Forthcoming Study Days

‘Religion and Victorian Popular Literature and Culture’  Colloquium

 Thursday 6th – Saturday 8th May 2021 (online)

Download the  Programme, read the Abstracts, and Register to attend.

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.

The event will open with a live keynote paper by Anne-Marie Beller and Kerry Featherstone, titled ‘“No greater spiritual beauty than fanaticism”: Women Travellers’ Encounters with Islam in the Nineteenth Century’ on Thursday 6 May (17:00-18:00 GMT). Focusing on accounts of Afghanistan, Egypt, India, and Algeria by Florentia Sale, Amelia B. Edwards, Emily Eden, and Isabelle Eberhardt respectively, Beller and Featherston will examine their representations of Islam and Islamic culture in the countries through which they travelled, to evaluate the extent to which their own respective religious, political, ideological and social positions shaped the encounters about which they wrote.

This session will be followed by six discussion panels split over two days (15:00-18:00 GMT, Friday 7 and Saturday 8 May). These panels will provide an opportunity to consider themes and topics raised by recorded papers, which will be made available to attendees from Thursday 29 April.

‘Rhoda Broughton and Her Contemporaries: A Centenary Conference’

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 Speaker: 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.

Please send proposals for 20-minute papers on topics that might include, but are in no way
limited to, the following:

  • Broughton as a public figure
  • Broughton and her publishers
  • Broughton and the circulating library
  • Broughton’s influence on the contemporary marketplace
  • Broughton’s critical reception then and the reassessment of her work now
  • Broughton and Shakespeare
  • Broughton and Jane Austen
  • Broughton and the Brontë sisters
  • Broughton and George Eliot
  • Broughton and the French novel
  • Broughton and her contemporaries: mentoring, friendships, literary rivals, etc. (including Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Henry James, Anne Thackeray-Ritchie, Edith Wharton and Oscar Wilde)
  • Broughton, Modernists and Modernism
  • Broughton and other art forms and media (including adaptations of her work to drama and film)
  • Broughton and sensation fiction
  • Broughton and domestic fiction
  • Broughton and the New Woman novel
  • Broughton and satire and parody
  • Humour in Broughton’s fiction
  • Subversion versus endorsement of convention in Broughton’s fiction
  • Love in Broughton’s fiction
  • Sexuality in Broughton’s fiction
  • Gender issues in Broughton’s fiction
  • Male and female types in Broughton’s fiction
  • The Woman Question in Broughton’s fiction
  • Family in Broughton’s fiction
  • Nature in Broughton’s fiction
  • Place in Broughton’s fiction
  • Illness and death in Broughton’s fiction
  • Gothic elements and the supernatural in Broughton’s fiction
  • Psychology in Broughton’s fiction
  • Feminist readings of Broughton’s fiction

Please send proposals of not more than 300 words and a 100-word biography in Word format to Dr Graziella Stringos at by not later than Friday 30th April 2021 (those who submitted for 2020 need not reapply) 

If you are interested in running a VPFA study day, please download the Study Day Proposal Form, and email it to Drs Janine Hatter and Helena Ifill