The updated Provisional Programme is also available in PDF format (download).

Academic Programme (provisional)


Faculty of Arts (LETRAS)

University of Málaga (15-17 May 2019)


Keynote speakers

Professor Ann Heilmann (University of Cardiff, UK)

Dr. Marie-Luise Kohlke (University of Swansea, UK)

Professor Susana Onega (Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain)

Professor Patricia Pulham (University of Surrey, UK)

Tuesday 14th May

16:00-18:00 Early-bird registration (Room Seminar 5 – Block 7 – Faculty of Arts)


1st DAY (Wednesday 15th May)

8:45-9:30 Registration (Room Seminar 4 – Block 7 – Faculty of Arts)
9:30-11:00 Session 1 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 2 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Megen de Bruin-Molé

University of Southampton

“Monstrous Orientations and Intersectional Otherness in The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club (2017-2018)”

Sofía Muñoz-Valdivieso

University of Málaga

“Neo-Victorian Orientations in Caryl Phillips’s Fiction”

Miriam Borham-Puyal

University of Salamanca

“Seeing One Self in the Past: Palimpsestic Narrative in Moira Buffini’s Byzantium (2012)”

Susanne Gruss
Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nümberg

“Black, Queer, Victorian? The Precarious Neo-Victorian Afterlives of Prince Alemayehu”

Antonio Ballesteros González


“The Neo-Victorian Vampire: The Orientation towards Disenchantment”

Eulalia Piñero Gil


“Suzan- Lori Park’s Venus: A Neo-Victorian Body on Stage”

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

Official Opening

(Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS)

12:00-13:00 Keynote Speaker
(Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS)
13:00-14:00 Session 3 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 4 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Fatma Akçay

University of Córdoba, Spain

“V.S Naipul’s The Mimic Men (1967): Re-Imagining Charles Dickens’ Victorian London in Great Expectations (1861)”

María Losada Friend

Universidad Pablo de Olavide

“A power so obscure, and, at present, beyond our diction’: Translating Martineau’s Letters on Mesmerism (1845) and her rational exposure of irrational issues”

Carmen Escobedo de Tapia

Universidad de Oviedo

“Global Orientations of the neo-Victorian: Witness the Night, by Kishwar Desai”

Béatrice Laurent

Université Bordeaux-Montaigne

“‘A kaleidoscope of images’ :shifting viewpoints, subjectivities and orientation in nineteenth-century Britain”

15:30-17:00 Session 5 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 6 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC:

Ashleigh Taylor Sullivan

Swansea University

“‘Jane, always Jane. I should never be rid of Jane’

Neo-Victorian Gothic Orientations in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Sarah Waters’ The  Little Stranger

Xu Lei

Nanjing University

“Negotiating with Omniscience: (Re)orientations of Temporality in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Possession: A Romance and The Crimson Petal and the White

Meghan P. Nolan

SUNY Rockland

“The Charitable and the Chastened:The Socially Mobile Female in Victorian Mysteries”

Helena Goodwyn

University of St Andrews

“‘I never could learn to bide my time!’: Towards a Polytemporal Reading of Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent

Kym Brindle

Edge Hill University

“‘Truth is often terribly thin, don’t you think?’:

Neo-Victorian pastiche and Golden Age detective fiction”

Roberta Gefter

University of Trieste

“Random orientation in Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda” (TBC)

17:00-17:30 Coffee Break
17:30-18:30 Keynote Speaker
(Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS)
18:30:20:00 Session 5 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 6 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Akira Suwa

Cardiff University

“Traces of Victorian Britain in Northeast Asia: Cross-Cultural Neo-Victorianism in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden

Juan José Martín-González y Magdalena Flores-Quesada

University of Málaga

“Vulnerability in The Journal of Dora Damage” (provisional title)

Eliana Ionoaia

University of Bucharest

“Neo-Victorian Orientations—Rewriting the Nineteenth Century Across the Pond”

Helen Davies

Newman University

“‘An unusual, trusting sort of girl’ The politics of learning disability in neo-Victorianism”

Antonija Primorac

University of Rijeka, Croatia

“Three Ladies Macbeth and A Critique of Colonial Reason in Contemporary Neo-Victorianism on Screen”

Rosalía Baena

University of Navarra

“Broken Bodies: Orientation and Recognition in Illness and Disability Memoirs”


2nd DAY (Thursday-16th May)

9:00-10:30 Session 1 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 2 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Laura Domínguez Morante

Independent scholar

“Sarah Waters’ re-creations in Fingersmith: Gender, sex and identity in Neo-Victorian fiction.”

Dídac Llorens-Cubedo


“War is Over and It’s Christmas: It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol

Elsa Adán Hernández

University of Zaragoza

“Nan King’s Orientation: A Journey of Gender and Sexual Self-discovery through Drag King Performances”

Georges Letissier

Nantes University

“Neo-Dickensian Resonance in John Lanchester’s Capital (2012): Cash Nexus and Textual Network”

Olga Dzhumaylo

Southern Federal University, Russia

Space and affect: (Re)Reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters”

Ben Davies

University of Portsmouth

“‘Artful Disorientations’: Reading, Being and Thinking with Ali Smith”


Keynote Speaker

(Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS)

11:30-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:30 Session 3 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 4 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC:

Cristina G. Domenech and Manuel Hueso Vasallo

University of Málaga

“(Re)Discovering the Queer Past: Reading the Diaries of Sir Roger Casement and Anne Lister”

Barbara Braid

University of Szczecin (Poland)

“Whitechapel as the Crypt: Orientations of Trauma in Time and Space in Whitechapel and From Hell.”

Stefania Arcara

Università di Catania

“Michael Field’s Long Ago: Sapphist Past, Lesbian Futures”

Elisavet Ioannidou

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

“Neo-Victorian Maze Walking: The Urban, Social, and (Inter)Textual Labyrinths of Ripper Street.

Saverio Tomaiuolo

Cassino University

“A Poet is Born, not Mad(e)” John Clare’s Afterlives

13:30-15:00 LUNCH BREAK
15:00-16:30 Session 5 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 6 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Jessica Cox

University of Brunel

“Popular Reorientations: Reimagining Neo-Victorian Temporal and Generic Spaces”

Hadeer Aboelnagah.

Prince Sultan University, Riyadh

“(Re)Orientations of the “Other”; Questioning Britain’s Prospective to Hajj during the Victorian Era”

Adele Jones

Swansea University

“Locating the Victorians: Intertextuality and Temporality in the Novels of Sarah Waters.”

“Title of paper”

Chandrava Chakravarty and Sneha Kar Chaudhuri

West Bengal State University, Kolkata, India

“Re-orienting the Nineteenth Century Racial Divide in Bollywood Historicals: The examples of Lagaan and Mangal Pandey

Raquel García-Cuevas

University of Kent

“Whose Room?: Re-Gendering the Domestic Library in (Neo-)Victorian Fiction.”

Jaine Chemmachery

University Paris-Dauphine – PSL

“Oriented towards the Other? Neo-Victorian ambivalence about otherness”

16:30-17:00 Coffee Break
17:00-18:00 Keynote Speaker
(Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS)
18:00-19:30 Session 7 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 8 Session 9 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)

Digitising the Nineteenth Century



Elizabeth Woodward-Smith

University of A Coruña

“Striking Women and Victorian Trade Unionist”

Antonio Moreno Ortiz


Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir
University of Iceland

“Arctic Orientations: Exploration, Subversion and

Encountering the Other in Stef Penney’s Under a Pole Star

María Jesús Lorenzo Modia

University of A Coruña

“Elizabeth Gaskell’s Trade Unionism in North and South: Women as the Other”

Borja Navarro

(University of Alicante)


María Jesús Cabarcos

University of A Coruña

“Charles Dickens, John Franklin and Their Conquests: Victorian Orientalism and the Discourse of Extinction in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting

Begoña Lasa Álvarez

University of A Coruña

“Creating a Community of Activist Women in Ellen Clayton’s English Female Artists (1876)”

Petr Chalupský

Charles University, Prague

“The Devil Inside that Won’t Be Caged or Fixed by Words: Fluidity and Ethics in Ian

McGuire’s The North Water


Wine & Tapas

Kaleido restaurant


3rd day (Friday 17th May)

9:30-11:00 Session 1 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 2 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Leopoldina Pedro Mustieles

Universitat de València
“Recovering (neo-) Victorian Voices: Fighting Female Oppression in Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

Alexia L. Bowler

University of Swansea

“‘Your father, My Friend’: Reorienting masculinity, or the structures of male kinship and Care in Ripper Street.

Ana Chapman

University of Málaga

“Opening certain doors in The Crimson Petal and the White: Women’s voices from a Neo-Victorian orientation

Birgitta Berglund

University of Lund (Sweden)

“To Walk Invisible: Visibility, Femininity and Fashion in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette.”

Anhiti Patnaik

Birla University of Technology and Science-Pilani, India

“Neo-Victorian (Dis)Orientation in Penny Dreadful and Picture of Dorian Gray

Caroline Duvezin-Caubet

University of Nice (France)

“Gaily Ever After: Neo-Victorianism, Queerness, and the Romance Genre.”

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break
11:30-13:00 Session 3 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 4 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

José María Mesa Villar

UCAM (Universidad Católica de Murcia)

“Refashioning the Rossettis for the 21st Century: Appropriation, Addition and Omission Routines in the BBC Serial Drama Desperate Romantics (2009)”

Angelo Riccioni
Parthenope University, Naples.

“A.S. Byatt and the Cruel Fairies of the Edwardian Era”

Charlotte Boyce

University of Portsmouth

‘I am the work of art’: Reorienting Artist-Muse Relations in Helen Humphrey’s Afterimage

Mariadele Boccardi
University of the West of England, Bristol

“Greening Neo-Victorianism: Environment, Modernity, Community”

Kate Mitchell

Australian National University

“The Art of Neo-Victorian Fiction”

13:00-14:30 LUNCH BREAK
14:30-16:00 Session 5 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 6 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Nadine Böhm-Schnitker

Bergische Universität Wuppertal

“Neo-Victorian Re-Imaginations of the Famine: Negotiating Bare Life Through Co-Orientations of Geographical Trajectories, Transcultural Memories and Physiological Necessities”

Waiyee Loh

University of Warwick

“Who Owns the Victorians?: Possession and the Question of Cultural Property”

Claire Nally

Northumbria University

“Irish Neo-Victorianism and Contemporary Appropriations of the Famine”

Jorge Leiva Rojo

University of Málaga

“The Language of Museum Texts and the Language of Translation at Victorian Museums”

16:00-17:30 Session 7 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 8 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)
Chair:TBC Chair:TBC

Claire O’Callaghan

Loughborough University.

“Rocking Haworth: Feminism and the Brontës on the Twenty-First Century Stage – Carl Miller

and Christopher Ash’s Wasted

Sarah E. Beyvers

University of Passau

“Gendered Embodiment and Agency in Dishonored (2012) and Dishonored 2 (2016)”

Laura Monrós Gaspar

Universitat de València

“The 1893 balloon ascent: A dynamic and gendered map of London’s Entertainment.”

Charlotte Wadoux

University of Kent and University Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3

“Detecting/reading/authoring: Sherlock Holmes and gamebooks for children”

Lin Elinor Pettersson

University of Málaga

“Mutual Becomings: Neo-Victorian Spectacular Bodies”

Anna Gutowska

Linnaeus University (Sweden)

“Something Borrowed, Something New: Penny Dreadful as a Neo-Victorian Transfiction”

17:30-18:00 COFFEE BREAK
18:00-19:30 Session 9 (Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS) Session 10 (Main Lecture Room – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies)

Beth Ann Lahoski

University of Málaga

“A Step in Time and in Space: Encounters with the Other in Travellers’ texts along the Road to Santiago.”

Round table

“Orientation Project”

Marta Bernabéu
University of Salamanca

“Reimagining Heathcliff: The Unfathomable Spaces of the Outsider in Ill Will (2018)”



Main Lecture Room ‘María Zambrano’ – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS



University of Málaga (15-17 May 2019)


Aula María Zambrano – Fac. of Arts-LETRAS


Aula Magna – Fac. of Communication & Media Studies


Organising Committee:

Rosario Arias, Carmen Lara-Rallo, Lin Elinor Pettersson, Miguel Ángel González Campos, Martyna Bryla, Juan José Martín González, Antonio Ballesteros González (UNED), Marta Cerezo Moreno (UNED), Rosalía Baena (University of Navarre), Laura Monrós Gaspar (University of Valence), Victoria Puchal Terol (University of Valence), Miriam Borham Puyal (University of Salamanca), Magdalena Flores Quesada, Manuel Hueso Vasallo, Sonia Luque Maldonado.


Adán Hernández, Elsa (University of Zaragoza). “Nan King’s Orientation: A Journey of Gender and Sexual Self-discovery through Drag King performances”.

In Tipping the Velvet (1998), Sarah Waters explores the very well known notion of “gender as performance” (1990, 1993), studied by Judith Butler. Its protagonist, Nancy Astley, becomes aware of her own sexuality and comes up with doubts about her gender as responding to the stable label society has put on her. However, going a step further, the main ideas explored by Sara Ahmed in Queer Phenomenology (2006) can provide another reading to this character’s performance. This naïve girl moves from performing gender on stage to crossdressing off-stage and carrying out her performance amid the crowds of London. Throughout the novel, Nan is defined as lesbian girl who works as a male impersonator. However, the term “drag king” although this concept was not popularised until the 1990s, may be of great help to study the role of female-to-male performance in the Victorian past. As Ahmed puts it, “the queer orientation might not simply be directed toward the “same sex,” but would be seen as not following the straight line” (70; emphasis added). This straightness understood both in terms of direction and heterosexuality is precisely the term Nan King does not feel comfortable with. Besides, through the exploration of a whole world of sexual possibilities, Nan “reaches objects that are not continuous with the line of normal sexual subjectivity” (Ahmed 71). Therefore, in this convoluted process of self-discovery, Nan is looking for her own orientation, as her position in relation to the rest of “objects” around her is a queer one.


Aboelnagah, Hadeer (Prince Sultan University, Riyadh). “(Re)Orientations of the “Other”; Questioning Britain’s Prospective to Hajj during the Victorian Era”.

