CFP: George Eliot 2019: An International Bi-Centenary Conference 

Date: 17–19 July 2019

Location: College Court, University of Leicester

Plenary Speakers: Professor Rosemary Ashton (UCL) and Professor Nancy Henry (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Deadline for proposals: 14 January 2019

Call for papers

This conference will examine the legacy of George Eliot alongside trends in contemporary critical work, bringing together scholars from around the world to mark the bicentenary of her birth. We invite proposals for papers and for 3-4 person panels on any subject relating to Eliot and her work, her influence on and relationships with her contemporaries, and the critical and cultural effects of her writing. Eliot’s own range of interests were encyclopaedic and global: the conference organisers welcome proposals reflecting this scope and depth. We invite proposals from researchers at all career stages from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and welcome submissions from creative writers.

A guided tour of sites associated with the novelist and her works, including Griff House and the private estate of Arbury Hall, will be on offer as part of the conference, as will early career scholar networking and optional mentoring by senior academics.

Proposals for individual papers (300 words) and panels (1000 words) should be submitted to by 14 January 2019. Applicants should include a brief biographical note of up to 150 words. Continue reading “CFP: George Eliot 2019: An International Bi-Centenary Conference “


CFP: ‘Ailing Empires: Medicine, Science, and Imperialism’, Edinburgh

Date: 31st May 2019

Location: University of Edinburgh

Deadline for Proposals: 8th February 2019

Ailing Empires: Medicine, Science, and Imperialism: Interdisciplinary Symposium

Keynote speaker: Dr Samiksha Sehrawat (Newcastle)

Twitter: @AEconference

2018 has begun as a period of renewed public and academic debate over the history and legacies of colonialism. Among their many faults, detached inquiries regarding the supposed benefits of colonial endeavours, however, miss the significance of everyday experiences of empire as expressed in a range of historical, literary, and visual evidence.

‘Ailing Empires’ is a one-day symposium that seeks to explore the extent to which narratives of health, medicine and science are inextricably bound with experiences of empire and colonialism throughout the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. Through focus on a range of colonial contexts, textualities and sources, this symposium hopes to address questions such as: How did different colonial empires instrumentalise medicine and science? What role did healthcare and/or science play within the respective colonial project? Is ‘medical imperialism’ a useful term across different colonial contexts? In what way(s) did exchanges between Western and non-Western medical knowledge function as contact zones? How can scholarship engage with legacies of colonial medicine in the postcolonial age?

In order to explore these questions, we invite papers and presentations from a variety of disciplinary and comparative perspectives from across the humanities, and particularly encourage submissions from postgraduate and early-career researchers.

Continue reading “CFP: ‘Ailing Empires: Medicine, Science, and Imperialism’, Edinburgh”

Mini-Adventures in the Life of a Victorianist #3: The Reichenbach Filing Cabinet; or, how it feels to be told you’ve accidentally destroyed a first edition run of Sherlock Holmes


Several weeks ago, as the summer drew to a close, my department was having some office reshuffles as people moved into new roles for the 2018-19 session.

My good pal, who shall be known here as Dr Beard, was moving into an office which had, once upon a time, belonged to me. This was also the room in which, for max security, I was storing in a locked filing cabinet an original set of Strand Magazines from the 1890s featuring a complete run of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with illustrations by Sidney Paget.

2 page Strand spread

With Dr Beard moving in I figured it was probably time to find a new home for Sherlock and so I went, key in hand, to retrieve the Strand mags. Continue reading “Mini-Adventures in the Life of a Victorianist #3: The Reichenbach Filing Cabinet; or, how it feels to be told you’ve accidentally destroyed a first edition run of Sherlock Holmes”

The Purple Cloud Reading Group

Read along with an understudied and utterly bizarre 1901 novel and share your thoughts by following @PurpleCloudRG


Ever wandered around your local bookshop and thought ‘Hmm…what I’m really in the mood for today is a novel about a Victorian bloke who goes on an expedition to the North Pole, manages to release a mysterious cloud of purple gas which wipes out the whole of humanity except for him, quickly goes mad (probably aided by all of the opium and marijuana he’s been taking), reinvents himself as Emperor of Earth, and sails around the world getting really high and burning all major cities to the ground before stumbling across a feral young woman who also escaped the toxic effects of the cloud and asking himself the age old question: should I cannibalise her, or make her my girlfriend?’

