CFP: Sex, Scandal, Sensation

The VPFA is delighted to be partnering with the University of Falmouth on the following event, taking place in early July 2024. We hope to see some of you there ahead of the VPFA Annual Conference later in the month!

Sex, Scandal, and Sensation

Tuesday 2 July 2024 to Thursday 4 July 2024

Falmouth University, UK, in partnership with City University, Hong Kong

In 2014 Falmouth University hosted the hugely successful Haunted Landscapes conference, which was followed in 2023 by Haunted Landscapes: Nature, Super-Nature, and Global Environments. Sex, Scandal, and Sensation is the third conference in this series. It will, like its predecessors, be held in beautiful Cornwall on the Falmouth Campus amidst lush tropical gardens, only a short walk from the picturesque town and its beaches.

Sex, Scandal, and Sensation is an interdisciplinary and global exploration of the role and impact of the sensational, the scandalous, and the sexual in literature, film, television, gaming, and other forms of cultural production. The conference is dedicated to the discussion of a broad range of genres and sub-genres, including Sensation Fiction and the Sensational Press; Crime Fiction and True Crime narratives; Shilling Shockers, Penny Dreadfuls and the Pulps; Romance, Erotica, and Pornographies; the Gothic in both traditional and modern forms; Thrillers on both page and screen; Bestsellers, Blockbusters, and Bonkbusters; Horror novels and films; Soap Operas and Shocking Theatre; RPG and Digital storytelling; and other genres and forms that both rely on the scandal, sensation, and sex for their effects, and explore its effects on us.

Taking place in the bicentenary of the birth of Wilkie Collins, the godfather of Sensation Fiction, and amidst Simon & Schuster’s ongoing reissue of the entire catalogue of the so-called ‘Queen of Trash’ and powerful feminist icon Jackie Collins, this conference celebrates, exposes, and interrogates the boundaries and depths of popular, and not so popular, culture and real-world events. We will be thinking and talking about affect and its effects, about public outrage and private shame, about censorship and permissiveness, about lawsuits and love affairs, about the market and its imperatives, about aesthetics and morality, and all of this across a wide range of disciplines, mediums, time periods, and texts.

We hope you will join us for the exciting event, which will bring together scholars, researchers, students, and enthusiasts to share their research, insights, and perspectives in an open and inclusive atmosphere. We welcome submissions for individual twenty-minute papers as well as for full panels exploring sex, scandal, and sensation. Subjects can include (but are not bound by):

  • The portrayal and evolution of sex, scandal, and sensation across different periods and genres
  • Victorian and Neo-Victorian Sensation Fiction
  • Gothic literature’s fascination with the taboo and the scandalous
  • The role of sensation in war and atrocity writing
  • Sensational real and imagined crime narratives
  • The role of sensation in bestsellers and popular literature
  • The portrayal of desire, sex, and consent in global Romantic Fictions
  • The ways in which scandal and sensation are used to challenge or reinforce social norms
  • Creating the sensational on screen
  • Cultural, historical, and social contexts for sensation and scandal
  • Multicultural sensations: how does the sensational appear within and across cultures?
  • Sensation and form: how does the desire for sensation shape structure?
  • Sensation in a post-scandal age
  • Navigating consent on screen
  • Real world scandals and fictional sensation
  • Landscape of sensation, the scandalous, and the traumatic
  • Navigating sex and sexualities in traditional and digital forms
  • The role of intoxication in the sensational, the scandalous, and the shameful
  • The public, the private, and the in-between
  • Interactive digital romance in visual novels and dating simulators
  • Virtual sex and romance through VR, AR, and robotics
  • Simulating sex and romance: the rules of roleplaying



Proposals should include a title, an abstract of 250–300 words, a brief biographical note (up to 100 words), and contact details. Panel proposals are very welcome.

Please submit your proposals to  by 14th February 2024. We encourage submissions from scholars at all stages of their careers, including early career researchers and postgraduate students. Interdisciplinary approaches and innovative methodologies are welcome.