Previous Study Days

Since 2009, VPFA Study Days have explored the works of writers such as Rhoda Broughton, Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and addressed themes from Victorian Animals to the Threatened Child. Details of past Study Days can be found below. 

If you are interested in running a VPFA study day, please download the Study Day Proposal Form (Word), and email it to Helena Ifill and Jeremy Newton at vpfainfo@gmail.com.

‘Knowledge in the Victorian Periodical’

Friday 19 April 2024, Manchester Metropolitan University (and with hybrid options for audience members)

Keynote Speaker, Annemarie McAllister (UCLan)

CALL FOR PAPERS (closed):

From Newgate novels and silver-fork fiction at the start of the period to science fiction and a gothic resurgence at the end of the century, nineteenth-century periodical fiction presented a wide variety of ways through which to conceptualise, depict, and understand the world. Across this diversity of subjects and epistemological stances, the nature of the periodical format adds further complications through its serialisations, circulations and re-circulations, and a maze of intertextual connections. While scholars have long been attentive to these issues, the development of digital methods have created new possibilities for analysis and the scale of the periodical press – the main textual production of the world’s first industrialised knowledge economy – presents ongoing complexities as new texts and information broaden our understanding of the workings of genres, media, writers, editors, readers. This study day brings together scholars working on periodicals and popular fiction to ask fundamental questions about how periodicals and their fictions constructed, shaped, disseminated, complicated, and otherwise were involved with “knowledge”.

Contributors might consider knowledge as broadly or as narrowly as they wish, focussing on anything from a single page or short story to entire publications, genres, movements, and bodies of work. Papers are invited on any topic that engages with “knowledge” (however construed) within any form of Victorian periodical, but especially as it relates to popular fiction. Approaches might include (but are not limited to):

  • Gendered knowledge and class-based knowledge – the social parameters of writing, imagined audiences versus the reality
  • Empire, race, and diversity – colonial and imperial connections, nationalisms and identity, postcolonial reading and decolonising nineteenth-century collections
  • Genre issues – assumptions, world view, tone, audience, contexts…
  • Economies of knowledge – commodities, advertising, packaging, pricing, production
  • Ways of reading – close/distant, part-issue/volume, serial/anthology, etc.
  • Practical knowledge, useful knowledge, and their implied opposites (impractical/useless knowledge)
  • How texts migrate and evolve across media – intertextual connections, reprinting and re-mediating information, international republications, translations, adaptations…
  • Use of source material, authority, authenticity, and validity; what constitutes plagiarism in the nineteenth century; acknowledgement and canonicity
  • Questions of media and form – serialisations and books, illustrated texts, periodicals read aloud, fiction and poetry/music/non-fiction/photography/sewing patterns/stock market data…
  • Implicit knowledge – unstated forms of knowledge conveyed through character, plot, tone…
  • Contested knowledge – formations and representations of debate, dissent, consensus and “fact” (real or otherwise)
  • Scales and taxonomies of knowledge – anecdote, detail, thick description versus overview, statistics, and panorama
  • Moral and religious instruction versus scandal, muck, and entertainment
  • Past, present, future knowledges – the historical and the contemporary, or the contemporary as historical (and vice versa)

We invite proposals for 15-20 minute papers, which should be sent in the body of an email to  KnowledgeinthePeriodical@gmail.com by  Friday 15 March 2024. Abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words and accompanied by a short biographical note. Most presentations will be delivered in-person, but we are happy to consider pre-recorded video presentations of 15-18 minutes – please do contact the committee if you want to consider presenting in that way. Speakers do not have to be VPFA members.

A limited number of travel bursaries are available for PhD students, independent scholars and unwaged participants.  If you would like to be considered for one of the bursaries, please email the organising committee.

The fee for the study day in person is £10 waged, £5 unwaged. 

 

OUIDA: High Priestess of the Impossible (2023)

Online |  November 3rd–4th 2023

Organised by Frankie Dytor and Helena Esser.

Call for Papers

Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramée, 1839-1908) was a Victorian celebrity, non-conformist, and literary enfant terrible whose life and work conformed neither to dominant literary, cultural, or gendered conventions of the nineteenth century, nor neatly affirms our present-day expectations of Victorian literature. She was an internationally read, self-supporting writer, wholly uninterested in realism or the domestic sphere and sceptical of the New Woman, even as she lived alone, condemned marriage, or wrote happy divorcées. She pioneered the aesthetic novel and the desert adventure, synthesised sensation fiction, French romance, and social satire, mastered the Italian novel, and influenced the emerging Decadent movement. Her literary networks included Robert Browning, Richard Burton, Wilkie Collins, Marie Corelli, Oscar Wilde, and Max Beerbohm, and she drew admiration from John Ruskin, Henry James, and Vernon Lee. 