No? Well, my friend, now’s your chance!  Continue reading “The Purple Cloud Reading Group”

CFP: Neo-Victorianism and the Senses: Sensing the Past

Call for Papers: Neo-Victorianism and the Senses: Sensing the Past

Wednesday 13th March 2019, University of Surrey (UK)

Keynote Speaker: Professor Rosario Arias, University of Málaga

‘Every sensorial perception is at the same time past and present’ (Hamilakis, 2013).

Since the publication of William A. Cohen’s seminal text Embodied: Victorian Literature and the Senses (2009), the senses in Victorian literature and culture have come to signify an area of burgeoning interest. In turn, a focus on sensory modalities has proven particularly fruitful for framing contemporary perceptions of the past in neo-Victorian fiction during the last few years (e.g. Silvana Colella; Rosario Arias; Patricia Pulham).

In light of this increased scholarly attention, this one-day symposium seeks to highlight the critical role the senses play in shaping literary, filmic, and theatrical revisions of the long nineteenth century and in bridging the gap between past and present. Following the recent ‘material turn’ and employing critical approaches such as phenomenology and sensory studies, this symposium interrogates the role of the senses in the construction and negotiation of the past in neo-Victorian literature, film, television, theatre, art, and fashion.

Possible topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • The five senses in/and neo-Victorianism: touch, taste (literal and aesthetic), sound, smell, and sight (re/vision).
  • The ‘sixth sense’: extrasensory perception; intuition; sensing the supernatural; haunting and spectrality; the trace.
  • Intersensoriality and synaesthesia.
  • Sensuality; sensuousness; indulging in/ inhabiting the past.
  • Sensations: the neo-sensation novel; pain and/or pleasure.
  • Critical approaches to neo-Victorianism: phenomenology, sensory studies, affect, and materiality.

The organisers welcome proposals for 20-minute papers, or panels, which consider the senses in neo-Victorian literature and culture from a variety of disciplines.

Please send 250-word abstracts, with a 50-word biography to, & by 16th December 2018.

Mini-Adventures in the Life of a Victorianist #2: Revenge of the Chihuahuadiles

It was a fine, sunny, mid-August day and Husband and I, still basking in the peace and quiet of having tamed the fearsome chihuahuadiles, were awaiting the arrival of Baby Niece and her parents for a long weekend.

Now this visit had been the cause of both excitement and trepidation. We are two Victorianists in one household, we both specialize in the fin-de-siecle and needless to say this has produced some zany-as-balls collecting habits.

So between the bugs and the masks and the books, Husband had been fragilely angsting for several days about the prospect of two-year-old Niece rampaging through the house, crayons in hand, like a tiny Godzilla without thought or care for provenance or the need to USE A BOOK CRADLE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!



In the end, though, Baby Niece turned out to be an absolute delight. We went to the beach, we visited the woods in search of squirrels and Gruffalos, we indulged her love of dinosaurs (and abused our role as aunt and uncle who don’t need to deal with the fallout of baby fears) by sneakily showing her the edited highlights of Jurassic Park. No, my friends, Baby Niece was a dream. The real horror – the terror we could not have anticipated – was merely biding its time and waiting for its moment to strike.

Continue reading “Mini-Adventures in the Life of a Victorianist #2: Revenge of the Chihuahuadiles”

Mini adventures in the life of a Victorianist #1: The Vanquishing of the Chihuahua-diles,

**No chihuahuadiles were harmed in the making of this blog. Also, I’m going to swear. A lot. Don’t read on if that offends you.**

Back in September we moved house. And all was fine and good.

Then our next door neighbours moved in to their house. And still all was good.

Then our next door neighbours had some kind of collective fucking brain fart – a common sense embolism, if you will – and decided it would be just a darling idea to buy a pair of little white chihuahuas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, when they were little puppies (read: ‘incapable of producing SHRILL SCREECHING MOTHER F- ahem, excuse me. When they were… quieter) they were pretty darn cute.