During Queen Victoria’s reign (1819-1901), Britain ruled more than half the Muslims of the world. Britain’s interaction with one of the most important pillars of Islam namely pilgrimage or Hajj has increased and set the tone of British Muslim rhetoric for years to come. As Hajj is the largest most significant movement of people to certain space which is the holy city of Mecca, and at a specific time of the year, it became increasingly problematic for the British government not only to facilitate the movement of the Muslim masses but also to ensure health and safety measures. Therefore, an increasing body of research was formulating to examine the trip of Hajj not only from a religious prospective but also from socio, political and medical lens.  In his The British Empire and the Hajj (1865-1956), for instance John Slight suggested that the British engagement with Hajj is far beyond what is thought to be, Hajj was also feared as it was considered a catalyst to anti colonialist movements (13). Eventually, the area of Hijaz became a symbol of the Muslim world and destination of geographic and social excavations. Sir Richard Burton’s Personal Narrative of Pilgrimage to Al- Medinah and Mecca (1983) in its two volumes, exemplifies such growing interest and the British thirst to more knowledge of the area. Despite the fact that the validity of Sir Burton’s narrative is questioned, as he came to the region under disguise and forged identity, it remained one of the most anthropological detailed reports about the two cities and their inhabitants. The book created a great impact that it foreshadowed the orientations of the British readers about Islam and Muslims for decades. Are we currently still under such orientations? How far the nineteenth century incursions of the Muslim “Other” mold the current and future dialogue between Islam and the West comes at the core of my investigation of Burton’s account in the current study. The narrative is to be examined here through a neo-Victorian and post-colonial lens.


Ágústsdóttir, Ingibjörg (University of Iceland): “Arctic Orientations: Exploration, Subversion and Encountering the Other in Stef Penney’s Under a Pole Star

There are longstanding historical and cultural ties between Scotland and the Arctic region, in part through the hundreds of whaling vessels that sailed from Scottish ports to hunt whales in the Arctic during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as through nineteenth century Scottish Arctic explorers such as John Rae. This is manifested in a wide range of Scottish literary works featuring the Arctic. One such is Stef Penney’s Under a Pole Star (2016), a story for the most part set in the late Victorian period and dealing with both Arctic whaling and Arctic exploration. The novel offers a revisionist depiction of what was essentially a male-dominated pursuit, that of Arctic exploration. This is achieved through recounting the challenges (and heartaches) faced by Flora Mackie, a.k.a. the Snow Queen, a fictional Scottish Arctic explorer who initially comes to love the Arctic and its people through travelling there as a child with her father, a captain on a whaling ship from Dundee. The ways in which Flora and her American lover Jakob de Bayn are shown to engage with the Arctic and its people offer interesting reinterpretations of Arctic exploration and encounters with the Other, while Penney’s overall portrayal of Victorian travels to the Arctic and the race for the North Pole highlights some aspects of how explorers exploited the Inuit people in order to achieve personal benefit and glory.


Akçay, Fatma (University of Córdoba): “V.S Naipaul’s The Mimic Men (1967): Re-Imagining Charles Dickens’ Victorian London in Great Expectations (1861) ”

Following V.S. Naipaul’s saying “The London I knew or imaginatively possessed was the London I had got from Dickens” (The Enigma of Arrival, 122-23), this paper aims to explore Charles Dickens’ legacy in Naipaul’s The Mimic Men (1967) relating it to his Great Expectations (1861) regarding the portrayals of the city of London as well as the protagonists’ expectations of it, and their respective disillusionment. Both novels are examples of bildungsromans whose protagonists are also the narrators offering accounts of their own social and psychological growth in London where they came with great expectations to improve their social, economic and intellectual standards. Nevertheless, these self-depictions turn into turmoil once they arrive to the metropolis, since they can neither make their dreams come true, nor can they go beyond being mimic men. In Pip’s case, his social aspirations to become a gentleman in London leads him to feel disdain towards his own people in the countryside, and in Ralph’s case, he starts feeling shame for his “unreal” and inactive country Trinidad. This shame paves the way for his idealization of the real and active British colonial authority and turns him, too, into a mimic man. Apart from the themes of mimicry and identity crises depicted in the novels, both novels depict the settings in accordance with the dramatic events happening around it. In other words, the constant mist dominating the settings represents protagonists’ ambiguity and confusion with respect to their future life conduct in London. Hence, the aim of this paper is twofold; on the one hand, it seeks to analyze the reasons behind the entailing attitudes of the protagonists in London with the help of socio-cultural orientations of the novels; on the other hand, it endeavors to portray the similarities between the city of London depicted by Dickens and the one pictured by Naipaul to demonstrate Dickens’ literary influence on Naipaul’s fiction.


Arcara, Stefania (Università di Catania):Michael Field’s Long Ago: Sapphist Past, Lesbian Futures

Long Ago, a collection of poetry inspired by Sappho’s fragments, was published in London to critical acclaim in 1889 by the author “Michael Field” – later revealed as the pseudonym of Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper. The Greek text, placed as an epigraph to the English verse, serves as a starting point for the Victorian poets’ dialogue with the Sapphic oeuvre. At that particular historical moment, the classics constituted an important battle-ground for the construction of a male homosexual identity for writers and artists, as well as for sexologists, who found in Hellenism culturally validated homoerotic models. On the other hand, women writers and intellectuals were traditionally excluded from classical education and from the homosocial circles of university élites: Bradley and Cooper turned to the only available classical model of female homoeroticism in order to culturally legitimize relations between women. Their orientation towards the past was crucial in establishing a nineteenth-century discourse of lesbianism and a public articulation of lesbian as a social category in Victorian England (Y. Prins, 1999). “Michael Field” re-appropriates Sappho’s verses from Victorian heteronormative readings as well as from morbidly eroticized decadent rewritings. Their turn towards the past aims at transforming the present and the future.

Rather than merely making same-sex desire visible in Victorian literature, or celebrating a lesbian tradition across linear time, I intend to explore the relation between the two Victorian lesbian poets and the Sapphic past they were orientated towards, as well as the relation, as 21st-century feminist literary historians, we hope to cultivate with them, so that their past flows into our present/future.


Baena, Rosalía (University of Navarra): Broken Bodies: Orientation and Recognition in Illness and Disability Memoirs

This paper aims to present a theoretical approach to the concepts of “orientation” and “recognition” as relevant critical terms for illness and disability studies. These two concepts belong to the phenomenological approach to literature by scholars such as Sara Ahmed and Rita Felski, respectively. Simply put, in trying to elucidate the social and cultural mediation of illness narratives, we need to further investigate both the need for re/orientation on the part of the author when confronted with illness or disability, and the need for recognition and acknowledgment of their new realities they demand from readers.As Rosario Arias argues, “orientation” can be understood as influenced by the phenomenological view upon the world in which there is an emphasis on perspectival meaning, and on the direction of objects and bodies in embodied situatedness, particularly in the fields of affect, sensorial materiality, illness and disability studies (unpublished paper). This concept has been developed by Sara Ahmed, who dwells on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, and the philosophical debates over the body, and over the senses and perception. Though Ahmed’s main interest is sexual orientation, this concept also offers fresh possibilities to explore a new sense of time and space in the experiences and perceptions of illness and disability. In this critical context, we may argue that the disruptive experience of illness and disability requires radical re-orientation for the authors, both in space and time. As Paul Kalanithi explains in his memoir When Breath Becomes Air (2016), he finds the prospect of facing terminal cancer quite disorienting, even dislocating (148). In a similar vein, Nina Riggs, also with a terminal diagnosis, describes in her memoir The Bright Hour (2017), “the disorienting gap between the expected and the perceived” (103). Moreover, these memoirs are not only tools that help authors navigate through a complex meaning- making process, but also they function as maps that help re/orient other patients through this foreign territory.

On the other hand, illness and disability narratives also readily express the need to be recognised in their own terms by contemporary readers. Rita Felski defines “recognition” as one of the main forms of textual engagement for common readers (together with knowledge, shock and enchantment). Since recognition has a dialogic dimension, it is very intensely anchored in intersubjective relations, considering persons as embedded and embodied agents. As Ricoeur has explained, the concept of recognition goes from identifying something to identifying oneself, to recognizing and being recognized by others (Ricoeur 2005). Therefore, we may see how illness and disability narratives empower their narrators as they project the need for recognition and knowledge instead of the more common reactions of pity or even self-blame (Baena 2017). In conclusion, I am to explore how illness and disability studies may benefit from these “travelling concepts”, in Mieke Bal’s terms, as orientation and recognition help understand the dynamic process of contemporary reading practices, as well as the affective and cognitive impact of these powerful narratives.


Ballesteros González, Antonio (UNED): “The Neo-Victorian Vampire: The Orientation towards Disenchantment”

Rooted in the atavistic and nebulous mists of folklore, the vampire has always shown its multiform and protean capacity of adaptation to the different events and periods of history. Paradoxically enough, shedding no reflection in the mirror of early literary texts, vampires have become doubles of human fears and anxieties of all times. This talk presents an inclusive overview of how the vampire has evolved from a symbol of monstrosity, horror and sexual polysemic behaviour in the Victorian period to one of present-day decadence and pubescent and puritan love in some significant paradigms of neo-Victorian literature and culture. The origins of the vampire as a literary myth reflecting the uncanny can be traced back to the Romantic period, with the narrative point of departure of John William Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’ (1816). James Malcolm Rymer’s ‘Varney the Vampire’ (1837), published in installments at the threshold of the Victorian era, turned the creatures of the night into an emblem of popular culture which would be exploited later, in Victorian sensation narratives, in the symbolic form of elusive and sexually deviant monsters like Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’ (1872) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). The languid decay of the literary vampire in the first part of the twentieth century was counterpointed by the zenith of vampires as cinematic creatures, from Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) to Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931), reaching the sexual fetishism of blood in technicolor, incarnated by Terence Fisher’s Horror of Dracula (1958) and the subsequent Hammer films, all of them enriched by Gothic and neo-Victorian features. The crepuscular tone of Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles” and, to some extent, John Badham’s Dracula (1979), paved the way for the rise of the postmodern and neo-Victorian vampire, portrayed in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and, ultimately, in Stephenie Meyer’s “The Twilight Saga” and other popular blockbusters and television series. It is my contention that, in recent times, the vampire has become a “disenchanted image”, an emblem of adolescent and tamed “romantic love” which opposes the powerful figure of ancestral horror and sexual unease revealed by the Victorian vampire.


Berglund, Birgitta (Lund University): “To walk invisible: Visibility, femininity and fashion in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette

Charlotte Brontë had a notoriously troubled relationship to fashion and appearance. There were several reasons for this: Being so small and slight in stature as to be taken for a child well into her teens, she was also cripplingly shy and painfully aware of her own lack of beauty. As the daughter of an impecunious clergyman in the provinces she had very little chance of acquiring a sense of fashion early in life, and this fact was brought home to her when she came to Brussels in her mid-twenties and realized that her way of dressing was so unfashionable as to be conspicuous. She quickly caught on and adapted her dress to the prevailing fashions, but the resentment at being looked down on as a provincial outsider by fashionable women and at being neglected even by intellectual men because of her lack of beauty stayed with her for the rest of her life. Even after she had become an acknowledged and celebrated author she repeatedly expressed a wish to be invisible. This paper charts the ways in which Charlotte Brontë uses sartorial details to fashion and re-fashion a possible model of femininity and visibility in her last finished work, Villette, a novel with strong autobiographical elements. I explore the ways in which life and work mutually inform each other in an ongoing process in which some of the scenes in the text will later be played out on Brontë’s own life.


Bernabéu, Marta (University of Salamanca): “Reimagining Heathcliff: The Unfathomable Spaces of the Outsider in Ill Will (2018)”
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) can be considered a Victorian epic on the figure of the outsider. Although Brontë’s novel accommodates a variety of characters who certainly classify as outsiders in their own right, one character in particular holds an almost exclusive place in people’s imaginings. Unsurprisingly, it is the character of Heathcliff who has caught the imagination of readers and critics alike for over two centuries. Michael Stewart’s Ill Will (2018) tries to reimagine the unfathomable spaces Heathcliff inhabits when he leaves Wuthering Heights to build his fortune, and the possibility of tracing them in an attempt to comprehend the process of identity shaping of such a character. Heathcliff’s origins and otherness are intertwined with his travelling experience across the North of England, raising questions about the perception of otherness and its emotional impact on the outsider in different places, both physical and psychological. Moreover, the dynamics of Derrida’s hostipitality, present in the antihero’s journey, is definitely linked to the experience of pain and the reshaping of the emotional realities that intersect in the outsider’s perception of the world, as well as to his orientations in relation to the rest of the characters in both Brontë and Stewart’s novels. The aim of the paper is, therefore, to show to which extent this retelling of Heathcliff incorporates contemporary concepts of identity shaping through space and emotion at the same time that it tries to reconcile Heathcliff’s imagined past with Brontë’s novel and its reception nowadays.
Beyvers, Sarah E. (University of Passau): “Gendered Embodiment and Agency in Dishonored (2012) and Dishonored 2 (2016)”

Videogames offer a thoroughly different mode of engagement with the nineteenth century to non- interactive texts like films or novels. Players are immersed in the world of a game in a more literal sense because their status as active producers of the narrative, rather than passive recipients (Neitzel, “Narrativity”), lets them truly experience the “sensation of being surrounded by a completely other reality […] that takes over […] our whole perceptual apparatus” (Murray 98). Players interact with the virtual space of the game through the avatar, i.e., they do not only possess a point of view but also a point of action (Neitzel, “Point” 10). When related to the identity of the character controlled by the player, like e.g. to their gender, this suggests a framework of delineating agency and gaze.

In my paper, I will look at the (re)negotiation of Victorian gender ideologies in the steampunk videogames Dishonored and Dishonored 2. The first instalment’s only playable character, Corvo, appears to be a prime example of ideal Victorian masculinity – he is “the doer, the creator, the discoverer, the defender” (Ruskin 121-2) – while his gaze lingers on a number of passive female characters who are either Angels in the House, damsels in distress, or prostitutes. After this imitation of Victorian gender tropes had sparked criticism all around, the developer made it possible to control the female character Emily in the sequel, being committed to revising the depiction of women (Parfitt). My paper will explore how these gendered instances of embodiment in a virtual environment render a distinctly neo-Victorian engagement with nineteenth-century gender ideologies possible.


Boccardi, Mariadele (University of the West of England in Bristol): “Greening Neo-Victorianism: Environment, modernity, community”

My paper proposes that an ecocritical approach to studying Neo-Victorianism can bring to the fore an as yet underexamined trend in twenty-first century Neo-Victorian fiction – namely, its ecological concern with the relationship between human beings and the natural world in a broadly colonial context and its articulation of how that relationship is based on the viability or otherwise of community. Critical attention to the environmental dimension of Neo-Victorian texts would also reorient the academic practice of Neo-Victorianism towards engaging with the threats to the planet.