Ouida shocked and delighted her audiences with her dandy guardsmen and happy adventuresses, her artists and revolutionaries, her depictions of aristocratic splendour and casual adultery. Known in turns for her ‘Swinburnian fleshiness’ and making Zola look ‘clean-tasted in comparison’, Ouida was lauded for her vitality and eloquence, but critiqued for infectious immorality. As a popular novelist and self-identified artist, she occupied an uncertain space in the literary imagination, and her relationships with publishers were—with the exception of her friend, Bernhard Tauchnitz— often volatile and disadvantageous. A libertarian, democrat, and individualist, her novels, short stories, and critical essays espouse cosmopolitanism, anti-imperialism, eco-criticism, and animal rights, but are also suffused by misogynist or antisemitic commentary. 

Following her (now-contested) dismissal from the feminist canon, scholarly interest in Ouida has been resurging in recent years. Despite many excellent contributions from various fields, as a staple of the Victorian and pan-European literary landscape she remains crucially understudied. This Study Day aims to bring together scholars contributing to any aspect of Ouida scholarship, whether through recent and ongoing projects or at any point in the past. We want to contribute to building lasting networks of Ouida scholars and fans, facilitate dialogue and exchange, and make visible the vital work that is being done on a complex, sometimes confounding woman writer, yet which is also often scattered across disciplines and genres. Our aim is to consider how Ouida’s life and work challenge or complicate dominant meta-narratives of Victorian paradigms about gender, genre, culture, and identity, but also highlight and discuss Ouida’s legacy in collections and archives, as well as the practical and theoretical challenges of Ouida scholarship across time. 

We hope this Study Day will invigorate the exchange of ideas and projects and provide a forum in which to celebrate an extraordinary Victorian personality, for example through a concomitant online exhibition or neo-Victorian fan perspectives. We aim to publish a collection of selected papers after the event. 

We invite papers on topics including, but not limited to:

 
  • Ouida’s life: Langham salon, military friendships, Florentine circles, Ouida as a celebrity, her correspondences & friendships (with Burton, Blunt, Tauchnitz…), her biographies, etc. 

  • Ouida, her literary contemporaries, & the marketplace: M.E. Braddon, Marie Corelli, Vernon Lee, G. A. Lawrence, Ouida as inspiration or competitor, etc. 

  • Ouida & publishing: Chapman & Hall vs Chatto & Windus, Tauchnitz, Heinemann, Lippincott, Review des Deux Mondes, serial publications, marketing, etc. 

  • Ouida as aesthete or decadent icon: proto-aestheticism, Oscar Wilde, Max Beerbohm, Algernon Swinburne, G.S. Street, Gabriele D’Annunzio 

  • Ouida across genres & modes: muscular adventure, sensation, social satire, New Woman fiction, romanticism vs realism, eco-criticism, political satire, etc. 

  • Ouida’s short stories & critical essays 

  • Ouida international: cosmopolitanism, Baden Baden, Paris, summer capitals, Italian novels, anti-imperialism, translations, reception (France, Italy, Japan, etc) 

  • Ouida’s politics: libertarianism, anti-authoritarianism, animal rights (horses and dogs, especially), New Woman debate, etc. 

  • Ouida & gender: Masculinity, masculine heroism, homosociality, potential queerness, femininity, female agency, misogyny, etc. 

  • Ouida’s afterlives: 20C collections, biographies, Belgian statues, Japanese animes, etc. 

  • Ouida in the archive: researching, collecting, teaching, and studying Ouida then vs now, etc.

NOTES FROM THE NILE: Egypt in the Long Nineteenth Century (2023)

University of Birmingham | September 15th 2023

Organised by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the University of Roehampton.

Keynote: Dr Eleanor Dobson (Associate Prof in English Literature at the University of Birmingham)

Dr Leire Olabarria (Lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Birmingham) will run a session on the amassing of Egyptian collections in the long nineteenth century, with a focus on Britain and the Eton-Myers Collection.

