keynote by Patricia Pulham (Portsmouth): ‘Collaborating with the Dead: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Borrowed Prestige’ (Delaney Lecture Theatre)

11:30-12:00: COFFEE (Delaney 0-8)

12:00-1:00: Panel 1 Collaborative Relationships (Delaney Lecture Theatre)

Alexis Ancona and Jacob Hale (University of Dayton): ‘Unnatural Selection: Anthropomorphic and Supernatural Animals in Alice Illustrations’

Kimberley Braxton (Keele University): ‘“to exiled and harassed Anne wishing she was here” – Recovering the Literary Relationship of Anne and Emily Brontë’

1:00-2:00: LUNCH (Delaney 0-8)

2:00-3:00: Panel 2 Collaborative Authorships (Delaney Lecture Theatre)

Annachiara Cozzi (University of Pavia): ‘Anything but the Text: A Paratextual Analysis of Co-Authored Novels, 1870-1900’

Chris Louttit (Radboud University, Nijmegen): ‘Revisiting “The Gay Haunt of Cultured Vagabondage”: Bohemian Life Writing and Collaborative Models of Authorship’

3:00-4:00: Panel 3 Collaborative Afterlives (Delaney Lecture Theatre)

Erin Louttit (Independent Scholar): ‘Rewriting the Romans: Adaptive Literary Collaboration, W. H. Mallock’s Lucretius on Life and Death and Edward Fitzgerald’s The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Charlotte Wadoux (University of Kent): ‘Ventriloquising the Dickens-Collins collaboration in Dan Simmons’s Drood’

4:00-5:00: Roundtable discussion with Kirsty Bunting (MMU) and Janine Hatter (SHU) on ‘Teaching Victorian Popular Collaboration’ (Delaney 0-8)

5:00-7.30 Optional Afternoon Tea at the Brasserie, Crewe Hall Hotel

5:05pm Coach leaves Reception Building

7:30 Bus leaves Crewe Hall going back to Crewe Train Station, calling at the campus on the way (a 10-15 minute journey).


Study Day with vegetarian buffet lunch and refreshments: £16.50

Optional Afternoon Cream Tea at The Brasserie, Crewe Hall Hotel, 5-7.30 pm (transport with 7.45pm Crewe train station drop off, included): £27


Call for Contributors: Fashion and Material Culture in Victorian Fiction and Periodicals

Fashion and Material Culture in Victorian Fiction and Periodicals

Edited Collection: Call for Contributors

Abstracts Due: 31st July 2016Fashion and Material Culture - Image

Elizabeth Wilson, in Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity (2013), speaks of clothes being simultaneously objects and images (ix). Clothes can neither eschew their intimacy with the human body, nor how they map out a personal life course. As a result, their materiality and the performance of dress is a significant pleasure of fiction. As Wilson continues to note, fashion is an aesthetic medium “for the expression of ideas, desires & beliefs circulating in society [and] its function is to resolve formally, at the imaginary level, social contradictions which cannot be resolved” (9). These issues are played out in the fashion plate, cartoon, advert and satirical or sartorial article, as well as the novel.

Fashion’s role within these intertwined narratives is indicative of gender, class, age, mental state, race and nationality, empire, disability, marital status, transgression and moral worth. Not only were characters made recognisable through their dress, but readers of serial fiction encountered them in between adverts, print and patterns. Thus, how dress is depicted in fiction responds to its material paratext. Victorian periodicals observed the fashion seasons, changes in feminine and masculine status, and distinctions between generations, as well as perpetuated the rituals of dress for christening, coming of age, weddings, funerals and mourning. In all, they acknowledged the production, advertising and consuming of clothing.

Alongside these events, non-domestic cultural practices associated with forms of dress, such as uniform, work clothes, performance, costume, masque, fancy dress and theatrical attire, are also of vital importance in the full understanding of fashion and material culture. Furthermore, dress is often associated specifically with place – the ballroom, servants’ hall, music hall and theatre, sports venues, seaside and church – which licenses or discourages particular forms of clothing, and which were again perpetuated in serialised fiction.

Articles about hairstyles, accessories and jewellery, and adverts for the toilette were also made meaningful within fiction regarding the fantasies and moralities about Victorian men and women. For example, the making and wearing of clothes as part of the wider fashion industry and employment shaped the representation of the spinster, wife, seamstress and dress maker in different publications. Giving clothes to servants, charitable institutes, cycles of ownership, inheritance, the mending and wearing out of clothes all constitute significant moments in fiction and in understanding Victorian material culture.

Overall, this edited collection encourages interdisciplinary study into the ways in which Victorian writers have explored the social ideologies inherent in dress, fashion and the imaginative engagement with clothes. It acknowledges that there needs to be a scholarly link to research and theoretical perspectives on dress history, particularly with reference to periodical publications and dress collections.