My paper discusses Ian McGuire’ The North Water (2016) and Lydia Syson’s Mr Peacock’s Possessions (2018) as notable instances of this trend. Although set at the opposite ends of the globe (the Southern Pacific and the Arctic Sea respectively), The North Water and Mr Peacock’s Possessions share three key aspects: firstly, the violence against the natural world is presented as a continuation of colonial violence; secondly, that violence is a manifestation of Victorian modernity (coded as capitalist exploitation); thirdly, modernity is responsible for the disintegration of pre-existing communities and their values.

I aim to show how detailed examination of these novels indicates ways in which Neo-Victorian scholarship can engage in a reflection on the relationship between the environment and the sense of community that is widely perceived as having been lost in the 21st century.


Boehm-Schnitker, Nadine (Bergische Universität Wuppertal): “Neo-Victorian Re-Imaginations of the Famine: Negotiating Bare Life Through Co-Orientations of Geographical Trajectories, Transcultural Memories and Physiological Necessities”

Taking my cue from transcultural memory studies and the notion of traveling memory, I will analyse neo-Victorian famine novels, film and music with regard to the cultural orientation towards the hungry body and to the orientation memory takes in these ‘texts’. The Great Famine in Ireland caused mass migration and resulted in both geographical and cultural re- orientations. These are reflected for example in the scope of intertextual and intermedial references both in cultural products published in Ireland and in the diaspora. Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea directs its memory work to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), for instance, while Paul Lynch’s Grace (2017) evokes Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton (1848). It is certainly no surprise that the literature of the Hungry Forties serves as a major reference point for neo-Victorian famine literature, but these references also indicate re-orientations of memory that simultaneously re-negotiate the historiography of the famine. Lance Daly’s 2018 film Black 47, in turn, appropriates the Western genre to tackle the history of the famine, and thus overlays Irish and American cultural trajectories. Finally, in her song “Famine” (Universal Mother, 1994), Sinéad O’Connor samples a quatrain from the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”, interweaving her plea for a re-orientation of Irish history with the musical legacy of the coloniser, but also indicating future possible orientations of memory work. The geographical paths of migration caused by the famine lead to the emergence of a transnational and transcultural web of memories that is represented by hybridised cultural forms. The embodied situatedness of hunger finds its cultural representation in criss-crossing lines of memory work.


Borham-Puyal, Miriam (University of Salamanca): “Seeing One Self in the Past: Palimpsestic Narrative in Moira Buffini’s Byzantium (2012)”

In her 2008 play A Vampire Story, Moira Buffini explored the effects that the trauma of rape had on the identity of her protagonist, Ella. Incapable of openly speaking about her experience, Ella becomes two: a past and present identity, her real self and her vampiric persona, the I and the Other, who at one point converge in the narrative as she finally addresses her traumatic experience.When she translated her play into a film script, Buffini transformed Ella into a vampire who lives in two different times, the nineteenth and the twenty-first century, as she inhabits her past by constantly retelling it in the present. Returning to the town where she was raped, she starts to envision her own past self, as she tries to reconcile truth and lies, who she is with whom she was and who she wants to become. Ella becomes then particularly liminal, as she inhabits an in-between time and self.

This paper will address how Buffini creates a palimpsestic narrative in which places and times overlap, and the self is rewritten from rape survivor to vampiric Other, with the former always underlying the new identity. With this interplay between past and present, moreover, the abuses of the nineteenth century correlate to those of contemporary society, so as to prove that women, vampiric or otherwise, are still vulnerable to violence and marginalization.


Bowler,  Alexia L. (Swansea University): “‘Your father, my friend’: Reorienting masculinity, or the structures of male kinship and care in Ripper Street.”

As Heilmann and Llewellyn note in their introduction to Victoriographies (Issue 5.2, 2015), ‘there is a shortage of men in neo-Victorianism. Or that, at least, is how it would appear’ (Heilmann & Llewellyn, 2015: 97). This paper aims to redress that shortage by shifting the neo-Victorian gaze onto the complex network of relations between the central male figures of Ripper Street (BBC/Amazon, 2012-2016), examining the series’ representations of masculinity, the traumas of male violence, and its potential for emergent structures of male kinship and care.

What writing there is on Ripper Street focuses on the series’ seeming commitment to the spectacle of violence towards women, varying degrees of historical inaccuracy, and accusations of imitation. Whilst acknowledging these criticism, however, and without becoming an apologist for male violence, the paper seeks to suggest that within the series there is a subtle shift of focus – a reorientation – towards the framing of male brutality as a newly traumatic experience for men. In this, the paper takes the position that the violence of the series is arguably less interesting as a spectacle and more compelling as a symptom of discussions about emerging masculinities in the twenty-first century. In turn, this allows further exploration of networks of support, of kinship and care, that come to exist between the men of Ripper Street: from Drake’s search for respectability and love; Jackson’s attempt at professional recognition and respite from pursuit, to Drake’s mitigation of her father’s ‘sins’ to Matilda, and the reconstruction of the broken Detective Inspector in later episodes.


Braid, Barbara (Szczecin University): “Whitechapel as the Crypt: Orientations of trauma in time and space in Whitechapel and From Hell”.

Jack the Ripper myth has inspired, or coincided with, the classic gothic texts of late Victorian London, and countless accounts, theories, and fictions have followed. Some of the most famous ones include Alan Moore’s and Eddie Campbell’s graphic novel From Hell (1999), depicting their own fictionalized account of the London’s most notorious murders. Another, more contemporary, is the crime series Whitechapel (Carnival Films, 2009 and ITV, 2010-2013), which in its first season portrays a contemporary case of Jack the Ripper copycat, murdering women in Whitechapel exactly 120 years after the original Victorian killings. These texts share a conviction that the time and the place where the murders happened constitute a significant nexus in the history of London, one which is akin to apocalypse or hell. What they also both note is the orientation of that nexus to the present: the umbilical cord connecting the 20th and 21st century to the 19th century. The proposed presentation looks at both texts as depicting a contemporary urban context haunted by the Victorian past, both spatially and temporarily. The combined theories of cryptonymy, psychogeography and trauma are employed to discuss Whitechapel as a Crypt – a vortex of trauma that links 1888 to the contemporary and beyond. From Hell allows us to see how the Whitechapel/Crypt becomes a wound on the body of the city, ritually reopened by each cultural event that feeds the myth of Jack the Ripper. The television series Whitechapel, on the other hand, shows how the haunting offers a healing via a repetition of a past event, like a traumatic re-memory.


Brindle, Kym (Edge Hill University): “Truth is often terribly thin, don’t you think?” Neo-Victorian pastiche and Golden Age detective fiction”

This paper will consider cultural intersections between Golden Age detective fiction and neo-Victorian historical crime novels. Diversification in neo-Victorian orientation to the past becomes evident when considering Nicola Upson’s pastiche novels, The Death of Lucy Kyte (2013), and Two For Sorrow (2010). Set in the increasingly popular inter-war era, Upson’s series of novels feature a fictional writer named Josephine Tey (pseudonym of real-life Golden Age crime novelist, Elizabeth Mackintosh). The novels, with “a strong biographical thread”, return to two infamous nineteenth-century crimes: ‘The Red Barn Murder’ and the late-Victorian case of the ‘Finchley Baby Farmers’. Detective fiction is an inherently self-reflexive form, whereby, as Peter Thoms points out, ‘the “case” becomes a story about making a story’; this paper will examine the metafictional processes used to depict acts of researching the past within the fictional world. Processes of detection uncover textual histories of sensationalised stories of Victorian criminality seen from new perspectives. Sarah Waters (also inspired by Tey) acknowledges a lingering influence of Victorian Gothic in her own pastiche inter-war fiction, stating that ‘each new Gothic narrative somehow recalls the ones before it’. Upson’s novels orientate readers back to nineteenth-century Gothic sensation through a pastiche prism of inter-war social history updated for a self-aware revisionist feminist agenda. Embedded acts of reading self-reflexively exploit the borderlines between fiction and history for changing social times and consciously revised attitudes.


Boyce, Charlotte (University of Portsmouth): “‘I am the work of art’: Reorienting Artist-Muse Relations in Helen Humphreys’ Afterimage
This paper examines the reconfiguration of artist-muse relations in Helen Humphreys’ Afterimage (2000), a neo-Victorian novel that draws on the life of pioneering Victorian art-photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. In Humphrey’s work, Cameron is reimagined as Isabelle Dashell, while the maids Cameron famously co-opted as models and assistants, Mary Hillier and Mary Ryan, are composited into the character of Annie Phelan, the Irish servant whom Isabelle adopts as artistic muse. As well as borrowing key aspects of Cameron’s biography, Afterimage is deeply indebted to the photographer’s distinctive aesthetic; Isabelle’s studies of Guinevere, Sappho and Mary Madonna represent ekphrastic doublings of Cameron’s works, while the novel’s persistent comparison of photographic and cartographic ways of seeing recalls Cameron’s assertion that her craft was no mere ‘map-making … of feature and form’, but rather the apotheosis of ‘Truth’, ‘Poetry’ and ‘beauty’ 1. Yet, this paper suggests, Afterimage does something more than simply appropriate Cameron’s life-story and artistic philosophy for biofictional purposes. In addition to recruiting Cameron as muse, the text consciously reflects on the gender and class politics of artist-muse relations, exploring the complex indices of power and control inherent in the creative process. The relationship between Isabelle and Annie is figured, by turns, as exploitative and nurturing, hierarchical and egalitarian; the pair alternately embody and subvert the conventional roles of mistress and servant, photographer and subject, erastes and eromenos, mentor and neophyte. Ultimately, Annie comes to recognise herself as active visionary rather than passive conduit of artistic inspiration; however, the entrenched class structures of Victorian society militate against any public acknowledgement of her creative agency.
Nevertheless, by giving voice to the typically silenced muse-figure, Afterimage challenges traditional artist-muse relations and, in doing so, tacitly invites new perspectives on Cameron’s own photographs of Mary Hillier and Mary Ryan, encouraging us to read such images as collaborative imaginative enterprises rather than manifestations of individual aesthetic genius.1. Julia Margaret Cameron, letter to Sir John Herschel, 31 March 1864, National Media Museum, Bradford.


Cabarcos Traseira, Mª Jesús (University of A Coruña): “Charles Dickens, John Franklin and Their Conquests: Victorian Orientalism and the Discourse of Extinction in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting

Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (2008) transports us to the intersecting personal and public lives of two Victorian celebrities: writer Charles Dickens and Sir John Franklin, Arctic explorer and Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land. Flanagan self-consciously peppers these two narrative threads with references to historical events such as the Great Exhibition of London (1851) and to other historical figures (e.g., the women in the two great men’s lives often steal the spotlight); he frames the fictional account of events that transpired in various settings across the globe, as well as the narrator’s insights into the characters’ motives and passions, within the wider historical contexts of the age of exploration and the settlement of the Australian territories; and he incorporates historical documents, news reports and various artistic artifacts (most notably, an 1842 painting by Thomas Bock) into the narrative.

This paper will argue that what arises amidst this amalgamation is a masterful illustration of how the discourse of Orientalism is created and consumed, as well as how it in turn contributes to underscore and disseminate the ideological and political system that birthed it. Furthermore, drawing not only on Edward Said’s study on Orientalism, but also Marcia Langston’s intercultural redefinition of Aboriginality and Patrick Brantlinger’s orientations about extinction discourses, this paper will interrogate to what extent the contemporary dialogue that is established in the novel with the events of the 1830s-1850s in Van Diemens’s Land and Victorian Great Britain simultaneously questions and reinforces colonialist, orientalist discourses rooted in essentializing binary oppositions.


Chakravarty, Chandrava and Chaudhuri, Sneka Kar (West Bengal State University): “Re-orienting the Nineteenth Century Racial Divide in Bollywood Historicals: The examples of Lagaan and Mangal Pandey

This paper aims to interpret the neo-Victorian cultural orientation of mainstream Hindi/Bollywood films that concentrate upon re-inventing historical episodes, both real and imaginary from the Victorian colonial past in India. These films, namely, Lagaan (2001) and Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005), have re-negotiated the porous boundaries of history and fiction, populism and retro-mania. These celluloid narratives have explored the ways in which the orientations towards otherness and others can be conceptualized in the relationship between the Indian subjects and British rulers.In Laagan the wish fulfillment narrative of the cricket match between the British masters and the Indian villagers is a rich imaginative metaphor of the rise of Indian nationalism. The paper will explore how in this film sports functions as a kind of expression and manifestation of racial marginality and empowerment by achieving symbolic victory over the racially superior other. In Mangal Pandey, one of the most famous events of Victorian history, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 is given a new orientation by foregrounding the heroic contribution of the Indian sepoy, Mangal Pandey. The interactions and rivalry between the ruler and the ruled in the film show the dynamic ethical encounter between the British and the Indians. Both the films make neo-Victorian explorations of the nineteenth-century public space in India, which was fraught with racial divide, colonial exploitation and nationalism. Thus, these historicals aim to re-interpret history in the light of popular culture and use cinematic conventions and techniques that focus both on the nostalgic and critical orientations of the films towards the Victorian past.


Chalupský, Petr (Charles University, Prague): “The Devil Inside that Won’t Be Caged or Fixed by Words: Fluidity and Ethics in Ian McGuire’s The North Water

In Ian McGuire’s novel The North Water (2016), Patrick Sumner, a young medical doctor recently dismissed from the British Army with his reputation and professional prospects in ruins, accepts a poorly-paid position as a surgeon on a whaling ship in his attempt to flee from his past and his troubled conscience. However, contrary to his expectations, in the Arctic Circle he faces an ordeal far more demanding than anything he has hitherto endured in the form of the harpooner Henry Drax, a dangerous psychopath who is ready to abuse and murder anyone who is an obstacle to the satisfaction of his brutish physical needs. Confronted with violence and cruelty beyond understanding, within the fluid framework of the distorted ethical norms and values of the heterogeneous crew the embittered Sumner is gradually forced to abandon his protective shell of resigned indifference and reassess the moral stances and responsibilities of a civilised person when faced with human wickedness. This paper argues that using the background of the declining Victorian whaling industry, The North Water follows the tradition of fiction centred on a fallible, transgressing hero who balances, under extreme and volatile circumstances, on the blurred border between good and evil. The novel can thus be read as a compelling response to Conradian ethical queries, particularly regarding the relationship between “I” and the “other” which, though the story is set in 1859, resonates with discourse concerning such ethical issues in the present-day world.