Call for Papers

Egypt has long been a subject of interest for literary, cultural, and political exchange. This interest was perhaps most salient in the nineteenth century – when empires ruled the world, and Egypt was pillaged for its resources and artefacts. Questions of ethics and morality were present throughout the century but were often shelved or paled in favour of grand tales of exploration, discovery, and revival. This conference intends to explore the alluring fictional tales in the period but is also interested in where historical accuracy has given way to creative license, what audiences have been considered, and how Egyptology was ‘consumed’ in the nineteenth century.

We invite papers on topics including, but not limited to:


  • Egyptian language
  • Art, architecture and/or landscape
  • Archaeology
  • Fictional or historical accounts
  • Epigraphy
  • Museum studies
  • Other
  • The ethics of displaying Egyptian bodies
  • Ancient Egyptian bodies and science
  • Travel writing
  • Mummy curse stories
  • Non-human bodies: animals, insects, etc.
  • Race, gender, sexuality and/or class
  • Ability / disability

To see the full programme, take a look at the study day website https://notesfromnile.wordpress.com/.

Women and the East: Gendered Narratives of Encounter in Victorian Popular Writing (2022)

Please click here to view the full programme (PDF), Study Day poster (PDF) or visit the Women and the East Study Day website for the full programme.

10th & 11th June 2022
G. d’Annunzio University, Chieti-Pescara, Italy (Host institution)
in collaboration with Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK.

Conference venue (online participation is also possible):
Dipartimento di Lingue, Letterature e Culture Moderne,
G. d’Annunzio University, Pescara, Italy

Organisers:
Claudia Capancioni (Bishop Grosseteste University),
Mariaconcetta Costantini (G. d’Annunzio University),
Mara Mattoscio (G. d’Annunzio University)

Keynote Speaker: Professor Julia Kuehn (The University of Hong Kong)

Call for Papers

This Study Day wants to reflect on the allure of travelling to the East in the nineteenth century – from the Balkans to the Middle and Far East – by exploring stories of travel and narratives of encounter in Victorian popular writings, both fictional and non-fictional. Special attention will be paid to the female gendering of these narratives meant in two different ways: either as the gender identity of Victorian travellers who authored travelogues or fictions based on their experiences in the East, or as the representation of Eastern femininity in the age’s writings. What the Study Day aims to explore is the extent to which popular writers of the time drew on this particular combination of femininity and Eastern imaginary, producing enthralling stories that sometimes take the shape of proper fictional works, other times appear as narratives embedded in travelogues, essays or (auto)biographies.

In the Victorian era, the East was a source of inspiration for many artists, intellectuals, and writers, and a popular feature in publishing. The increasing complexity of the geo-politics of the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia did not deter the British leisure industry that had found in steam locomotion a means to transform travelling and its accessibility. Journeys to the religious and archaeological sites of Egypt and the Holy Land became more comfortable, faster, and safer. Turkey and Syria attracted several visitors, even though southern Anatolia remained conceived as terra incognita until the following century. Rising numbers of explorers faced physical hardships and local people’s hostility in remote Balkan areas, such as Northern Albania. Asian outposts of the British Empire like India became important destinations of people travelling for either work or pleasure, while the lure of China, South-East Asia and Japan was strongly felt.

What all these lands shared, in Victorian popular imagination, was an exoticism tinged with Orientalist clichés. Though consisting of a vast array of cultures and populations, the East was also an imaginary construct made of mysteries and Arabian Nights fantasies, sheiks and emperors, dangers and luxuries, divided into two macro-categories: the Islamized and partly Arabized Middle East, which also included Egypt and some Balkan areas, and the fabulous Far East, loosely associated with opium, lotus-flowers, tigers and headhunters. Orientalist stereotypes abounded in popular fictions of the time which drew largely on Eastern folklore and narratives embedded in travelogues. For its part, travel writing was influenced by fictional depictions of the East, which were either attached romantic and sensual connotations, or highly sensationalized. The example of the Balkans is revealing. A culturally heterogeneous area of Europe inhabited by different populations, the Balkans tended to be perceived as an imaginary expanse of mysteries and bloodshed, which inspired fantasy stories and gothic narratives based on local folklore, such as LeFanu’s and Stoker’s vampire stories. Similarly, the passion for Egyptology nourished thrilling fictions of curse and persecution, such as Marsh’s The Beetle (1897), while interethnic relations in India triggered provocative representations of women in Kipling’s short stories, Dinah Craik’s The Half-Caste (1851) and M. E. Braddon’s Aurora Floyd (1862-3). Rich in sensationalism were also the travelogues composed by women who visited Eastern regions. Among the latter, it is worth remembering Edith Durham’s fictionalized reports of her Northern Albanian explorations, Amelia Edwards’s A Thousand Miles Up the Nile (1877), Sophia Lane Poole’s and Lucie Duff Gordon’s letters based on their journeys to Egypt, and Isabella Lucy Bird’s exciting reportages of her trips to China, Japan, and the Malay Peninsula. These narratives were the products of a fertile ‘dialogue’ between popular literature and travel reports, which is found also in representations of other Eastern regions.

