Call for Submissions: Gothic Animals: Uncanny Otherness and the Animal With-Out

‘The boundary between the animal and the human has long been unstable, especially since the Victorian period. Where the boundary is drawn between human and animal is itself an expression of political power and dominance, and the “animal” can at once express the deepest fears and greatest aspirations of a society’ (Victorian Animal Dreams, 4).

‘The animal, like the ghost or good or evil spirit with which it is often associated, has been a manifestation of the uncanny’ (Timothy Clark, 185).

In the mid nineteenth-century Charles Darwin published his theories of evolution. And as Deborah Denenholz Morse and Martin A. Danahay suggest, ‘The effect of Darwin’s ideas was both to make the human more animal and the animal more human, destabilizing boundaries in both directions’ (Victorian Animal Dreams, 2). Nineteenth-century fiction quickly picked up on the idea of the ‘animal within’ with texts like R.L. Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau. In these novels the fear explored was of an unruly, defiant, degenerate and entirely amoral animality lying (mostly) dormant within all of us. This was our animal-other associated with the id: passions, appetites and capable of a complete disregard for all taboos and any restraint. As Cyndy Hendershot states, this ‘animal within’ ‘threatened to usurp masculine rationality and return man to a state of irrational chaos’ (The Animal Within, 97). This however, relates the animal to the human in a very specific, anthropocentric way. Non-humans and humans have other sorts of encounters too, and even before Darwin humans have often had an uneasy relationship with animals. Rats, horses, dogs, cats, birds and other beasts have, as Donna Haraway puts it, a way of ‘looking back’ at us (When Species Meet,19).  Continue reading “Call for Submissions: Gothic Animals: Uncanny Otherness and the Animal With-Out”


CFP: Punch Conference: Women in Punch 1841 – 1920

Thursday 2 November 2017, Senate House

Punch: or the London Charivari first appeared in 1841, published as a weekly magazine with a strong political agenda. Although some work has been done on the social reform agenda of Punch, very little is known about women in the magazine. Were there any women contributors? What representations of women appeared in the magazine, both in images and text? Women were certainly a subject for humour and caricature in Punch, but what were the political implications of those comic illustrations? What was the role played by verse in the depiction of women? Did the representation of women change significantly between 1841 and 1910, and if so, how and why? How do the caricatures and/or depictions of women in Punch differ or resemble those in other illustrated papers, such as the Comic Almanack (1835-1853), The Illustrated London News (1842-1989), the Man in the Moon (1847-1849), and Fun (1861-1901)? Queen Victoria subscribed to Punch; did it have many women subscribers and/or readers? How was the ‘New Women’ reported in the pages of the magazine? Was Punch interested in female education or the entry of women into the professions? Continue reading “CFP: Punch Conference: Women in Punch 1841 – 1920”

CFP: ‘War of the Worlds: Transnational Fears of Invasion and Conflict 1870-1933’

One-day international workshop organised by the Invasion Network at Lancaster University, 8th September 2017.

Call for Papers Deadline: 31st July 2017 

Key-note speaker: Professor Emeritus David Glover

Confirmed speakers include: Michael Hughes, Michael Matin and Antony Taylor

Continue reading “CFP: ‘War of the Worlds: Transnational Fears of Invasion and Conflict 1870-1933’”

CFP: Gothic gardens and the ecocritical uncanny, 1850-1920.

Gardens and their contexts were continually reassessed throughout the nineteenth century in form, content and significance as ownership, technologies and affective aesthetics shifted throughout the period. If, as Heather Sullivan posits, ‘place’ should be considered in the light of ‘material processes … continually occurring all around, through, and in us,’ the garden-place is a concentrated site of material processes, of patterns, of bodily interactions and of sensory perception. Gardens occupy spaces where neither industry nor absence are fully realised, and the construction of a garden requires human and non-human negotiation; they are ‘porous’, to quote Catherine Alexander on the permanently transitory nature of gardens. However, the intimacy provided by controlling the space ‘also works as an unsettling reminder of human entanglement with other bodies: plants, animals, microorganisms’, as Niamh Downing reminds us. Favourite spots for hauntings, gardens are already haunted by aspects of what they were, their revelations and their persistence in spite of humankind. Victorian gardens, in the UK and in countries where English-style gardening was popular generate a particularly resonant interaction between matter and the immaterial, between stringent control and its opposite; disintegration, and even violence. Victorian ‘sensation’ fiction provides unnerving images of what might be underground, feeding Sergeant Cuff’s roses, for example, in The Moonstone, or concealing Lady Audley’s secret. Gardens can be cages, mazes of bewilderment, full of shades where sunlight never penetrates. Toru Dutt, away from her beloved Calcutta childhood garden, sees her favourite ‘casuarina tree’ appear like a wished-for ghost, hears it mourn her absence ‘in eerie speech.’ In particular, Victorian literature and art focuses on the relationship between exterior and interior, in bodily materiality, whether real or imagined, in sentient or non-sentient beings. Stacy Alaimo’s concept of ‘trans-corporeality’ has the potential for literal flourishing in gardens. Downing adds that ‘nature’ ‘is always and already uncanny, strange and excessive, especially when we get up close and intimate’. Perhaps there is nothing more intimate, more controlled, than the apparently safe order of flower beds and greenhouses. John Ruskin’s appreciation of Gothic disorder in architecture praised ‘the glory and the ruin of nature’, rather than the ‘inhuman completeness of mastery’; disorder, though, is a creeping thing as well as a glorious expression of freedom.