Chapman, Ana (University of Málaga): “Opening certain doors in The Crimson Petal and the White: Women’s voices from a Neo- Victorian orientation”
This paper proposes a view of orientation in relation to Michel Faber’s novel, The Crimson Petal and the White (2002). Particularly, in terms of orientation as a guide or opening given to the contemporary reader by the narrator. The latter allows the reader to catch a glimpse of how different nineteenth century women (a prostitute, upper-class woman, among others) would have discerned the world and their place in their society.
It becomes a dialogue between the past and the present in order to create a new space for productive communication. That is, it gives voice to the unheard, the other/monstrous beings of that time which in this case are women. This paper will explore nineteenth century women’s outlook and their Victorian social position which was muted by the general society of the time and how this is possible thanks to, but also limited by the hospitality of the narrator’s rules.  Doors are opened into some Victorian women’s minds in the novel as a transgressive act to give voice to their perception of their position and status which, however, is also restricted to the norms of the host (i.e. the narrator).


Chemmachery, Jaine (University Paris-Dauphine – PSL): “Oriented towards the Other? Neo-Victorian ambivalence about otherness”

This paper will draw on Marie Luise Kohlke’s seminal work on Neo-Victorianism in 2008 in which she argued that the Victorians in Neo-Victorian works had become our new Orientals. In the absence of an unknown Orient that could still be discovered and mastered in the 21st century, the Victorians have come to be endowed with exotic qualities in Neo-Victorian productions – such as sensuality, mystery, etc. – which are reminiscent of the Victorian views on their contemporary others.  My contention is that unless ethical consumption of the Victorians becomes a new approach in Neo-Victorianism, no possibility of being sincerely oriented towards the Other seems possible in Neo-Victorian culture and literature. Indeed, Neo-Victorian productions at the moment seem to be always caught between two opposite trends, an interest in the voiceless characters of the 19th century – the Victorian subalterns – and a crave for sensationalism and exhibitionism which partakes of a commercial strategy aiming at making 21st-century readers and spectators « consume » the Victorians. It is interesting to study the collusion between consumerism, capitalism and Neo-Victorianism as, in Christian Gutleben’s terms, history, otherness and Victorians sell well (« l’histoire, l’altérité, les Victoriens, ça se vend », 2015, 127). It is also worth adding the imperial component to this articulation as the appropriation of certain subjects, such as in Barbara Chase-Riboud’s Hottentot Venus (2003) or even Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White (2002), cannot help recalling unequal power relations where the authors, despite being certainly well-intentioned, may deprive their objects of study of their potential voice and agency rather than enable them to emerge from historical invisibility. Overpowering authorial and/or narrative stance may share more elements with imperialism and colonialism than one might expect, such as the fact of silencing minor subjects and imposing hegemonic views onto them. This certainly has to do with the fact that English is the language in which Neo-Victorian works are still mainly written, and that « Anglo-America » is predominantly the location where such products originate from.   


Cox, Jessica (Brunel University London): “Popular Reorientations: Reimagining Neo-Victorian Temporal and Generic Spaces”

In recent years, neo-Victorianism’s critical emphasis on ‘historiographic metafiction’ has begun to shift towards a more inclusive definition, which encompasses popular fiction, film, and television; theatre productions; the heritage industry; the political arena; and global cultural reimaginings of the long nineteenth century. In spite of these shifts, neo-Victorianism’s roots remain persistently located in the second half of the twentieth century, and its most frequently cited origin narratives the literary, intertextual fiction of authors such as Jean Rhys and John Fowles.  This paper proposes a revision to this dominant critical discourse, a reorientation of neo-Victorianism to encompass within its scope the literary and cultural productions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as works of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Via an examination of nineteenth- and twentieth-century popular fiction, the paper posits the notion of a continuum which blurs the categories of ‘Victorian’ and ‘neo-Victorian’.  Moving from the Victorian sensation novel, through to late nineteenth-century reworkings of the genre, to early to mid- twentieth-century popular historical fictions, the paper traces the complex of web of intertextual associations which simultaneously define and blur the boundary between Victorian and neo-Victorian, popular and literary, and argues for a reconceptualising of neo-Victorianism as a critical category to encompass these lineages. With reference to works including Austin Fryer’s A New Lady Audley (1891), Daphne Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel (1951) and Victoria Holt’s Shivering Sands (1969), the paper argues for a further expansion of neo-Victorian temporal and generic spaces to include those works and genres which remain on the periphery of the neo-Victorian project.


de Bruin-Molé, Megen (University of Southampton): “Monstrous Orientations and Intersectional Otherness in The Extraordinary Adventures of the
Athena Club (2017-2018)”
Theodora Goss’s Athena Club series uses neo-Victorian monster mashup to interrogate contemporary identity politics. Set at the turn of the twentieth century, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017), the first book in the series, chronicles the adventures of the daughters of famous ‘mad scientists’ from Victorian literature, and their eventual formation of the Athena Club to help other women like themselves. Characters include Mary Jekyll (the daughter of Henry Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1886), Diana Hyde (daughter of Jekyll’s alter-ego Edward Hyde), Catherine Moreau (the puma woman from H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1896), Justine Frankenstein (a version of the female creature from Frankenstein, 1818), Beatrice Rappaccini (from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1844 short story ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’). The books draw supporting characters from a range of late Victorian fiction.
By presenting a world full of difference, populated by not one but multiple monsters, the Athena Club novels remind us that even when the monster is the privileged subject of its own narrative, there are still Others on the margins. As Judith Butler writes in Undoing Gender, we must ‘underscore the value of being beside oneself, of being a porous boundary, given over to others, finding oneself in a trajectory of desire in which one is taken out of oneself, and resituated irreversibly in a field of others in which one is not the presumptive center’ (2004, 25). As this paper will show, Athena Club’s textually and diegetically monstrous revival of past fictions decentres its subjects, placing them alongside each other rather than against the Other.


Davies, Ben (University of Portsmouth): “‘Artful Disorientations: Reading, Being and Thinking with Ali Smith’”
In Ali Smith’s Artful (2012), a disorienting text that is part-lecture, part-essay, part-novel, the unnamed narrator orientates herself by communicating with her dead partner via reading and re-reading. She reads her dead lover’s novels and her incomplete lectures. As such, her present orientation and mode of being is predicated on orientating herself in her dead partner’s study, reading, and re-reading. She positions herself, I argue, in and against the lineage of Descartes in his chair and Virginia Woolf in search of a room of one’s own – ready to read, to think and be, even if that being becomes a form of un-being.
Positioned as a reader, this unnamed narrator turns in particular to Dickens’ Oliver Twist, (re)reading this novel after a space of some thirty years. Tracing the various twists and turns in the narrator’s reading, this paper will argue that it is the process of reading itself, rather than what is read, that provides forms of disorientation – to both thought and being. In this sense, Neo-Victorian fiction holds no particularly privileged place when it comes to readerly (dis)orientation. With such disruptive, disorienting reading in mind – both in terms of the narrative and Artful’s own unstable status – the paper will also argue that reading and thinking as modes of disorientation need to be re-emphasised and re-grounded as the university’s primary forms of intellectual enquiry. Reading, in particular, I argue helps us to reflect upon, as well as experience, temporal disorientation.  


Davies, Helen (Newman University): “An unusual, trusting sort of girl’: The politics of learning disability in neo-Victorianism”

Neo-Victorian scholarship has offered some significant engagement with the politics of physical disability (Arias 2011, pp. 343-64), physical illness (Pietrzak 2011, pp. 24-48), and extraordinary bodies (Davies 2015; Tomaiuolo 2017, pp. 296-322; Pettersson 2018, pp. 171-186), and the genre’s interest in Victorian asylums and mental illness has often been discussed. However, neo-Victorian representations of characters with learning disabilities have yet to be examined. In part, perhaps this omission is due to anxiety about the ethical dilemmas of imposing modern understandings of learning disability onto the Victorian past. As Patrick McDonagh has demonstrated, the category of ‘idiocy’ encompassed a vast range of cognitive difference in the Victorian era (McDonagh 2008), which belies the careful distinction between different conditions which has been the hall-mark of medicine from the twentieth century onwards. As neo-Victorian characters with cognitive difference rarely bear the labels of modern medicine, they run the risk of being overlooked.

This paper begins with an overview of the ways in which learning disability and/or cognitive difference has been deployed in neo-Victorianism, briefly considering the politics of representation in the characterisation of Pink in Sheri Holman’s The Dress Lodger (1999) and Lily in Mary Hooper’s Fallen Grace (2010). My main focus is on the depiction of Gracie in Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet (1998); I argue that the critical attention paid to gender and sexuality in the novel has failed to address the invocation of dubious Victorian discourses of ‘idiocy’ in Waters’ rendering of this ‘simple’ girl. But there are implications of this troubling dichotomy of Nancy’s ‘knowingness’ over Gracie’s ‘simplicity’ for the genre of neo-Victorianism more broadly. For doesn’t neo-Victorianism have an orientation towards privileging intelligence – cultural productions which require the (often scholarly) knowledge of the nineteenth century – over more ‘popular’ or accessible engagements with the Victorian era? Does intellectual elitism in critical accounts of neo-Victorianism also bear further scrutiny?


Domenech y Hueso Vasallo, Cristina y Manuel (University of Málaga): (Re)Discovering the Queer Past: Reading the Diaries of Sir Roger Casement and Anne Lister

Through the revisionist lens of neo-Victorianism we strive to present a Victorian Era populated by communities often forgotten by history, but we are rarely allowed the luxury of reading real historical accounts written by queer Victorians; when we do, we are usually left with the impression than we can barely imagine the depths still hidden in some corners of history. This is usually the case when we delve into the extensive and surprising contents of the diaries of sir Roger Casement and Anne Lister.A renowned human-rights activist in the British colonies, sir Roger Casement’s (1864-1916) “Black Diaries” detail his homosexual encounters across the colonies and were ultimately used as evidence to have him found guilty and executed while being tried for high treason. After the trial, the diaries were kept under the custody of the British government for almost a century. Anne Lister (1791-1840), on the other hand, was a landowner, traveller and mountaineer from York. Her diaries, deciphered and edited by Helena Whitbread in the 1980s and thought to be a hoax when first discovered, describe her affective and sexual life with other women in a shockingly forthright and knowledgeable manner, and their publication challenged everything we thought we knew about queer women in the nineteenth century.   

In this paper, we would like to explore the written legacy of these Victorian diarists and their potential impact on contemporary queer studies and on the way we think about Victorian queer sexualities, in and beyond academia.


Domínguez Morante, Laura (Independent scholar): “Sarah Waters’ re-creations in Fingersmith: Gender, sex and identity in Neo-Victorian fiction.”

This essay sheds light on the new millenium’s Neo-Victorian rewriting and rethinking of historical contexts in Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith (2002). Waters intended a queering of history and a rethinking of long-established values (namely, gender and sexual identity) by reformulating the canonical narrative: she questions Victorian heteronormativity by turning the expected marriage plot into the identity quest of Maud and Sue, the two lesbian protagonists, if we understand marriage and the family as heterosexual institutions used to preserve normativity and power relations in a collective scale (Letissier 278).Furthermore, by exposing the hypocrisy of the Victorian period, Waters’ fiction arguably tries to “[right] the wrongs of the pasts” (367) and vindicates female independence from the biased shaping of sexual/gender identity through familial expectations, gender, psychoanalytic practices, violence, Victorian pornography (Kaplan, 50) or literature. These male-dominated and female- repressive spheres are twisted to create a discourse in which Maud and Sue survive to create their own narrative, to rewrite their own identity.

On the whole, this research would show both the connections and disconnections of historical novels to contemporary narratives also present (and hidden) in the Victorian period, and the reverse of literary canons with a specific intention.

The secondary sources used in this study are, among others, Bailén’s “Re-creating the Past: the Neo-Victorian Meaning in Sarah Waters’ Neo-Victorian Novels” (2012), Creaney’s “Sexual re-scripting: Ventriloquial Repetitions and Transformations in Sarah Waters’ ‘Tipping the Velvet’ and ‘Affinity” (2015), Kaplan’s “Fingersmith’s Coda: Feminism and Victorian Studies,” and Letissier’s “More Than Kith and Less Than Kin” in Neo-Victorian Families : Gender,  Sexual and Cultural Politics (2011).


Duvezin-Caubet, Caroline (University of Nice): “Gaily Ever After: Neo-Victorianism, Queerness, and the Romance Genre”

Neo-Victorian novels do not lack in queer characters, but it does not follow that their representation and destinies are progressive: in one of the first seminal articles of our field, Lisa Fletcher pointed to the way that John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant Woman and A.S. Byatt’s Possession had “lesbianism […] raised as a possibility to be explicitly rejected” (Fletcher 2003 38). Often, genderbending is used as a plot twist or the key to the mystery, such as in Peter Ackroyd’s Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem. Sarah Water’s work is the exception to the rule, as her novels focus on lesbian love stories and queer families of choice: though the end may be utopian (Tipping the Velvet), tragic (Affinity) or hopeful (Fingersmith).

However, outside of ‘respectable’ literary fiction awaits a whole sub-genre where a queer Happily Ever After is not only a possibility but a requirement: m/m (gay) historical romance in a Victorian setting. This paper would focus more specifically on the backlist of two authors, Cat Sebastian and K.J. Charles. Both have, in their most recent books, explored queer retellings of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances: Unmasked by the Marquess rewrites Frederica (1965) as Band Sinister does Sylvester, or, the Wicked Uncle (1957). Both have also written genderqueer protagonists, which are very rare in romance. Charles, who often veers towards mystery and the neo-Gothic, has moreover written Holmesian fiction with The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, where the homoerotic component of Holmes and Watson’s relationship is made explicit. The books selected here are all from the twenty-first century, but the literary orientations are by no means new: we would aim to draw neo-Victorianism from its beaten literary path to discover the different horizons of genre fiction, and see how such a meeting could benefit both critical fields.