IMG_2102Also, I should clarify: I am very much a dog person. But my love of dogs extends primarily to dogs that don’t give you the fear, every time you sit down on the sofa, that you’re about to crush one of them; dogs that aren’t a risk for being yoinked away by birds of prey when out for a walk; dogs that can carry off names like Arrow, Pilot, or Achilles.


I don’t know the names of next door’s chihuahuas (Husband and I have taken to referring to them as Sauron and Morgoth), but within a few months it became clear that these things are EVIL INCARNATE. I should have suspected as much when, within weeks of their arrival next door’s cat was like ‘NOPE’ and left without warning in the night. Alas, I now fear that’s the best case scenario and a more likely explanation is that the chihuahuas have done for him and buried his body in the walls.

The full horror of the situation became clear one evening around Christmas time when our peace was disturbed by the sound of something being viciously savaged in next door’s garden. We ran to the upstairs window in time to witness the chihuahuas dragging the sad carcass of a teddy bear (our neighbours have a little boy) across the lawn and ferociously ripping it to shreds like a pair of crocodiles with a zebra. There were full-on death rolls, there was thrashing and shaking and snarling and snapping….and all the while the poor teddy bear stared up at us as if to say ‘Kill meeeeeee!’ while the chihuahuas went at it like it was feeding time at Jurassic Park.

And thus the Chihuahuadiles were born.


A brief lesson in the anatomy of Chihuahuadilus Assholius:


Continue reading “Mini adventures in the life of a Victorianist #1: The Vanquishing of the Chihuahua-diles,”

Creative Competition: Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century

Calling all creative-types, artists, academics, 19thC researchers and Sherlock Holmes fans!

The organizers of the ‘Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century’ conference (Edge Hill University, September 13th-14th 2018) are inviting submissions of creative works which explore any aspect of nineteenth-century substance use and abuse in one image:

  • Photography, painting, digital art, mixed media, posters?
  • Still lives of drug paraphernalia?
  • Microscopic images of chemical compounds
  • Mapping nineteenth-century drug use?
  • A sculpture featuring Sherlock Holmes’s 243 types of tobacco ash?!

The ‘Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century’ conference will bring together international, interdisciplinary researchers from Medical Humanities, the History of Medicine, and Romantic/Victorian literature to examine the changing roles of substances for therapy, medication, and recreation in the nineteenth century.

This competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students, lecturers and researchers, and members of the public.

Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at the conference, 13th – 14thSeptember 2018 at Edge Hill University.

First prize: £100.

Head Judge: Stephen Whittle. Principle Manager, The Atkinson Southport.

Deadline for entries: 17th August 2018.

For full terms and conditions and to enter, download entry form here and send it, along with your submission, to 


Some Great (and some not so great) Fathers from Victorian Fiction

It’s Father’s Day and I thought I’d compile a list of some of the best dads from my favourite Victorian novels. But oh boy, it turns out that I was wandering blithely into a wilderness and that nice, stable father figures don’t make for very compelling fiction. Drat!

Fear not, I have hunted high and low and found some of the good’uns (even if one of them is a wolf) to go alongside the wrong’uns. And so, without further ado:

*SPOILER WARNINGS for novels mentioned*

1. Good’un: Bob Cratchit, A Christmas Carol

You all know this one, I’m sure. Bob Cratchit is the epitome of the kind of hard-working, domestic masculinity that Dickens idolises time and again in his novels. Though Bob earns ‘but fifteen “Bob” a-week himself’ his modest home, stuffed with children and a goose, is the kind of Christmassy Victorian idyll that needs to be slapped on a tin of shortbread or, better yet, a Muppets Movie.

Muppets Christmas

2. Good’un: Akela, The Jungle Books

Though not technically Mowgli’s father in either a biological or adoptive sense, Akela leads the Seeonee wolf pack (though it should be mentioned that he, like all the wolves remain just a little bit terrified of Mowgli’s mother Raksha ‘The Demon’, who is way more badass than the original Disney animation would have us believe).

Continue reading “Some Great (and some not so great) Fathers from Victorian Fiction”

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