The essay collection will be published by Manchester University Press, as part of the International Gothic Series.

Papers are invited (6000-8000 words max.) on possible topics with an emphasis in material ecocriticism and ecogothic, which may include but are not limited to:

·         Animal presences in gardens, dead or alive, pets, undomesticated creatures, insects and others; birds, as messengers or harbingers.

·         Children in gardens, or their absence.

·         Trees, their spiritual significance, use as menacing presences, representations of order in otherwise disordered landscapes, their destruction and their potential to destroy or to influence events.

·         Types of plants in Gothic settings; ivy, evergreens, absence or presence of colour, plants that don’t thrive in particular places, significant flowers (e.g. roses, lilies).

·         Water in gardens; wells, ponds, fountains, streams; as uncanny presence, as disposal sites, as lures for the unwary.

·         The material presence of light and dark, sound and silence.

·         Garden buildings, sheds, outhouses and greenhouses, ruined or in working order.

·         Technology and its impact across the 19th century, in gardens and in the subsequent effects on literature; for example, the increasing use of poisons, and machines.

·         ‘Absent’ gardens; ‘secret’, ‘forsaken’, or ‘unloved’ gardens (or portions of gardens) and their representations as natural/unnatural voids or uncanny and persistent presences, or sites of transformation aided by non-human nature.

·         Gardeners, human, non-human and more than human.

·         Public gardens.

·         Garden design as a means of ‘unnatural’ control; materials (and people) used to enforce design schemes and their consequences.

·         ‘Non-native’ species in garden ecologies.


Please send draft or outline submissions, including the paper title, abstract (300 words) and c.v. to Sue Edney by 31st July 2017.

Event: Victorian Impacts

22-23 June 2017

A two-day event at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. Organised under the aegis of the Scottish Centre for Victorian and Neo Victorian Studies (

Continue reading “Event: Victorian Impacts”

Call for Submissions: Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender, and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth-Century

Guest Editors:  Dr Katie Faulkner (The Courtauld Institute of Art and Arcadia University) Dr Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh)

This special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies will use ‘craft’ as a framework for understanding how various forms of masculinity were constructed and expressed during the long nineteenth-century (1789-1914) in Britain and internationally.

Deadline for completed manuscripts 30th October 2017 Continue reading “Call for Submissions: Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender, and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth-Century”



OCTOBER 13-14, 2017


“The reaction of joy was as passionate as his grief had been, and he hugged his recovered gems to his bosom.” The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”
“…Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” Great Expectations

Continue reading “CFP: VICTORIAN RECOVERY”

CFP: H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw: Socialism and the Irrational

H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw: Socialism and the Irrational
London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2

23 September 2017

Close friends and – at times – bitter rivals, H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw stood in the public mind for the belief that men and women could be persuaded by rational argument to support Fabian socialism, scientific and industrial development, and world citizenship. They took up controversial and often conflicting positions on internationalism and revolution (especially the Russian revolution), war, feminism, democracy, human rights and much else. But there are limits to rationalism in both writers’ thought. Continue reading “CFP: H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw: Socialism and the Irrational”

Victorians and their Dragons

It’s St. George’s Day! And, to celebrate, I thought I’d bring you another post in the style of ‘Victorians and their Dogs’ and ‘Victorians and their Cats’, only this time we’ll be celebrating ‘Victorians and their Dragons’. Please remember: a dragon is for life, not just for St. George’s Day.

Co-written with @DrDouglasSmall – funny man, academic, and researcher of Victorian drugs.  Continue reading “Victorians and their Dragons”

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