Dzhumaylo, Olga (Southern Federal University, Russia): “Space and affect: (Re)Reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters”

The paper argues that an interaction with neo-Victorian text of Fingersmith by Sara Waters and spatian particularities in it, that forward a reader’s self-conscious engagement ‘with the act of (re)interpretation, (re)discovery and revision concerning Victorians’ (Heilmann and Llewellyn 2010), might be specified by paying attention to a number of nonrepresentational issues and ‘embodied readings’ (Keen 2018). Among them:

-An urban-specific mentality as ‘embodied practice’ (Thrift 1996, Plesske 2014). Waters focalizes the narrative through the eyes of Maud and Sue, both dramatically leaving their home locations. Making their home sites, which ironically are socially marginal places of poverty and misery, to be cherished by the characters as places of comfort and care, Waters is never tired of ‘estrangement’ effect based on minute observation of social otherness and involuntary absorption into it;   

-A present-day reader’s act of flânerie within the novel space as the spatial distance between audience and character is recreated in the temporal gap between the twenty-first century reader and the nineteenth-century narrator (Kohlke, 2008; Pettersson 2013). At the same time, by approaching the nineteenth century from a contemporary standpoint the reader gazes at the past adopting both a voyeuristic and a corporal attitudes. Thus, Waters not only recreates a historical past by staging it as a spectacle for the reader, but also making him immerse into multiple nuances of body affects (e.g. recurrent leitmotif of hair evokes feelings as different as physical disgust and extreme pleasure provided with historically grounded details as ‘sugary’ or ‘sewn to the head’, etc.);

The register shift from representational to nonrepresentational reading sustains a space for not mere analytical habits of mind, but for a blend of cognitive and affective capacities, linked to bodily responses that reinforce reader’s questioning about his own self-identity set against a radical and exoticised alterity of neo-Victorian sensibilities.


Escobedo de Tapia, Carmen (Universidad de Oviedo): “Global Orientations of the neo-Victorian: Witness the Night, by Kishwar Desai.”

This paper aims to highlight the fluid and pervasive presence of the neo-Victorian in the field of the postcolonial, from a Dickensian stage (Coolie (1936), Mister Pip (1997), Jack Maggs (2006)), to contemporary times. New orientations seem to characterize “postcolonial neo-Victorianism” (Kolhke (2010), Ho (2012, 2014), Heilmann & Lewellyn (2013), and new perspectives seem to emerge in the relationship established between neo-Victorianism and globalization. The development of the Indian narrative in English stands as a meaningful representation of this trend. Kishwar Desai is a contemporary female author who depicts the reality of the Indian female characters in Witness the Night (2010), a novel which clearly constitutes an example of “global neo-Victorianism” and proves that the Victorian past reaches far beyond borders and cultures. In fact, Desai displays in her narrative an interplay between private memories and historical memory, and depicts an obscure, almost spectral, feminine microcosm through a Victorian lens, which reflects the traumatic social experience that Indian women still have to face in the twenty-first century. The recreation of the neo-Victorian in Witness the Night proves new orientations in global narratives which aim to not only nurture in the Victorian past but also denounce the fact that many of the aspects that characterized the social situation of women, “the Other” placed at the margins in that past, still exist in contexts like India. Contemporary Indian female writers (and poets) attest the aforementioned global orientations of neo-Victorianism.


García Cuevas,  Raquel (University of Kent): “Whose Room?: Re-gendering the domestic library in (Neo-)Victorian Fiction”

The reconceptualization of the house that begun in the eighteenth century evolved into a model of household that had its spaces strongly demarcated by gender. This gendered spatial division gained full force during Victorian times and gave way to the well- known dichotomy private/public. However, although the Victorian household was conceived as female, and therefore private, some of its spaces remained fluid and would operate both as public and private.

This paper argues that the domestic library or study was one of such in-between spaces which, although strongly inscribed as male, managed to retain a dual quality as both private and public. On the one hand, the library has been described as a male fortress within the nineteenth-century household where the paterfamilias could escape from the, sometimes overwhelming, female hustle and bustle. That is, the library or study was a place of male privacy, and thus, I suggest, private. On the other hand, however, this room is also portrayed as the domestic space where men were allowed to dispatch business free from female interference, which endows the library with public connotations.

Nonetheless, although many canonical nineteenth-century novels have validated this traditional “the library is male” motto, this space, precisely because of its in- betweenness, has offered some authors the opportunity of re-mapping it. This paper will look at Victorian and Neo-Victorian fictional domestic libraries and studies to explore the possibility of a feminist intervention that aims at re-orienting this seemingly all- male space and turn it into an arena of female empowerment and liberation.


Gefter, Roberta (University of Trieste): “Random orientation in Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda (provisional title)

The paper intends to investigate the dialogical concept of orientation in Peter Carey’s Booker prize-winning novel Oscar and Lucinda (1988), which was also adapted into a successful film directed by Gillian Anderson in 1997. Careys’s novel makes extensive use of the idea of orientation, in both temporal and spacial terms. This emerges in the way it addresses questions of mobility, movement, the experience of migration and the voyage to an unknown, “other” geographical and human landscape such as nineteenth-century Australia, and, finally, the  relationship of bodies and objects, as represented by the protagonists’ obsession with gambling and their challenge over the ambitious and doomed glasswork church to be transplanted in a remote village of the Australian outback.

The novel unfolds that “polytemporality” that is distinctive of the historical time of neo-Victorian fiction as it is narrated from a contemporary perspective by a descendant of Oscar, the protagonist, as well as a polyspaciality that flows through the initial youth of the protagonists in England and Australia, the intersection of their separate paths through their encounter on the heterotopic  (and orientated) space of the ship, and finally progresses to the conjunction of religion and gambling, faith and randomness, sense of purpose and the inscrutable turns of chance.

Carey’s narrative strategies in Oscar and Lucinda valorise that “dynamic interplay and interrelations between past, present, and future as modes of temporal orientation” (V.Browne) that is so productive of creative engagements with the Victorian past,  but also displays an interest in that “generational time” (Browne) which is explored in the complex an non-linear genealogy between the narrator and the protagonist, and which constitutes an important early neo-Victorian example of the subtle inherence of the concept of orientation.


Goodwyn, Helena (University of St Andrews): “‘I never could learn to bide my time!’: Towards a Polytemporal Reading of Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent

Without a polytemporal conception of historical time, ‘a time that is generated through the intersection of various times and temporalities’ (Browne, 2014: 26) the Neo-Victorian novel would not exist. The Neo-Victorian novel relies on our ability to think across time. In Feminism, Time and Nonlinear History Victoria Browne follows Dipesh Chakrabarty in suggesting that in order to overcome understandings of time as linear, and history as a totality, we must generate genealogies that are connective and simultaneously disruptive of that very connectivity. This, Chakrabarty contends, allows us to ‘contemplate the necessary fragmentary histories of human belonging’ (Chakrabarty, 2000: 125).

This paper examines the production of polytemporality in Sarah Perry’s 2016 novel The Essex Serpent. Perry’s novel requires, from its outset, that the reader engage their understanding of at least four temporalities that are then superimposed, palimpsest-like, on top of each other, and which are each attended by a set of historical prejudices. By foregrounding a character whose depiction compels the reader to apply contemporary understandings of developmental disorders characterized by trouble with social interactions and communication to a Victorian setting, Perry insists upon a ‘“backwards-forwards” movement’ (Browne, 2014: 72) between past and present, but also between the representable and the unrepresentable. Considering Perry’s novel in the context of both historical fiction, and the Neo-Victorian, allows for a similar ‘backwards-forwards’ orientation. In questioning whether The Essex Serpent should be considered a Neo-Victorian text, this paper argues, its liminal position at the parameters of the Neo-Victorian might be precisely what enables the novel to allow us to reflect on the phenomenon of Neo-Victorianism.


Gruss, Susanne (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nümberg): “Black, Queer, Victorian? The Precarious Neo-Victorian Afterlives of Prince Alemayehu”
The life of Prince Alemayehu (only son of Abyssinian emperor Tewedros) was short: orphaned when British troops invaded his country in 1868, the seven-year-old boy was abducted from what is now Ethiopia and made a ward of Queen Victoria, who took a personal interest in him and oversaw his public school education; he died of pleurisy when he was still in his teens. Alemayehu’s fate is metonymic for the eradication of Black experience in nineteenth- century Britain as well as for the lack of critical analysis and reparation in the twenty-first: While Queen Victoria commented on her ward’s melancholia in her diaries, first-hand accounts of Alemayehu’s life in Britain do not exist or have not survived; photographs capitalize on the visual contrast between European (i.e., ‘civilized’) clothing and Alemayehu’s Blackness, and thus pointedly exoticize him. When the Ethiopian president formally requested the return of the prince’s remains (which are buried on the grounds of Windsor Castle) in 2007, the requests were ignored. Since its formation in the early noughties, critics have characterized neo-Victorianism as an attempt to encounter the ‘other’ by laying open and supplementing the ideological gaps of nineteenth-century gender, class and race discourses,1 and as performing a form of intervention (or, perhaps, orientation) that attempts to tackle traumas of the past.2 Making use of the concept of orientation, I will look at two recent novels that reinvent the story of Prince Alemayehu in order to probe the potential of neo-Victorian texts to reclaim nineteenth-century Black experience, Elizabeth Laird’s The Prince Who Walked with Lions (2012), a historical novel for young readers, and David Rocklin’s The Night Language (2017), which imagines a love story between the Ethiopian prince and his (Black British) steward Philip Layard. Rocklin’s novel complicates the picture by queering Blackness – whether the ‘love that dare not speak its name’ results in an even more complete silencing of Alemayehu, or whether his non- heteronormative sexuality allows for a dialogic orientation towards his precarious experience as a Black youth in Victorian Britain will be one of the main questions used to structure my contribution.

1. Cora Kaplan defines what she calls Victoriana as including the “self-conscious rewriting of historical narratives to highlight the suppressed histories of gender and sexuality, race and empire” (2007, 3).

2.  See, for instance, Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben, who read the neo-Victorian novel as “a belated abreaction or ‘working-through’ of nineteenth-century traumas, as well as those of our own times, albeit more obliquely” (2010, 3).


Gutowska, Anna (Linnaeus University, Sweden): “Something Borrowed, Something New: Penny Dreadful as a Neo-Victorian Transfiction”
The paper will examine the critically acclaimed television series Penny Dreadful from the point of view of Marie-Laure Ryan’s transmedial narratology, and especially her concept of transfictionality, understood as the migration of characters, plot structures and settings from one fictional text to another.  

As is the case with other Neo-Victorian media products, the storyworld of Penny Dreadful is rooted  in a dynamic connection between the present and the Victorian past, where the original nineteenth-century texts are treated as inspirations and objects of critical reflection. Uneasily poised between nostalgia and presentism, the series appropriates recognisable characters and plotlines from four nineteenth-century novels (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), and engages in a critique of Victorian notions of family and gender.  

In my paper I would like to use Ryan’s concept of possible relations within a transfiction to discuss Penny Dreadful’s modes of engagement with the four novels from which it draws inspiration. The series has so far been described by critics and scholars as an appropriation, a loose adaptation or a mashup, but analysing it as part of a “transfiction” will allow for a more in-depth study of the ways in which it engages with the out-of-copyright material. Ryan posits that a relationship between two single texts within a transfiction can be seen as a mixture of three distinct modes: redundancy (both texts represent the same elements of the storyworld), expansion (the newer text represents previously unrepresented elements of the storyworld) and modification (a text introduces significant changes into the original storyworld).

In my paper I will explore the different ways in which Penny Dreadful engages with the four novels, and in which it contributes to their respective transfictions, and I will argue that the perspective of transmedia narratology might prove a useful interpretative tool of Neo-Victorian studies.


Ioannidou, Elisavet (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki): “Neo-Victorian Maze-Walking: The Urban, Social, and (Inter)Textual Labyrinths of Ripper Street

Taking Ripper Street (2012-2017) as a case in point, this paper examines how the metaphor of the labyrinth and its attendant practice of maze-walking illustrate neo-Victorianism’s engagement with the past. Being a trial-and-error process, maze-walking is undoubtedly manifested in the protagonists’ strenuous struggle against crime in the labyrinthine Whitechapel, which showcases the architectural implications and social consequences of nineteenth-century urbanization. Oscillating between success and failure, Ripper Street’s protagonists essentially move back and forth between the labyrinth’s horrifying center and its liberatory exit. This fluctuation problematizes the image that neo-Victorianism conjures of the past; though certainly presented as requiring reform, the Victorian past frequently appears to be beyond this possibility, emanating a sense of hopelessness. Interestingly though, Ripper Street challenges this binary, precisely because it presents the struggle against crime parallel to a constantly changing power-dynamic between the main characters. Refusing to attribute to them characteristics that stereotypically transpire from, and cement their social status, the series reconfigures Victorian society as a multicursal maze that promotes mobility over stratification, and, thus, opposes Victorian norms. Bennet Drake, the working-class Detective Sergeant, whose personal and professional development echoes, yet also revises, the prospects available to the slum-dwellers in Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago (1896), exemplifies this social maze-walking. Thus, Drake renders the neo-Victorian series an (inter)textual maze that implicates spectators in a trial-and-error process which seeks to discover whether neo-Victorianism simply partakes in Victorian literature’s attempt to critique the era’s social ills, or moves one step further to actually offer an alternative.


Ionoaia, Eliana (University of Bucharest): Neo-Victorian Orientations – Rewriting the Nineteenth Century Across the Pond

The inception of Neo-Victorian fiction is relegated to the UK and its former colonies, especially Australia, India, New Zealand and Canada. However, in more recent years, this trend has spread to Romanian literature too with titles such as Tache de catifea by Stefan Agopian, Hotel Universul by Simona Sora, Zilele Regelui by Filip Florian and Vieți paralele by Florina Ilis, and more importantly, “across the pond”, with more and more novels, rewriting the nineteenth century and its fictional and historical figures, being written by American authors. By the end of the twentieth century, having gained sufficient distance from the nineteenth century, the past became a fertile ground for revision, adaptation and rewriting. According to Miriam Elizabeth Burstein and her blog The Little Professor, Neo-Victorian literature has become formulaic given the Rules for Writing Neo-Victorian Novels that apply extensively to such texts. A salient question in my paper is whether American authors fall into this same formulaic manner of writing literature that adapts, appropriates and critically comments upon the nineteenth century, or if they eschew it and manage to create works that deviate from the known conventions. Secondly, the paper will analyze the type of dialogue the American revisions of the nineteenth century enter into with the past, either in a nostalgic or in a redemptive key, and where they position themselves related to British Neo-Victorian novels. Finally, I will attempt to identify the focus of these texts in relation to disenfranchised categories, a particular case in point being the neo-slave narratives.


