Third Annual Conference of the Edwardian Culture Network

University of Bristol, 30TH-31ST MARCH 2015


Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Professor Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol) and Dr. Sarah Turner (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)


Call for Papers:  (pdf version: Enchanted Edwardians CFP )

‘The Hills are empty now, and all the People of the Hills are gone. I’m the only one left. I’m Puck, the oldest Old Thing in England, very much at your service if—if you care to have anything to do with me’.

Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906)

Edwardian culture is filled with otherworldly encounters: from Rat and Mole’s meeting with Pan on the riverbank in Wind in the Willows (1908), to Lionel Wallace’s glimpse of an enchanted garden beyond the green door in H. G. Well’s short story The Door in the Wall (1911). In art, Charles Conder’s painted fans evoked an exotic arcadia, whilst the music of Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius conjured up nostalgic dreamlands.

Such encounters are all the more powerful because of their briefness: the sense that enchantment is, as Kipling suggests in Puck of Pook’s Hill, fast becoming a thing of the past. What room was left for fantasy in the modern, scientifically advanced world of the early twentieth century? This conference seeks to explore this question, and to investigate other ways in which the Edwardians understood and employed the idea of the enchanted, the haunted and the supernatural.

We invite 300-word proposals for papers on any aspect of the theme ‘Enchanted Edwardians’, from scholars working in all fields of British culture c.1895-1914. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

♦ Art as a process of enchantment: enchantment as a metaphor for art; the legacy of Pre-Raphaelitism and Symbolism in art; the representation, or musical evocation, of enchanted worlds.

♦ Childhood: childhood as an enchanted land; representations and understandings of childhood in Edwardian culture and psychology; Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie and the ‘Golden Age’ of children’s literature.

♦  Enchanted and Haunted Spaces: Britain as an ‘enchanted isle'; the landscape as a culmination of historically enchanted layers; Conan Doyle and the concept of ‘lost worlds’; echoes of ‘Eden’, ‘Cockaigne’ and ‘Arcadia’.

♦  Fairytales and Mythologies: fantasy literature in the Edwardian age; appropriation of mythological stories; Yeats and the Celtic Revival.

♦  Psychologies: psychoanalysis and the dream-world; Freud and British culture; art and interiority.

♦  Science and Technology: new inventions and breakthroughs such as the motor car, air travel, quantum theory, x-ray, Marconi and the trans-Atlantic telegraph; science fiction; time-travel.

♦  Sensuality and the ‘Other': enchantment and exoticism; the enchantment of other cultures; Omar Khayyam and the Arabian Nights; the Edwardian interest in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese cultures.

♦  Spirituality and the Supernatural: theosophy; mysticism; witchcraft and the occult; ghost stories; séances; theological modernism; the relationship between culture and religion; James Frazer and the ‘The Golden Bough’.

♦  Disenchantment: enchantment and its antitheses; fantasy versus realism; the magical and the prosaic; imagination and pragmatism.

Proposals should be sent to no later than December 5th 2014. For more about the Edwardian Culture Network, including previous conferences and events, see





The Old Library, Keele Hall, KEELE UNIVERSITY 17TH-18TH OCTOBER 2014

At once both a commercially-successful and an experimental writer, Bennett’s range encompassed commercial fiction and naturalism, self-help books and short stories, journalism and science-fiction. Though he was held in high esteem by many of his contemporaries, Bennett’s critical reputation has suffered over the course of the twentieth century. ‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’  presented Bennett as an icon of the Edwardian age, fundamental to our understanding of the period, and a writer whose work needs to be considered specifically in an Edwardian context. It also explored Bennett’s relevance and legacy to twenty-first century readerships.

Speakers included Professor David Amigoni (Keele University), Professor Ruth Robbins (Leeds Beckett), and Professor Deborah Wynne (University of Chester).



When the Lamps Went Out:H. G. Wells and his World on the Eve of the War

H. G. Wells Society Conference, Durham

27 September 2014

Plenary speakers: Professor Matthew Pateman (Sheffield Hallam University) and Megan Shepherd (author of The Madman’s Daughter).

This year saw the anniversary of the outbreak of what H. G. Wells optimistically hoped would be ‘The War that Will End War’. When the Lamps Went Out sought to  take a snapshot of the literary, political and social landscape at the end of the ‘long nineteenth century’ and the dawn of the First World War.

When the Lamps Went Out was a collaboration between Durham University Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, the H. G. Wells Society and the Edwardian Culture Network. The conference marked the launch of the exhibition Books for Boys: Heroism, Empire and Adventure at the Dawn of the First World War. Books for Boys told the story of Britain and Germany in the years leading up to the Great War through showing what the public enjoyed reading.The exhibition also displayed late-Victorian and Edwardian maps, toys, uniforms, photographs, pictures, medals, literary memorabilia and other artefacts and ephemera.


Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes, April 2014

The second annual conference of the Edwardian Culture Network was held at the University of Liverpool on the 10-11th April, 2014. There were twenty papers, including a keynote lecture by Jonathan Wild (University of Edinburgh).


History is not like a bus-line on which the vehicle changes all its passengers and crew whenever it gets to the point marking its terminus. Nevertheless, if there are dates which are more than conveniences for the purposes of periodisation, August 1914 is one of them. (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire)

At the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, how useful is it to think about the Edwardian era as ending decisively in 1914? Indeed, how helpful have conventional boundaries of periodisation been in our understanding of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century British culture?

Rather than viewing ‘the Edwardian’ as a fixed and isolated historic moment, this conference seeks to open up new ways of thinking about the premonitions and echoes of the Edwardian age. Just as the 1880s and 1890s can be interpreted as ‘proto-Edwardian’, so too the Edwardians can be seen to have anticipated many issues and debates of the present day, from coalition governments to trade unions, immigration acts to women’s rights.



Beyond the Garden Party: Rethinking Edwardian Culture

12th – 13th April 2013


It must have seemed like a long garden party on a golden afternoon – to those who were inside the garden. But a great deal that was important was going on outside the garden: it was out there that the twentieth-century world was being made. Nostalgia is a pleasing emotion, but it is also a simplifying one; to think of Edwardian England as a peaceful, opulent world before the flood is to misread the age and to misunderstand the changes that were dramatized by the First World War (Samuel Hynes, The Edwardian Turn of Mind).

More than forty years since Samuel Hynes wrote these words, many accounts and representations of Edwardian England still invoke the image of the garden party. Building on recent critical reappraisals, such as The Edwardian Sense (Yale 2010), and coinciding with the major Edwardian exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art, this interdisciplinary conference sought to examine this notion, and to explore the alternatives. Was there such a thing as a distinct Edwardian culture; if so, what were the forces behind it?

This two-day conference was held at the University of Durham (Friday 12th April) and the University of York (Saturday 13th April), and featured a series of papers and panel discussions on subjects ranging from railway posters to chivalric costumes, censorship to science fiction, and spiritualism to neo-Edwardian films. Our keynote speakers were Dr. Ysanne Holt (Northumbria) and Dr. Simon J. James (Durham).

Conference Booklet (containing schedule and abstracts): ECNconferencebooklet

Conference Introduction

‘Beyond the Garden Party: Rethinking Edwardian Culture’ was generously supported by the Centre for Modern Studies and the Humanities Research Centre (University of York), and Event Durham (University of Durham).

3 responses to “Events

  1. Pingback: Beyond the Garden Party: Re-thinking Edwardian Culture | READ | Research in English at Durham

  2. Pingback: Beyond the Garden Party: Rethinking Edwardian Culture Registration now open! | The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduate Pages

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