VPFA Annual Conference

 ‘Hidden Histories / Recovered Stories’

Victorian Popular Fiction Association 15th Annual Conference

12-14th July 2023

Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK

Keynote Speakers

Professor Patricia Pulham (University of Surrey, UK)

Dr Adrian S. Wisnicki (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, US)

Professor Nathalie Vanfasse (Aix-Marseille Université, FR)

Call for Papers

The Victorian Popular Fiction Association is dedicated to fostering interest in understudied popular writers, literary genres and other cultural forms, and to facilitating the production of publishable research and academic collaborations amongst scholars of the popular.

This conference celebrates the ways in which Victorian popular culture, fictions and artistic productions addressed topics and subjects, and experimented with stories and genres, that went unacknowledged, were repressed or censored by the mainstream. We are interested in, on the one hand, the hidden, lost, forgotten, and on the other hand the recovered, reclaimed, remembered.

The conference seeks to re-centre the popular, from gruesome murder stories to sensational tales of sexual violence and adultery, discussions of pseudo-sciences like spiritualism, to addressing miscegenation, and Victorian historical fiction that reimagines the lives of marginalised figures. It wants to also highlight the ways in which current scholarship is rediscovering hidden aspects, characters and narratives of the Victorian period.

We also invite papers exploring the relevance of forbidden or unspeakable themes in neo-Victorianism. Silenced by Victorian mainstream culture but obliquely voiced in such popular genres as the sensation novel, the penny dreadful and the bodice-ripper, these themes have taken centre stage in today’s fictionalisation of a past that tends to be reimagined in all its deviant, arousing and disquieting aspects. 

Possible topics include:

  • Forgotten and/or ignored global Victorians
  • The ‘lost world’: nature, animals and the environment
  • Challenges to the myth of progress, the monstrosity of science
  • Rediscoveries in Victorian and Neo-Victorian writing
  • Historical fiction (both Victorian and neo-Victorian)
  • Disability, diversity, and inclusivity
  • Decolonising and undisciplining
  • Forgotten aspects of Empire
  • Ethnical encounters, rehumanising the Other
  • Hidden genders and illicit sexuality
  • Translation and the transnational
  • Hidden, secret, forbidden spaces
  • The unspeakable, violence, and taboos
  • Fears of national and imperial weakness
  • Theorising the margins, the unspoken and affect
  • Censorship, targets of political repression and the spectre of social upheaval
  • Life writing, travel writing and the epistolary
  • Experimentation with forms and genres

Please send proposals of 250–300 words, a 50-word biography, twitter handle (if you have one) to Dr Claudia Capancioni, Prof. Mariaconcetta Costantini and Dr Laura Gill at: vpfaconference@gmail.com. The conference will take place at Bishop Grosseteste University (Lincoln, UK) as an in-person event, but online participation will be possible for accessibility. Please indicate in your abstract if you anticipate being unable to attend in person. Proposals for roundtables and reading group meetings responding to the conference theme are also welcome.

Deadline for proposals: Wednesday 8th February 2023.

Membership of the VPFA is necessary to attend the conference: click here to find out how to become a member.