Jones, Adele (Swansea University): “Locating the Victorians: intertextuality and temporality in the novels of Sarah Waters”

In her 2012 essay on Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger (2009), Ann Heilmann convincingly argues that this neo-forties novel is contained within a neo-Victorian frame, synthesising the two genres in a complex exploration of the relationship between our Victorian and post-war pasts. This paper engages with and expands Heilmann’s thesis by suggesting that Waters’s last three novels (The Night Watch (2006), The Little Stranger, and The Paying Guests [2015]) are inextricably intertextually linked with her first three novels. Thus, the neo-Victorian is continually invoked, and a textual triangle is constructed between our contemporary moment, our Victorian past, and the purported twentieth century movement away from the Victorians. Through an elucidation of the intertextual chain running through the novels, this paper will explore the ways in which Waters disrupts temporal linearity. There is a constant resurfacing of the (neo)Victorian in both the post-war moment(s) and the present, resulting in textual disorientation. This strategy, I will argue, distances us from our Victorian past at the same time as centring that past, in a conscious act of revision. If revision is an intervention in both literary and cultural memory, then Waters, through intertextual play, ‘opens up multiple possibilities for re-enactment, reimagining, and reinterpretation’ (Arias and Pulham, 2010, xix) of the Victorian master narratives on which our contemporary period is built. Her neo-Victorianism, then, constructs the Victorians as both Other and completely familiar, problematising our orientation towards them and ultimately, collapsing the distance between us.


Lahoski, Beth Ann (University of Málaga): “A Step in Time and in Space: Encounters with the Other in Travellers’ texts along the Road to Santiago.”

Orientation, or the spatial realm which requires one to adjust to the place in which he finds himself, is the crucial factor in the interpretation of the “Other”. As the visitor fills a new space, his encounter with the Other embodies eminent factors which are internally stowed within him as he struggles to find his space in a new place. His disposition to deal with and mingle with the “Other” in a particular space will lead him to conjure up perceptions of this Other and bear various interpretations of how he views this “Other” which he has encountered. The accessories that he brings within the baggage of his “self”, those pieces of him which he uses to try to relate with whomever he comes across, remain intact and in place. Although he has moved to a new place, he is unable to entirely strip himself of certain tendencies which he brings, even though the terrain which he has reached is entirely a new geographical territory.

Along the pilgrims’ road to Santiago, the wayfarer traces the steps of a countless number of ‘Others’ who once made their way to the shrine of the Saint in the northeastern corner of Spain. He has stepped on to a different road; a road which represents a tunnel of a different spatial time, the tunnel in which the movement of pilgrims in constant flow has been the impetus of endless encounters which have come to define travelers and help form identities of pilgrims and visitors for centuries. For any other, who has stepped into this place or space, taking the role of a pilgrim, from then on belongs to the travelers of the Road of Santiago.

The hospitality encountered in those who have aided the traveler along his journey, those appearing along the pilgrims’ road in or at some point and time during the sojourn, create this orientation that the traveller reaches and experiences as he moves to different towns and villages, finding himself in contrasting spaces in this tunnel which comes to an end in Compostela.

To explain these spatial orientations, literary works of early 20th century from both female and male travellers and authors will be used. Texts will be used which provide evidence of their accounts, of the trials and tribulations, of the recollections of a past journey which inevitably and unexpectedly came to shape their identities. The perception of the “Other” with whom they have encountered in these spaces shines through in the narrative of their works, shedding light upon the topic of orientation as a spatial notion.


Lasa Álvarez, Begoña (Universidad de A Coruña): “Creating a Community of Activist Women in Ellen Clayton’s English Female Artists (1876)”

Ellen Clayton, an illustrator and writer of Irish origin, published her two-volume biographical collection English Female Artists in 1876, with a considerable amount of women’s lives. However, as she stated in the initial paragraphs of the text, women painters “have left but faintly impressed footprints on the sands of time” (I, 2); besides, they had to experience constant difficulties in the artistic realm. Most importantly, Clayton did not restrict the limitations that women had to face solely to their artistic activities or career, but she also exploited women artists’ biographies to problematize on more general issues regarding women’s role and place in society. In this way, she entered in one of the most significant public debates of the day, which was termed by the Victorians as the Woman Question. In Clayton’s text, perseverance and effort are central attributes of women in their artistic endeavours, but some of these women were equally persistent when vindicating women’s rights. Due to their common interests, women artists created public and private networks and associations, which would be instrumental for the development of feminism in the second half of the nineteenth century. Clayton mentions among others “an evening class for ladies, conducted on co-operative principles” (II, 83), organized by Eliza Bridell-Fox, in which participated such artists as Laura Herford and Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, who, as Clayton indicates in their biographies, were also leading activists of the period. Henceforth, inspired by the examples of the women portrayed in this collection, female readers would join an actual or imagined community of women with artistic aspirations, yet with relevant social and political responsibilities as well.


Laurent, Béatrice (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne): “‘A kaleidoscope of images’ :shifting viewpoints, subjectivities and orientation in nineteenth-century Britain”

By the mid-nineteenth century, the chief source of variability had shifted inward, to the multiple subjective viewpoints that shattered a single object into a kaleidoscope of images’ write Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison in Objectivity, their stimulating book on the history of a scientific ideal (2010, 113). My paper purposes to examine how these ‘multiple subjective viewpoints’ were embodied, shared, and how they impacted the scientific world vision the Victorians progressively imposed as mainstream.

Because a consensual a priori vision is necessary to the development and the circulation of knowledge, the collective eye/I sets directions and, in a way, it anticipates the scientific explanations, justifications and discoveries it generates. Indeed, new ways of thinking and new ways of seeing evolve simultaneously as they both depend on the collective stance adopted. In the nineteenth century, according to Michel Foucault, the ‘scientific’ viewpoint, this ‘invariable structuring principle’, moved the perspective from a horizontal to a vertical one (The Order of Things, 219).

Through the examination of scientific visual material, this paper proposes an epistemological enquiry into the shifts in viewpoint that occured in the Victorian period, and an analysis of the changing orientation scientists envisaged in their relation with the natural world.


Lei, Xu (Nanjing University): “Negotiating with Omniscience: (Re)orientations of Temporality in French Lieutenant’s Woman, Possession: A Romance and The Crimson Petal and the White

In Gerard Genette’s tripartite model for narrative voice as proposed in Narrative Discourse, temporality emerges as an important dimension to reveal the narrator’s position relative to the story. Four types of positions are hence prescribed for the relations between the narrating world and the narrated world: subsequent, prior, simultaneous and interpolated. The omniscient narrators in The French Lieutenant’s Woman(1969), Possession: A Romance (1990), The Crimson Petal and the White (2002), are respectively identified to hold subsequent temporal position with a simultaneous twist in the ending, subsequent position with an interpolated present, and simultaneous position with an interpolated present, all of which display a tendency to reorient the subsequent temporality dominating Victorian omniscient narration. Isotopic with these temporal positions are the implied authors’ stances toward the stories set in the Victorian past, which registers the different modes of contact (in Susan Lanser’s words) between the narrator and the narratee, and by extension between the author and the on- going academic discourse on the concept of omniscience. It is right in these terms, the changing temporal positions of the omniscient narrators in the three novels, published decades apart, represent a steady string of efforts to negotiate with the seemingly antiquated literary convention and recruit it into a Neo-Victorian re-orientation towards an increasingly diversified sense of temporality.


Leiva, Jorge (University of Málaga): “The language of museum texts and the language of translation at Victorian museums”

Museums and art centers play a vital role in disseminating culture and heritage. At the same time, visiting this kind of institutions is a key activity of the so-called cultural tourism, with a major impact in worldwide tourism, as the figures by Falk and Dierking (2016: 23) demonstrate. Museums have been the background to a number of studies in connection with language, communication and translation, although in the case of the latter the number of contributions is still low, as Liao (2018: 53) points out: “overall museum translations remain under-researched in Translation Studies.”The first aim of this paper is to study how museum texts are translated into Spanish in museums, art centers and exhibit spaces related to the Victorian era, either because they are thematically connected or because they have been founded within this period. Therefore, this paper aims to be a survey that describes what kind of texts are translated into Spanish within these institutions and how these texts can be characterized in terms of key words, translation techniques and translation quality, among others. Secondly, and depending on how fruitful translation into Spanish in Victorian museums is, a study on the main characteristics of museum texts in English is to be done. To do so, a corpus composed of texts from the aforementioned museums will be compiled. This corpus-based study, in which a comparison against non-Victorian museums will tentatively be done, will try to advance the study of the main features of texts in English from these museums.


Letissier, Georges (Nantes University): “Neo-Dickensian Resonance in John Lanchester’s Capital (2012): Cash Nexus and Textual Network”
John Lanchester’s novel Capital was seen by critics as showing a typically Dickensian touch and its author described as a polymath ―a typically Victorian appellation. Even if Capital, with its distinctly Marxian title, is by no means a neo-Victorian novel, it intersects with state-of-the nation or state-of-London fictions. Admittedly, many of those have remained associated with the name of Charles Dickens. Relying upon Harmunt Rosa’s concept of “resonance”, this paper aims at investigating how the persistence of the Victorian may be found in a novel not deliberately intending to foreground the Victorian age per se.

Rosa’s notion of resonance is phenomenological as it is founded on an awareness of the world which is built on a subjective experience. Resonance postulates the encounter with the Other, which or who, in return, throws back an echo consolidating the present sensation. Resonance may be horizontal or vertical. Rosa speaks about a thread of historical resonance, or diachronic union whenever or wherever the past is experienced – sensorially, emotionally or cognitively – as co-present. This experience of polytemporality entails a dialogue, abolishing any neat distinctions between discrete temporal strata, to allow for a “resonant present” to emerge.The purpose of this paper is to argue that Lanchester’s chronicle of a London street (a very popular chronotope in English culture – both high and low) displays such a “resonant present”, in particular one which is saturated by Dickens’s own representation of London. The prologue introducing digging and the circulation of money has already a feel of both Dombey and Son and Little Dorrit. Later, the character of the artist, aptly named Smitty (for smutty?) confesses to being “a rubbish grandson” (85), which is in itself an odd reminder of Our Mutual Friend, where scavenging would be replaced by artistic parasitism. Of course such intradiegetic allusions to artistic pursuits call to mind Tobias Oates in Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs. However, Lanchester satirizes contemporary art by having his artist figure undermine the mimetic illusion which he so extensively depends upon in his own novel. Indeed, Smitty is obsessed with “mak[ing] holes the work of art” (80) and, in so doing, unwittingly collapses the concern with profusion and plethora which is the very hallmark of Victorianism.  


Llorens-Cubedo, Dídac (UNED): “War is Over and It’s Christmas: It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol

Released one year after the end of the Second World War, Frank Capra’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) affirmed the values of community life and a domestic spirituality associated with the Christmas season. The film was based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story “The Greatest Gift” (1943), and its general aesthetics are evocative of the idealised illustrations of American life by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) – some of which are nostalgically reminiscent of the 19th century. However, in its main theme, structure and characterisation, It’s a Wonderful Life is clearly indebted to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843), the Victorian classic with which modern Christmas was “invented”, and one of Capra’s favourite stories. If in the tale three ghosts redeem Scrooge of his isolating misanthropy on Christmas Eve, in the film the angel Clarence is summoned to prevent George Bailey from committing suicide, also on the night before Christmas. Despite their common experience with supernatural visitors, Scrooge’s counterpart in Capra’s film is not George, a generous and personable young man, the self-sacrificing humane manager of the co-operative Building and Loan, loved and trusted by the community. Mr Potter is the greedy and ruthless banker, the Scrooge of the film and George’s enemy; the connection with Dickens’s tale is reinforced by elements of Potter’s characterisation: his old- fashioned carriage and office, his retinue of employees resembling servants. I propose to explore It’s a Wonderful Life in its double chronological orientation: its drawing on a Victorian classic and its hope of recovery after the war.


Loh, Waiyee (University of Warwick): “Who Owns the Victorians?: Possession and the Question of Cultural Property”

With half of its narrative set in nineteenth-century Britain and the other half in the Thatcherite 1980s, A. S. Byatt’s neo-Victorian novel Possession draws parallels between the Victorian past and the novel’s contemporary present, directing the reader’s attention in particular to the increasing commodification of the past, including the Victorian past, in Britain under the Thatcher administration. The 1980s in Britain was a moment in which heritage became especially prominent in government policy and public life. Today, heritage in Britain has become ubiquitous, taking the form of diverse things and practices ranging from “stately homes” and Battle of Bosworth re-enactments to Laura Ashley prints and “heritage” soap dishes. The trope of possession in Byatt’s novel has multiple meanings, not least of which is the possession or ownership of objects inherited from the past. In making the ownership of cultural property a central focus of narrative interest, Possession parodies the burgeoning of the “heritage industry” and its notion of patrimony in 1980s Britain. It pokes fun at Anglo-American competition over cultural property in this relentless commodification of British heritage, not only since the 1980s, but also in the Victorian past that the novel depicts. Possession connects the British heritage industry in the present with the history of the concept of cultural property, which gained credence in Britain in the long nineteenth century partly in reaction to the threat of wealthy Americans purchasing heritage monuments and artefacts that the British felt was rightfully theirs.


Lorenzo Modia, María Jesús (Universidad de A Coruña): “Elizabeth Gaskell’s Trade Unionism in North and South: Women as the Other”

North and South is a Victorian novel published in instalments in 1855 and structured around contraries, opposed elements, which may or may not be reconciled. Its title is in itself an emblem of those dichotomies between the peaceful South and the convoluted North of England, between the (new) rich and the (new) poor, and the very date of publication takes us to a period of social turmoil in England since both the Industrial Revolution and the bleak conditions imposed on workers brought about much suffering and riots against poverty, as well as writings and projects in order to bring about change. Victorian women writers explored their relationships with the Other in their private sphere and very rarely in the public one both in life and in literature. This paper, based in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, will explore the representation of strength as the “rationale” for trade unions and the role women may have in class conflicts and in their possible solutions.


