VPFA Annual Conference

The 16th Annual Conference of the
Victorian Popular Fiction Association,

‘Places and Spaces in Victorian Popular Literature and Culture’

will take place at

Canterbury Christ Church University
Monday 15th – Wednesday 17th July 2024

VPFA 2024 is a hybrid conference, hosted in person and online with Zoom.

Image of the opening of the Crab and Winkle railway line, by permission of Marrin’s Bookshop

VPFA 2024 Conference Information

Final Conference Programme

The final version of the programme is now available. You can download it here:

Click here to download the final programme (PDF).

Please note, a version with links for the online Teams sessions will be circulated only to registered delegates.


Registration for the event will remain open through Friday 12 July. The conference dinner is no longer available to book.

To register, visit: https://shop.canterbury.ac.uk/product-catalogue/faculty-of-arts-humanities/school-of-humanities/victorian-popular-fiction-conference

Film Screening - Curzon Westgate

There are still a few spaces available for our Monday (15th) night film screening of The Happy Prince, introduced by Dr Helena Esser. To sign up, visit: https://www.curzon.com/films/cwfc-the-happy-prince/HO00005340/


This is a friendly reminder that all speakers must also be VPFA members. To join/renew for 2024-2025, please go to: https://victorianpopularfiction.org/membership-join/

Reading Group Information

Short Stories Reading Group: The Ghost Stories of E. Nesbit 

Three of the stories – ‘John Charrington’s Wedding’, ‘The Ebony Frame’ and ‘The Mass for the Dead’ come from Nesbit’s Grim Tales (1893). Available on Project Gutenberg: https://gutenberg.org/ebooks/40321 

‘Hurst of Hurstcote’ was published in Temple Bar (1893). Available on Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/1893hurstofhurstcoteenesbitintemplebarjune/mode/2up

Third Sex Reading Group: “Queer Places: The Cleveland Street Scandal”

All materials will be shared in a power point during the session, so there is no need to prepare. However, if you would like to read up (or listen up) on the Cleveland Street Scandal beforehand, you can do so here:

Call for Papers (please note the deadline has now passed)

If ‘space’ is understood as an area that can be objectively measured or at least conceptualised, the construction of ‘place’ depends on a range of affective and cultural meanings at any given moment.

Victorian writing persistently maps both collective and individual experience onto fully realised ‘spaces’. But the boundaries are often permeable or unstable: actual colonial spaces becoming places of the imagination; the continuing negotiation of domestic space through ideologies of place; the growth of London changing the status of the suburbs; amateur botanists beginning to alter the ecosystem of coastal communities.

Competing ideologies are filtered through the construction of ‘place’ in familiar phrases such as ‘no place like home’ and ‘knowing one’s place’. Place and space together come to embody meaning when a shift in political affiliation is asserted through ‘crossing the floor’ or the lyrical metaphor of ‘crossing the bar’ is used to raise religious questions.

In the nineteenth century, the steamship, the railway, the bicycle and ultimately the motor car, radically altered the experience of moving from one place to another; at the same time new spaces were opened up by social movements and the expansion of telecommunication and the periodical press.

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.

We invite a broad, imaginative and interdisciplinary interpretation on the topic of ‘Place and Space’ and its relation to any aspect of Victorian popular literature and culture that addresses literal or metaphorical representations of the theme. Inter- and multidisciplinary approaches are welcome, as are papers that address poetry, drama, global literature, non-fiction, visual arts, journalism, historical and social contexts. Papers addressing works from the ‘long Victorian period’ (i.e. before 1837 and after 1901) and on neo-Victorian texts/media are also welcome, so long as the links to the Victorian period are clear.

Please send proposals for 20-minute papers, panels of three papers (by individual scholars, or affiliated with another Learned Society), or non-traditional papers/panels, on topics that can include, but are not limited to:
  • Changing places
  • A woman’s place
  • House and home
  • Places of entrapment
  • Legal and criminal structures
  • Rural and industrial workplaces
  • The sub/urban, the City and the Country
  • Liminal spaces such as seas, rivers and the coast
  • Religious and sacred spaces
  • Memorialising
  • Holiday, Travel and Migration
  • Indoor/domestic/private spaces
  • Public/educational/institutional spaces
  • Historical sites and tourist destinations
  • Natural spaces
  • Gardens, conservatories and greenhouses
  • Place, race, class, sex, and gender
  • Placing/Misplacing/Replacing
  • Maps/mapping
  • Traversing place and space
  • The place of Victorian popular literature and culture in teaching

Please note, the deadline to submit a proposal has now passed.

Please send proposals of no more than 300 words, a 50-word biography, twitter handle (if you have one), your availability/time zones over the conference dates, and if you are thinking of attending in person or online, in Word format to Prof. Carolyn Oulton and Dr Susan Civale at: VPFAconference@gmail.com   

Deadline for proposals: 29 February 2024

Speakers should be members of the VPFA. To find out more, please visit the VPFA website: https://victorianpopularfiction.org/vpfa-annual-conference/.