The focus for this Study Day will be on narratives by women writers or writings about women of the East. The centrality of female identity is due to the increasing relevance of the Woman Question during the century and the new opportunities for travel Victorian women gained, moving unchaperoned off the beaten tracks.  Both as writers and subjects, women are instrumental to the development of new approaches to otherness, owing to their experiences of exclusions as the ‘other’, the alien in patriarchal systems divided along gender lines. If British women sought autonomy in travelling showing a special sympathy for and understanding of ethnocultural diversity, the observation and portrayal of Eastern women in travelogues and fictions encouraged reflection on patriarchal gender modelling, as evidenced by popular representations of veiled women, harems, sati, or domestic female incarceration.

This Study Day intersects three essential aspects of popular Victorian culture – the changing understanding of gender roles, the travelling conditions in their embodied and narrated incarnations, and the Victorian perception of the Eastern space/time – as a way of illuminating some lesser explored driving forces of societal transformation in Victorian times. It aims to delve deep into the common prejudiced adoption of an Orientalist approach (in Said’s terms) as well as into alternative approaches to religious and cultural otherness which, especially in the case of women, frequently led to self-exploration, the questioning of patriarchy in its diverse cultural manifestations (e.g., Islamic, Hinduist, Christian, etc.) and the rethinking of gender roles and education.

Speakers will examine connections between women and the East in relation to a variety of Victorian popular texts: novels and short stories, (auto)biographies, journal essays and contributions to periodicals, travelogues embedding narratives of travel, encounter and cross-cultural exchange.

We hope this study day event will offer many opportunities for sharing ideas, projects, and connections also through activities that we are planning, which include a conference meal and trips to museums.

Read a report of the Study Day here.

Rhoda Broughton and Her Contemporaries: A Centenary Conference (2021)

11th September 2021, University of Greenwich, London.

A virtual conference to commemorate the centenary of Rhoda Broughton’s death.

Hosted by the VPFA and co-organised with Dr. Graziella Stringos. 

Keynote: Prof Tamar Heller (University of Cincinnati)

Rhoda Broughton (1840-1920) was considered one of the queens of the circulating library in Victorian England. Broughton is the author of more than twenty novels and a collection of short stories, the latter featuring supernatural and mysterious elements. Her first two novels, Cometh up as a Flower and Not Wisely but too Well, earned her the reputation of a sensation writer; they were followed by other works containing sensational elements and subject-matter, and featuring rebellious, impetuous, passionate but often naïve heroines. She later resorted to one-volume novels in which she revealed skill and depth. These gems include A BeginnerLavinia and Mamma. Constant staples of her writing are her wit, her humour and her observant eye.

This centenary conference aims to assess the significance of Broughton’s literary career, covering from the late Victorian period to the Modernist era. It seeks to underline her influence on her contemporaries and on subsequent writers. It also encourages the evaluation of the variety of subgenres that she experimented with, including, sensation fiction, domestic fiction and the New Woman novel, so that her idiosyncratic style of writing and her contribution to Victorian and twentieth-century literature can be further highlighted. The conference also welcomes comparative studies.

Click to download the Programme (Word).

Religion and Victorian Popular Literature and Culture (2021)

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Religion and Victorian Popular Fiction Study Day was postponed from 2020 to 2021. In May 2020, the VPFA held a Twitter Taster for #VPFAReligion Twitter Taster which is archived here

6th – 8th May 2021 (Online)
 
Hosted by the VPFA and organised by Dr. Naomi Hetherington (University of Sheffield) and Dr. Clare Stainthorp (QMUL).
 

Keynote:  Anne-Marie Beller (Loughborough University) and Kerry Featherstone (Loughborough University) – “No greater spiritual beauty than fanaticism”: Women Travellers’ Encounters with Islam in the Nineteenth Century.