Losada Friend, María (Universidad Pablo de Olavide): “‘A power so obscure, and, at present, beyond our diction’: Translating Martineau’s Letters on Mesmerism (1845) and her rational exposure of irrational issues”

Harriet Martineau, well-known Victorian sage who rationally stood up against unjust social, political and cultural issues paradoxically proved a vein that met Victorian fondness for the analysis of the power of the mind and its manifestations. At a time when Spiritualism, Mesmerism or Phrenology were leit-motifs in letters, essays and literary productions, her vindication for the use of the scientific method to analyse the benefits of Mesmerism and for the creation of a valid institution in charge -“a curative agency”-  marked her contribution to the birth of psychology, as analysed by Torgeson (2017). Translating Martineau’s Letters on Mesmerism with a Neo-victorian prism allows the reading of her ideas in a process of dynamic interplay between past and present. It shows Martineau’s serious reflections within the context of other philosophical, intellectual and scientific discussions that attempted incursions on the irrational side of life, such as Schopenhauer’s “Essay on Spirit seeing and everything connected therewith” (1851) and confirms her social orientation towards a beneficial dimension of Mesmerism.


Mesa Villar, José María (Universidad Católica de Murcia): “Refashioning the Rossettis for the 21st Century: Appropriation, Addition and Omission Routines in the BBC Serial Drama Desperate Romantics (2009)

This proposal draws on visual and biographical analysis to examine the portrayal of the personal and professional bonds between the Pre-Raphaelite artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal in the BBC series Desperate Romantics (2009). Although not the first to focus on the ups and downs of their relationship (previous television productions on this same topic include Ken Russell’s 1868 biopic Dante’s Inferno (1868) or John Hale’s The Love School, broadcasted seven years later) the 2009 series has proven particularly successful in presenting a bold, stylish (but also risky) retelling of the story of the original Pre-Raphaelite Circle in a way which may appeal to both connoisseurs and newcomers alike. While projecting a share of contemporary topics and aspects in the process, the dialogue established with the mid-Victorian past skilfully captures and updates the usual mixture of enthusiasm, defiance and frustration which has become a constant in most critical (Doughty, Marsh, Prettejohn, McGann…) and artistic (Savage, Hickney, Muñoz Puelles…) approaches to Rossetti, Miss Siddal and their contemporaries. Nonetheless, one may also easily notice a range of biased omissions, additions and distortions guiding the audience towards a somewhat reductionistic -or even prejudiced- view of Rossetti’s role, his treatment of Miss Siddal and the latter’s relevance in his aesthetic programme. Our aim is not essentially to gauge this series’ biographical accuracy, but to examine whether it simply rekindles the ‘dark legend’ about Rossetti and Siddal, or else stands as a genuine attempt at connecting the spirit of Pre-Raphaelitism with a modern audience.


Mitchell, Kate (Australian National University): “The Art of Neo-Victorian Fiction”
In the past three decades, neo-Victorian studies has developed a series of orientations including an examination of the way the text constructs and critiques conventional historical representations; how the past is depicted as haunting the present; and the multiple ways gender is represented, including its encoding by scientific discourses. Overarching these focal points is an ongoing critique of nostalgia for the Victorian period and of what can appear as a prurient fascination with the darker aspects of that era. What has arisen is a series of tensions in the way neo-Victorian texts depict our relation to the nineteenth-century past, as academic pursuit or sensorial perception; as a decline from a golden age, or a period against which our progress can be measured and celebrated; and, as always already passed, or a ghostly presence in the present. This paper focuses on the use of art in neo-Victorian fiction, which also mediates our nineteenth-century orientation. It asks how the use of visual art as a particular kind of historical trace thematises, aligns with or, alternatively, challenges the key points of critique around which neo-Victorian studies orients itself. It suggests that considering thematic treatments of visual art in neo-Victorian fiction can contribute to our taking stock of central threads, or lines of debate, in the field. Drawing on examples from several texts, including The Swan Thieves and Beauty in Thorns, the paper focuses on revisiting two art movements of the nineteenth century, asking: how might Impressionism’s pursuit of overarching visual effects, rather than accurate, realistic detail, speak to critiques of neo-Victorianism’s production of nineteenth-century effects, as opposed to an accurate portrayal of history? And, how does pre-Raphaelitism’s orientation toward medievalism speak to neo-Victorianism’s pastiche of nineteenth-century styles in order to speak to the present?
Monrós-Gaspar, Laura (Universitat de València): “The 1893 balloon ascent: A dynamic and gendered map of London’s Entertainment”

Nineteenth-century London was an effervescent and vibrant web of imaginative interactions and experiences for city-dwellers with countless invisible threads to unveil. One of such invisible microcosms was spectacle; an industry which was key for understanding the development of modernity and the city. Copious geographies of nineteenth-century London spectacle have been mapped following different scales and criteria. Yet the various ways of viewing, mapping and experiencing the city are not objective and innocuous representations of spatial relations. If we take for granted Lefebvre’s ideas that maps always represent a certain form of power to make sense of the world, the process of mapping has correspondingly the power of bringing to light other challenging perspectives; alternative spatial orientations.

As I aim to demonstrate here, the map London’s nineteenth-century entertainment industry is a dynamic space which offers multifarious readings. In this paper I offer an unconventional and gendered map which has women as transmitters of the classics in the theatrical industry as its central focus. For my analysis, I have limited my time span to the year 1893, which coincides in time with the boom of the fallen woman on stage. I consider the balloon-view of the city from the 1893 ascents at the Crystal Palace to uncover numerous theatrical venues (women’s clubs, pleasure gardens and concert halls, among others) that validate the theory that women as creators and agents of the classical revival played an essential role in the theatre history of the nineteenth century which has long been forgotten.


Muñoz Valdivieso, Sofía (University of Málaga): “Neo-Victorian Orientations in Caryl Phillips’s Fiction”
The British writer Caryl Phillips has repeatedly recreated in his novels the past of Britain and the British Empire with stories that capture individual uprooting and displacement. He has acknowledged that somehow most of writing is an attempt to understand not only the past existence of Atlantic slavery but its continued and inescapable legacy in the present, and many of his novels recreate hidden narratives of the slave trade and slavery and their role in the creation of wealth in the British Empire.

The present paper considers how Phillips’ fiction has explored the cultural texture and the writings of the Victorian period through the analysis of three novels from different moments of his literary career. They show how his orientation when dealing with Victorian culture and history is always inflected by issues of race and belonging: he engages with Victorian women’s travelogues to portray nineteenth-century ideals of womanhood against the background of Caribbean plantation life in Cambridge (1991); he re-imagines Emily Brönte’s foundling Heathcliff as the mixed-race child of Mr. Earnshaw and a former slave woman in Liverpool in The Lost Child (2015); and he recreates the Caribbean early years of a character that very much resembles Jean Rhys in one of the sections of A View of Empire from Sunset (2018). Like the rest of his work, these novels interrogate triumphant notions of Empire and Britishness, as they find faultlines in constructions of British culture based on the exclusion of the various others that have populated through the centuries not only the distant lands of the Empire but
the very centre of it.


Nally, Claire (Northumbria University): “Irish Neo-Victorianism and Contemporary Appropriations of the Famine”

The notion of Irish Neo-Victorianism is a paradox, identifying two incompatible experiences of the nineteenth century. To be Irish and nationalist was to reject the authority of Queen Victoria. In fact, she was heralded as ‘the famine queen’ by Maud Gonne (1900), in an essay of the same name. The contested territory of Ireland in the nineteenth century was frequently beset by political agitation, revolution, and rural, politicised secret societies. Irish Neo- Victorianism therefore addresses these subsumed narratives whilst at the same time accounting for the concrete specificity of the Irish experience: as both the oldest colony and an uneasy neighbour, Ireland is very much an ‘anomalous state’ (Lloyd, 1993).

Specifically recovering the history of the Irish Famine (an Gorta Mór) in Neo-Victorianism, this paper will rethink the characterization of Neo-Victorian studies as urban, London- centred, and pseudo-Dickensian. In a short pamphlet by Pádraig Ó Móráin (1957), called ‘A Short Account of the History of Burrishoole Parish’, the famine is represented by absence, silence, and lack: ‘We have very little documentary evidence of the sufferings of our people in that hour of darkest tragedy.’ Framing contemporary accounts of the famine within Neo- Victorianism rethinks this silence: Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder (2016), Colm Toíbín’s The Master (2004), Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea (2003), Brian Friel’s play Translations (1980), and the BBC TV series The Hanging Gale (1995), all provide a historicised and mediated entry into Ireland’s traumatic history, a partial recovery of lost narratives, and also a recontextualization of Neo-Victorianism itself.


Nolan, Meghan P. (SUNY Rockland): “The Charitable and the Chastened: The Socially Mobile Female in Victorian Mysteries”

It is often through social mobility or ambiguity that criminal motives in Victorian mysteries can be fully unearthed, and this is just as true for pieces written during the nineteenth century as it is for those composed today. This essay analyses the evolution of perceptions of social mobility in the form of interaction among various classes outside of the domestic setting for contemporary versions of Victorian women in relation to those characterisations of the day through the common tropes of birthright (and its associated guilt), charity and marriage. Detective fiction is the perfect vehicle for this enquiry, because as Catherine Nickerson asserts in “Murder as Social Criticism,” “the genre is deeply enmeshed with most of the thornier problems of the Victorian [… era] including gender roles and privileges, racial prejudice and the formation of racial consciousness, the significance and morality of wealth and capital, and the conflicting demands of privacy and social control” (744). Thus, more specifically, this chapter uses texts on gender, etiquette and feminism to examine and compare portrayals of women’s social mobility from actual Victorian mysteries, such as those from Charles Dickens’s Bleak House (serialised between March of 1852 and September of 1853), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891), and Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (1906) with those in the William Monk series by Anne Perry (1990-present) and the Sebastian St. Cyr series by C.S. Harris (2005-present). This essay ultimately proposes that changing views on marriage have had the greatest effect on the ways in which the new Victorian female is portrayed in detective fiction, as contemporary characters possess greater freedoms in their approaches to solving crimes indicative of a post-second-wave feminist re-envisioning of the woman’s role in society.


O’Callaghan, Claire (Loughborough University): “Rocking Haworth: Feminism and the Brontës on the Twenty-First Century Stage – Carl Miller and Christopher Ash’s Wasted”.

As Beth Palmer and Benjamin Poore noted in their 2016 ‘Introduction’ to a special issue of Neo-Victorian Studies, neo-Victorian theatre often integrates ‘nineteenth-century venues, costumes and spectacle’ with ‘neo-Victorian performance’ as a means of ‘summoning up’ the Victorian past (p. 1). This enables the revival of nineteenth-century narratives for present-day audiences, but also facilitates the orientation agenda of contemporary playwrights who are (often) invested in elucidating a ‘double-act of surprise and recognition’ between the nineteenth-century past and the contemporary present; as Palmer and Poore put it, ‘the Victorians were so strange; the Victorians were strange like us’ (p. 2).

Using Palmer and Poore’s ‘double-act’ concept as a starting point, this paper examines the orientation “project” at play in Carl Miller and Christopher Ash’s Brontë rock musical, Wasted (2016). Wasted retells the Brontës’ life story through rock music and ponders whether the dynamic siblings’ lives were ‘wasted’ because of the strict social conventions of mid-Victorian England.  

Through a focus on the gendered dynamics at play in Wasted’s libretto, this paper argues that Miller and Ash’s ‘double-act of surprise and recognition’ between the Brontë sisters’ lives and the present-day also functions to feminist effect. As I will show, the social restrictions at play in nineteenth-century Haworth, especially with regards to desire and professional aspiration, are reworked here as a reminder of women’s inability to ‘have it all’ (despite feminism gains) in the contemporary present. Wasted uses rock music to orientate the Brontës for the “X-Factor” generation, but as I will show, the layering of their life story through the rock metaphor also reflects the feminist politics of Generation X.


Patnaik, Anhiti (Birla University of Technology and Science-Pilani, India): “Neo-Victorian (Dis)Orientation in Penny Dreadful and Picture of Dorian Gray

This paper theoretically extends the concept of ‘orientation’ – as it is being connected to neo-Victorianism–to an aesthetic of ‘disorientation.’ Where orientation connotes a dialogic and reciprocal move towards familiarization, embodiment, and the creation of new meaning, disorientation implies a turning away from a cardinal point, or meaning itself. By comparing two neo-Victorian images – the promotional poster for Season 3 of the television series Penny Dreadful and Ivan Albright’s 1944 painting Picture of Dorian Gray, this paper argues that neo- Victorianism does not ‘represent’ the Victorian age in a conventional sense but rather, invokes it in order to disorient the audience. The poster art for Penny Dreadful disavows any connection to its transcendental Victorian context and shows instead a crouching, tormented body fused with the image of a skull. The same affect is generated in Albright’s painting where the Victorian phenomenon “Dorian Gray” is reduced to its noumenon – a rotting, disintegrating and abject body. Both poster and painting draw attention to how the neo-Victorian aesthetically uses an object-oriented ontological stance to remediate, re-orient (and thereby) disorient the white, masculine anthropocentricism of Victorian culture. This paper further speculates that this aesthetic of disorientation may have had its roots in Oscar Wilde’s 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Through Dorian’s peculiar relationship with his portrait, Wilde proved that art and literature do not merely represent reality but change and challenge that very reality by disorienting and de-familiarizing the audience’s expectations. In a way, this paper appends the term ‘disorientation’ to Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn’s seminal definition of the neo- Victorian as a genre self-consciously engaged in “(re)interpretation, (re)discovery and (re)vision concerning the Victorians.


Pedro Mustieles, Leopoldina (University of Valencia): “Recovering (neo-)Victorian Voices: Fighting Female Oppression in Penny Dreadful (2014-2016).”

During the last decades, neo-Victorian fiction has attained both critical and popular acclaim, due to both a nostalgia for Victorian modes of representation, as well as a desire to recuperate marginalized voices from the period. Furthermore, at a time when women are increasingly fighting for their right to be heard, neo-Victorian fiction has the potential to recover the stories of nineteenth-century female characters ‘who did not comply with Victorian constructions of femininity’ (Arias and Pulham xix). On the other hand, (neo-)Victorian screen adaptations are currently gaining momentum, especially TV series such as Penny Dreadful (2014-2016), Frankenstein’s Chronicles (2015-), or Taboo (2017-). This paper examines how female oppression is portrayed in Penny Dreadful (2014-2016), by exploring the ethical implications that this representation might have on both Victorian and contemporary settings. First, I analyse how the historical distancing establishes a dialogical relationship between the Victorian past and the present time, which might allow contemporary spectators define their stance on female oppression in a more impartial and detached way. Secondly, I argue that most neo-Victorian creators return to the nineteenth century, as it is considered the point of departure of some of our present concerns, so as to find a resolution to these conflicts. The results of this paper show that neo-Victorian fiction brings social wrongs to the surface that still have current relevance at present, and recovers the hidden narratives of Victorian women, in order to empower their contemporary counterparts to make their voices be heard.