The collection will be published with Edward Everett Root Publishers, who are also publishing the Key Popular Women Writers series, under the general editorship of Helena Ifill and Janine Hatter. The founder, John Spiers, used to run Harvester Press, and you can find out more about the publisher here:

Please send expressions of interest and abstracts of 500 words, and a 200 word biography, to Drs Nickianne Moody ( and Janine Hatter ( by 31st July 2016. Full essays will be 5000 words, due 27th January.

Key Popular Women Writers

Key Popular Women Writers

General Editors: Dr. Janine Hatter  and Dr. Helena Ifill

This innovative new series will deliver original and transformative feminist research into the work of leading women writers who were widely read in their time, but who have been under-represented in the canon.

The series will offer critical, historical and aesthetic contributions to current literary and theoretical work. Each volume will concentrate on one writer. The first six titles will be on Mary Braddon, Mrs. Henry Wood, Rhoda Broughton, Marie Corelli, Florence Marryat, and Charlotte Riddell.

Each volume in this series will explore the careers, writing practices and work of popular women writers, through a lens informed by contemporaneous and contemporary feminist thought. It will interrogate the ways in which women writers, their creative processes and published material can be considered feminist, and explore how recent developments in feminist theory can enrich our understanding of popular women’s lives and literature.

This series will both rethink established popular writers and their works, and rediscover and re-evaluate authors who have been largely neglected, often since their initial burst of success in their own historical period. This neglect is often due to the exclusivity and insular nature of the canon which has its roots in the Victorian critical drive to perpetuate a division between high and low culture.

In response, our definition of the “popular” is broadly interpreted to encompass women writers who were read by large sections of the public, and who wrote for the mass publishing market. The series therefore challenges this arbitrary divide, creating a new and dynamic dialogue regarding the canon’s expansion by introducing readers to previously under-researched women writers who were nevertheless prolific, known and influential.

Studying the work of these authors can tell us much about women’s writing, creativity and publishing practice, and about how popular fiction intervened in pressing political, social and cultural issues surrounding gender, history and women’s role in society.

This is an important and timely series that is inspired by, interrogates, and speaks to a new wave of feminism, new definitions of sex and gender, and new considerations of intersectionality.

It also reflects growing interest in popular fiction, and a feminist desire to broaden and diversify the literary canon.

Ultimately the series seeks to shed light on women writers whose work deserves greater recognition, to facilitate and inspire further research, and to pave the way for introducing these key women writers into the canon and the modern-day classroom.

Publisher: Edward Everett Root Publishers



The ‘Heart’ and ‘Science’ of Wilkie Collins Study Day

Deadline for CFP: Friday 17th June 2016

Conference date: 24th September 2016

Location: Barts Pathology Museum, London

Keynote: Dr. Tara MacDonald (University of Idaho)

‘“Why can’t I look into your heart, and see what secrets it is keeping from me?”’

The protagonist of Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science (1883), surgeon Ovid de Vere, laments the difficulty in deciphering hidden emotions and secrets. Yet, the language suggests his medical background, striking a note with the novel’s supposedly anti-vivisection message and highlighting contemporary debates into the nature of experimental medicine, observation and epistemology. What is the best way of uncovering secrets, and what part does knowledge of the body play in this? Can medical training benefit from a thorough understanding of emotion? And does gender play a part in this? Issues of ‘heart’ and ‘science’ reverberate across Collins’s work, from the Major’s collection of women’s hair in The Law and the Lady (1875) to Ezra Jenning’s solution to the crime of The Moonstone (1868). This conference takes as its focus the proliferation of “heart” and “science” throughout Collins’s work.

See the full CFP here.

Email abstracts to and

CFA: Gender and Victorian Popular Fiction, Art and Culture

VPFA is pleased to announce a new call for articles: ‘Gender in Victorian Popular Fiction, Art and Culture’, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, special issue edited by Janine Hatter and Helena Ifill

This special issue invites articles on all aspects of the relationship between gender and the “popular”. Popular fiction in the nineteenth century was repeatedly, and often negatively, associated with women and femininity, perceived as a mass of “silly novels by lady novelists” (George Eliot). Existing scholarship (by critics such as Solveig R. Robinson and Jennifer Phegley) has already done much to challenge the old Victorian notion that popular fiction was second-rate literature produced by a second-class gender. We seek papers that will reassess or reinvigorate the relationship between popular fiction and the feminine, but also work that goes beyond this in order to interrogate the interactions between gender and popular genres more broadly. Thus, we encourage engagement with masculinity studies and queer theory, as well as other popular genres, such as magazines, newspapers and other periodical publications, the penny bloods, gothic fictions, detective fiction, fads and fashions, and theatrical engagements. We also welcome submissions that consider gender and sexuality in conjunction with race, class, place and nationality.

Please see here for the full CFA. Please e-mail submissions to and by 30th April, 2016. Any queries or letters of interest are welcome and should be sent to both e-mail addresses. Earlier submissions are encouraged.