The category of the popular has played a significant role in the ‘religious turn’ in Victorian studies over the last two decades. Historians of Victorian religion have turned to popular culture and folklore to challenge traditional paradigms of decline and secularisation. Amongst scholars of Victorian literature and visual culture, there has been an upsurge of interest in the influence of new religious movements on popular literary and visual forms. This colloquium aims to extend our understanding of the relationship between religion and popular culture in the Victorian period by bringing together researchers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds to explore the expression and representation of religion in popular culture texts of all kinds.

Click to view the Programme (PDF) and Abstracts (PDF). See conference tweets at #VPFAReligion.

 Click here to read “Heartfelt Thanks to the Victorian Pumpkin Fiction Association”, a poem based on closed captions from the colloquium by Kerry Featherstone.

The Threatened Child in Nineteenth-Century Popular Fiction and Culture (2019)

 

Co-hosted by the Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Humanities Institute, University College Dublin

Friday, 20th September 2019

Keynote: Professor Kathryn Hughes (University of East Anglia)

Owing to rapid population growth coupled with high mortality rates, nineteenth-century Britain was a young society, with those under fourteen constituting from between a third to forty percent of the population. While the romantic conception of childhood as an ideal, innocent state gained widespread acceptance during the nineteenth century, at the same time the realities of child neglect, exploitation, physical and sexual abuse were well known.

Walking Tour: Victorian Gothic Dublin, followed by dinner

Click here to visit the Victorian Children blog.

Click to download the Programme (Word) and the Conference Report (Word).

Contact the organisers, Ailise Bulfin and Leanne Waters, for more information.

Twitter hashtag: #VPFAChildren

Victorian Animal Encounters (2018)

Co-Hosted by the University of Portsmouth, the Liverpool John Moores and the Victorian Popular Fiction Association

Friday 4th May 2018, University of Portsmouth

“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).

Click to read the Victorian Animal Encounters – Booklet (PDF).

Organised by Christopher Pittard and Nickianne Moody.A Gothic illustration of a woman surrounded by black cats

Twitter hashtag: #VPFAnimals

"A Sudden Swift Impression": Re-Examining the Victorian Short Story (2018)

Co-hosted by the Victorian Popular Fiction Association and the Short Story Network

Saturday 27th January 2018, University of Brighton

Keynote: Dr Emma Liggins, Manchester Metropolitan University

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 explored 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.

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word) and Abstracts and Biographies (Word). Email the organisers Vicky Margree and Lucy Andrew for more details.

 

Victorian Animals (2017)

Co-hosted by the Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Liverpool John Moores University 

18th November 2017, Aldham Roberts Library, Liverpool John Moores University

Keynote Speaker: Steven Gray, Portsmouth

Click here to download the Conference Programme (Word).

Email the organisers, Joanne Knowles and Christopher Pittard, for more details.

Twitter hashtag: #VPFAnimals

 

Mystery and Medicine: The Dark Side of Science in Victorian Fiction (2017)

Co-hosted by the Victorian Popular Fiction Association and NUI Galway

8th June 2017, National University of Ireland, Galway

Keynote speakers: Ms Sarah Wise (Author) and Mr Alexander Black (NUI Galway)

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

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. This study day explores representations of medicine and mystery in the Victorian era, welcoming speakers from Literary History, Medical History, and Medical Humanities backgrounds

Visit the Medicine and Mystery blog here.

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word).

Email the organisers, Dr Anna Gasperini and Dr Paul Rooney at medicineandmystery19@gmail.com for more details. 

Twitter: @meds_myst19Illustration of a skeleton

Victorian Popular Collaborations (2017)

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

22nd April 2017, Manchester Metropolitan University, Cheshire Campus

Keynote Speaker: Patricia Pulham, Portsmouth

Afternoon Tea at the Brasserie, Crewe Hall Hotel

“Collaboration is one of the literary features of our age, and at the present rate of progression there seems to be some prospect of it attaining alarming proportions in the future” (Walter Besant, ‘Guide to Matrimony’ in the St. Valentine’s edition of Hearth and Home, 1892)

This VPFA Study Day asks whether it is possible to understand the full complexity of the nineteenth-century literary tradition without acknowledging that, as the result of the expansion of the literary marketplace, there was a marked proliferation of collaborative modes of writing. Across the century co-authorship, multiple authorship and networks of collaborators of all kinds became increasingly common and visible.