Primorac, Antonija (University of Rijeka): “Three Ladies Macbeth and A Critique of Colonial Reason in Contemporary Neo-Victorianism on Screen ”

The blurb on the 2017 DVD of William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth declares that the film ‘is a powerful portrait of a beautiful, determined and merciless young woman seizing her independence in a world dominated by men’. As a cross-cultural adaptation and translation of Nikolai Leskov’s novella, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, first published in Russian in 1865, Oldroyd’s film performs a re-appropriation of Leskov’s appropriation of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth by setting the narrative in Victorian Britain. This paper argues that Oldroyd’s adaptation works as a neo-Victorian critique of the tacitly imperialist subtext often present in period dramas that depict a white female Victorian protagonist’s self-realisation. Taking my cue from Gayatri Spivak’s seminal analysis of Jane Eyre in ‘Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Postcolonial Reason’, I focus on the film’s radically changed ending and examine the implications of the choice of BAME actors in key roles. Expanding on Christine Geraghty’s work (2018) on BAME casting in recent British-made period dramas, I contend that Oldroyd’s reworking of Leskov’s text offers a sly neo-Victorian critique of the cliched, but overlooked, narrative arc of the white, middle-class, and implicitly imperialist, women’s liberation from strict Victorian mores—an emancipation that has been facilitated by, or made at the cost of, her racially-other female counterpart(s) in the narrative.


Piñero Gil, Eulalia (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “Suzan-Lori Park’s Venus: A Neo-Victorian Body on Stage”

The contemporary African American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks wrote the play Venus based on the historical figure of Sarah Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman who lived in South Africa (1789-1815). In 1810 the British surgeon William Dunlop bought her and took her away to London, where she was called the “Hottentot Venus” and displayed in a cage. Thus, she was exhibited as a freak in fairs all over England and France because her enormous buttocks and hypertrophied vaginal labia had been manipulated in Africa so that they reached an extraordinary size. In fact, they were called the Hottentots’ apron. (Neo-Victorian Freakery, H. Davis, 2015).

The amazing story of a fortune-seeker African woman was transformed by Parks into a fluid transnational and a transcultural neo-Victorian biodrama about the colonization of the African female body that brings to stage an amazing character who has a haunting voice with insightful reflections. In Venus the playwright transforms Sarah Baartman’s story and analyzes, with an intriguing language, how the Victorian anthropological and scientific theories about colour, race, gender, and national differences were used to justify colonial imperialism and racial exploitation. Therefore, the African female body becomes a symbol of the history of the dispossessed but paradoxically the play also reflects on how the protagonist develops into a prisoner of her own colonized body. In this paper, I explore how Parks’s neo-Victorian re-writing of Sarah Baartman’s colonial story brings to the present a ubiquitous character on stage that speaks about African colonization, slavery in the United States, and the contemporary commercialization of the female body. In the same way, I analyze how a colonial individual story becomes the universal history of the African women and their cultural objectification by the empire.


Riccioni, Angelo (Parthenope University of Naples): “A. S. Byatt and the Cruel Fairies of the Edwardian Era”

Considered by many critics her highest achievement in storytelling, The Children’s Book  by A. S. Byatt (2009) has often been read as a palimpsest of different late-Victorian features, ranging from the Woman Question to the problematic inheritance of the fairy tale. Among the authors chosen as a specimen by Byatt for her imitation of this typical fin de siècle genre, critics have singled out J.M. Barrie, Andrew Lang and Kenneth Grahame. There is one writer, nevertheless, that has escaped their notice: Maurice Hewlett (1861-1923) who, although nowadays largely forgotten, was one of the most popular author of the Edwardian era. According to Byatt, his bizarre autobiographical account of encounters with fairies,The Lore of Proserpine (1913), was instrumental in her own comprehension of the Edwardian obsession with the fairy lore.

In this connection, my paper aims to investigate to what extent the depiction of fairies adopted by Hewlett in his book has been appropriated and re-shaped by Byatt.

To this end, chapters of the novel quoting Hewlett, as well as articles written years before the publication of The Children’s Book, are examined with the aim of providing to future readers a better understanding of her last work, a masterpiece of inter-textual ingenuity in which Hewlett’s approach to elves and fairies plays a dominant role.


Sullivan, Ashleigh Taylor (Swansea University): ““Jane, always Jane. I should never be rid of Jane” Neo-Victorian Gothic Orientations in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger

Although neither Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1939) nor Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger (2009) are set during the Victorian era, the considerable influence of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) on both is clearly apparent, giving these texts a distinct neo-Victorian Gothic orientation. The Victorian Gothic and later sensation fiction also relocated familiar tropes of eighteenth century Gothic fictions within more modern settings, domesticating tropes of ruins, abbeys, and castles into ancestral mansions, such as Brontë’s Thornfield Hall. This change helped assure the continuation of the Gothic genre well into the twentieth- and now twenty-first centuries, influencing authors such as du Maurier, who would later inspire Waters. This paper argues that the Victorian era persistently returns to haunt the reader through adaptations of Gothic mansions that repress and provoke marital and familial breakdown. Despite a shift in time and setting, the intertextual relationship between these texts is explicit in the authors’ deliberate adoption of the Victorian Gothic style. Moreover, they do so self-consciously, subverting the reader’s expectations of the Gothic novel. Through the trope of the declining ancestral estate/country manor house, this paper will explore the transformation of social relations to suggest how the neo-Victorian Gothic genre is oriented toward the future yet reminiscent of the past. 


Suwa, Akira (Cardiff University): “Traces of Victorian Britain in Northeast Asia: Cross-Cultural Neo-Victorianism in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden

This paper investigates the way The Handmaiden (2017), South-Korean adaptation of Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith (2002), provides a way of considering neo-Victorian adaptation in the globalised context. Although set in Korea under Japanese colonial rule in the 1930s, the film indirectly refers to the influence of Victorian Britain in the background. Replacing Fingersmith’s class conflict with the cultural conflict between Japan and Korea, The Handmaiden represents the intricate process of cultural colonisation. Korean society in the 1930s is depicted in the film as doubly indebted to Victorian British and Japanese culture, for Japan modernised the country through absorbing Western culture in the late nineteenth century.

The Handmaiden’s engagement with Victorian Britain demonstrates Priya Joshi’s statement that ‘”Victorian” refers today … to a set of interrelated cultural, intellectual, and social preoccupations that far outlive the originary moment’1. The influence of Victorian Britain that has a looming presence in the background of The Handmaiden is a case in point, for the film reveals the way Victorian British culture resonates in a country distant from Britain in a different time period. The Handmaiden serves to globalise the definition of the term ‘(neo-)Victorian’ by shedding light on the influence of Victorian Britain in Korean society in the 1930s. The Handmaiden’s unique way of bringing together Victorian Britain and the regional politics of 1930s Northeast Asia serves to widen the range of neo-Victorian imaginations.

1. Priya Joshi, ‘Globalizing Victorian Studies’, The Yearbook of English Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (2011), p. 38.


Tomaiuolo, Saverio (Cassino University): ““A Poet is Born, not Mad(e)”: John Clare’s Afterlives”

The destiny of John Clare, the so-called “peasant poet” from Helpston, may be seen a paradigmatic example of the dissolution of Romantic poetics, which coincideed with the entrance in the Victorian frame of mind.

Contemporary novelists and filmmakers have shown a great interest in the story of this unfortunate and unique artist, who was considered a sort of cultural freak. In my paper I will focus in particular on Hugh Lupton’s novel The Ballad of John Clare (2010), which describes Clare’s formative years at Helpston, followed by Adam Foulds’s The Quickening Maze (2009), which narrates Clare’s experience in Dr. Matthew Allens’s asylum in High Beech during the same years in which Alfred Tennyson attended this medical institution. John Clare makes his appearance also in John Logan’s successful TV series Penny Dreadful (2014-2016), set in late-Victorian London, in the role of Victor Frankenstein’s creature. Finally, I will treat Andrew Kötting’s movie By Our Selves (2015), which re-imagines Clare’s memorable 80-miles walk from Epping Forest to Northborough through an allusive and provocative visual style, alongside Iain Sinclair’s Edge of the Orison (2005), which similarly retraces Clare’s escape from the asylum by mixing a narration “on the road” and a reflection on the nature of poetic inspiration.

By analysing Clare’s various textual afterlives, my paper aims at proving that the recuperation of this poet as a transitional figure can further illuminate our understanding of the nineteenth century and, at the same time, can help to reflect on contemporary issues such as ecology, isolation, and the discrimination of what society reputes as deviants.


Wadoux, Charlotte (University of Kent (UK)/Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 (France)): “Detecting/reading/authoring: Sherlock Holmes and gamebooks for children”

Neo-Victorianism is now acknowledged as an important literary and cultural phenomenon as shows the extensive scholarship that emerged in the last two decades. However, few attention has been paid to particular areas such as graphic texts for children. Anna Maria Jones and Rebecca N. Mitchell’s groundbreaking study Drawing on the Victorians uncovered the importance of the interplay between images and text calling for new reading/interpreting process in both Victorian and neo-Victorian graphic texts. Most strikingly, they claim that such texts “construct theories about the act of reading and the role of the reader.” (Jones & Mitchell 27). The following paper follows their lead while being oriented towards graphic texts for children/young adults.

I offer to take a close look at a series of French gamebooks rewriting the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes – BD dont vous êtes le héros. These gamebooks offer children another kind of engagement with graphic texts since they are asked to read “visual palimpsests” while also being invited to endorse an active position within the narrative. Indeed, readers are invited to take up the role of Holmes himself, Irene Adler or even Moriarty. This kind of graphic texts, I contend, reconfigures the relation to the narrative which becomes discontinuous and uncertain. Reading turns into an investigation, a performance which blurs the boundary separating reader and author. I would thus like to suggest that such new graphic texts inscribe themselves within the concerns of the neo-Victorian agenda by questioning the status of narrative, authorship and of the reading process.


Woodward-Smith, Elizabeth (Universidad de A Coruña): “Striking Women and Victorian Trade Unionism”
The phenomenon and growth of trade unionism is usually associated, on a popular level, with male workers, but female workers have contributed historically in an important way, and even to a surprising extent. In 2014, it was noted that for the first time in Britain, union membership was almost 55% female, with the figure rising to 80% in one of the largest unions 1 (Morning Star 2). Although women were instrumental in the founding of the labour movement, once it became institutionalized it concentrated on the needs of male workers. Women workers who became part of the women’s movement were “viewed as ‘the other,’ and often subjected to outright hostility, rather than [as] an integral part of the British workers’ movement” (Busby and Zahn, 2016 3). Women who pioneered collective action against exploitation by their factory employers were seen as a serious threat to society and moral values, and according to the TUC’s parliamentary secretary in 1875, they were to be encouraged to stay in “their proper sphere at home” instead of competing with men for a living (Busby and Zahn, 2016). However, the so-called ‘trade societies’ for women began to appear in the 1870s and 1880s during the economic slump in which ‘New unionism’ emerged, aiming to be more open and inclusive.

Female workers organized a famous and successful strike at the Bryant & May match factory in the East End of London in 1888, an example of growing trade union organization amongst women. This paper aims to trace the origins and impact of women’s participation in the struggle for labour rights, and their recognition as a driving force in the union movement during the Victorian period.

1. Unison: public employees and the health services.

2. “A world to win: Women and trade unions.” Accessed 22.11.2018

3. Busby, Nicole and Rebecca Zahn, 2016. “A Dangerous Combination?” Accessed 22.11.2018


Call For Papers (closed)

Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn’s acclaimed The Victorians in the TwentyFirst Century, 1999-2009 (2010) offered insight into how neo-Victorianism had evolved as a historical sub-genre in the first decade. Now, nearly two decades into the twenty first century, neo-Victorianism has consolidated into a literary genre and cultural phenomenon that continues to gain both in popularity and critical appraisal, and current trends in neo-Victorianism continue expanding and diversifying. Thus, we perceive that we have reached a point of reflection and, therefore, we wish to explore new paths and intersections of (neo-)Victorianism.

This conference examines (neo-)Victorian diversifications into the twenty-first century exploring the notion of ‘orientation’, a dialogical concept itself because it indicates one’s position in relation to something or someone. We aim to conceptualise the current interest in dynamic processes, notions of becoming, fluidity and multilayering in the neo-Victorian mode through the lens of ‘orientation’. We would like to develop this idea in close relationship to the dynamic interplay between the past and the present, the Victorians and us. This way, this notion bears similarities to the “polytemporality” of the trace in that it underlines the “dynamic interplay and interrelations between past, present, and future as modes of temporal orientation” (Victoria Browne). In addition, Sarah Ahmed’s concept of ‘orientation’, inspired by Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, has explored the spatial quality of the term in relation to queer phenomenology and embodied situatedness. Therefore, we wish to examine ‘orientation’ as place, habitation and space in different senses in that it directs itself towards the space in between bodies and objects, but also in the sense of the individual’s orientation towards the Other. Ultimately, we would like to address the concept ‘orientation’ from these interrelated perspectives (1) ‘orientation’ as an apt critical tool to analyse time, as the passage of the ‘trace’, polytemporal and dynamic, and (2) ‘orientation’ as a spatial notion, which serves to address questions of mobility, movement, and the in-between space that exists between bodies and objects, in phenomenological terms, as well as the I-you relationship that emerges in the encounter with the ‘other’.

We have welcomed proposals for 20-minute papers in the following topics (but not limited to) on (neo-)Victorian ‘Orientations’:

  • Theoretical approaches and conceptualisations of “orientation”
  • Passages, processes and the dynamic continuums between the Victorian past and the contemporary period.
  • (Neo-)Victorianism oriented towards the past, the present and the future
  • Time and temporality in neo-Victorian fiction; (multiple) temporality; Polytemporality
  • Future incursions into the nineteenth century
  • Situatedness, embodiment and the senses
  • The Victorians Unbound
  • Spatial orientations: spatial conceptions, dynamic spaces, geographical orientations
  • Neo-Victorianism and the ethical encounter with the ‘other’; Orientations towards Otherness and the Other
  • Neo-Victorianism and queer orientations
  • Neo-Victorian orientations and orientalism; cultural cross points
  • Multicultural, cross-cultural and global neo-Victorianism
  • Neo-Victorian literature oriented towards Children and Young Adults
  • New orientations towards the Victorians: digital humanities and (neo-) Victorianism