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word).

Email Janine Hatter and Kirsty Bunting for more details.

Twitter hashtag: #VPFACollaborations

Collaborations Image

The 'Heart' and 'Science' of Wilkie Collins and his Contemporaries (2016)

Co-hosted by Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Wilkie Collins Journal

24th September 2016, Barts Pathology Museum, London

Keynote Speaker: 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.

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word). Organised by Jo Parsons and Verity Burke.

Dressed to Kill: Fashion in Victorian Fiction and Periodicals (2016)

Co-hosted by Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Liverpool John Moores University

Saturday 19th March 2016, Aldham Robarts Library, LJMU

Keynote Speaker: Royce Mahawatte, Central St Martins

Featuring The Liddell Hart Collection of Costume (LHCC)

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word). Organised by Janine Hatter and Nickianne Moody. Twitter hastag: #VPFAFashionIllustration of two Victorian women in fashionable clothes.

Sensational Men: Victorian Masculinity in Sensation Fiction, Theatre and the Arts (2015)

Co-hosted by the Victorian Popular Fiction Association and Falmouth University

18th April 2015, Falmouth University, Cornwall

Keynote Speaker: William Hughes, Bath Spa University 

Keynote Speaker: Andy Smith, University of Sheffield

Villainous, feminised, weak and wanting; men in the sensation genre are often seen as lacking. Critical readings of the genre, moreover, have tended to focus on its constructions of femininity, largely neglecting representations of men and masculinity. Examining the under-explored subject of Victorian men, masculinity and sensation, “Sensational Men: Victorian Masculinity in Sensation Fiction, Theatre and the Arts” represents a timely and important intervention in the field.

This one day symposium at Falmouth University provides a point of focus and intellectual exchange for scholars working in many different fields such as: popular fiction studies, theatre studies, Gothic studies, art history, early photography and film, theories of gender, sexuality and nation in nineteenth century studies.

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word). Contact Ruth Heholt for more details.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Solutions and Resolutions (2014)

20th September 2014, Senate House, London

Keynote: Prof. Don Richard Cox

Charles Dickens’s last novel, unfinished as it is, has become a call to arms to a legion of fans, academics and authors to solve the mystery and complete the uncompleted. In the early years after Dickens’s death, passionate discussions of Drood formed the vast bulk of criticism of his works, while later scholars have looked back upon this formative period with a mixture of bemusement and embarrassment. In 2014 The Drood Inquiry will investigate and celebrate the many weird and wonderful responses to Dickens’s story, exploring the ways in which these solutions reflect upon the authors’ attitudes to Dickens and his legacy, and how Dickens’s story and characters exist both within the boundaries of the original text and without in the numerous spin-offs that have arisen.

This one-day conference commemorates the launch of The Drood Inquiry, playing upon some of those themes as well as allowing the opportunity to consider Edwin Drood afresh, not purely as a puzzle to be solved but as a work of literature to be analysed and celebrated in its own right.

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word). Contact Peter Orford for further details. For updates you can follow us on Twitter @Drood_Inquiry or visit the Cloisterham Tales website

The Life and Works of Wilkie Collins (2013)

9th November 2013, Senate House, London

Keynote Speaker: William Baker

Click to download the Conference Programme (Word).

Contact Janice Allan OR Joanne Ella Parsons for more details.

Sensation and Speculation in Popular Fiction (2013)

27th April 2013, Senate House

Keynote Speaker: Steve McLean

Keynote Speaker: Pete Orford

Keynote Speaker: Barbara Vrachnas

Click to read the Study Day Programme (PDF).

Illustration of alien craft hovering over a graveyard

Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Amelia B. Edwards (2011)

5th March 2011, Senate House, London

Keynote Speaker: Tara MacDonald

Keynote Speaker: Anne-Marie Beller

Click to read the Study Day Programme (PDF).

Science and Education in Popular Fiction (2010)

22nd May 2010, Senate House, London

Keynote Speaker: Janice Allan

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Mangham

Click to read the Study Day Programme (PDF).

Popular Fiction Beyond the Canon (2010)

6th March 2010, Kingston University

Keynote Speaker: Liz Thiel

Keynote Speaker: John Spiers

Click to read the Study Day Programme (PDF).

Teaching Popular Fiction in Academia (2009)

31st October 2009, Kingston University

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Maunder

Keynote Speaker: Nickianne Moody

Click to read the Study Day Programme (PDF).

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