Keynote: ‘Excluding the Maternal Body in Victorian Popular Literature’: Jess Cox (Brunel University London)
Reading Group: ‘Against the Grain: Reparative Readings for Victorian Popular Fiction’: Hosted by Jesse Erikson (University of Delaware)
Training Session: ‘Doing Things Digitally: An Introduction to Digital Resources and Text Mining Methods’: Hosted by Emily Bell (University of Leeds)
Call for Papers
The Victorian Popular Fiction Association is dedicated to fostering interest in understudied popular writers, literary genres and other cultural forms, and to facilitating the production of publishable research and academic collaborations amongst scholars of the popular.
Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following title:
The Edwardian era is often romanticised as a tranquil period of garden parties and golden afternoons in which everyone knew their place and nobody questioned the order of things. The reality, however, was quite different. The years between 1901 and 1914 were a highly turbulent period of intense social conflict marked by a heightened awareness of class consciousness, inequality and poverty. The increasing mobilisation of the lower classes and women was often countered with violent means while anybody considered the ‘other’ – immigrants, lunatics, the poor, homosexuals – became the target of widespread discrimination. For many of these groups, the only way to fight back was through writing, which they used to voice resistance and contest traditional power structures.
Rebellious Writing: Contesting Marginalisation in Edwardian Britain brings together the work of scholars across the world to explore the ordinary writing of marginalised groups in Edwardian Britain (1901–14) and how it could be used to carry out acts of creative disobedience that challenged the inequalities and injustices of early twentieth-century society. In recent years, ordinary writing – ubiquitous writing that is part of everyday life, yet is often invisible or transitory in the sense of discardable – has been explored predominantly within two research traditions: New Literacy Studies and ‘New’ History from Below. Although these two traditions have overlapping aims and share similarities in terms of their ethnographic and ethnohistorical methodologies, there has been little interconnection between them. This volume aims to open up a dialogue between New Literacy Studies and ‘New’ History from Below by presenting twelve chapters that are united in their focus on ordinary writing used by disenfranchised Edwardians, yet ground themselves in a range of disciplines, methodologies and theoretical concepts from history, linguistics and literature to politics, cultural studies and art. Through an exploration of such material artefacts as postcards, diary entries, pamphlets and book inscriptions, Rebellious Writing will unearth voices that have been silent throughout history, transmitting new narratives on such important issues as suffragism, Irish nationalism, the labour movement and pauper insanity.
As visitors will have noticed, the Edwardian Culture Network has been very quiet over the last few months. This is partly due to the fact that the founders of the network have been very busy, and it has been difficult to organise events, let alone keep the website updated. We have also been considering how best to take the network forward over the next few years.
These discussions are ongoing, and we thank you all for your patience. We very much hope to be able to host a conference next year. In the meantime, we may be making changes to the website. Do e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Although he died in 1898, and has come to symbolise the 1890s in general, the artist Aubrey Beardsley (subject of a current exhibition at Tate Britain) deserves to be seen as an honorary Edwardian. His influence, after all, extended far beyond his lifetime, and many audiences will have encountered him for the first time in books and exhibitions produced in the 1900s. The question of whether the ‘decadence’ of the 1890s extended into the 1900s, and how it manifested itself, remains a very interesting one.
In the meantime, this month has also seen the launch of the Aubrey Beardsley Society and their excellent Aubrey Beardsley website. The Society’s aims, in its own words, are ‘to bring together emerging Beardsley scholars and long-time admirers, artists and collectors, students and academics who are shaping the field of Beardsley studies – in 2020 and beyond. Cultivating new talent in this field is the Society’s privilege and responsibility’. You can join the Society here.
The website also has a great library, and a wonderful blog
Finally (as if this wasn’t enough): ‘to mark the foundation of the Society, the Emerging Beardsley Scholar Prize will be awarded for the best short essay on any aspect of Beardsley’s work, life, and reception. The Society aims to encourage new work that is intellectually adventurous and stylistically accomplished and seeks submissions that highlight Beardsley’s relevance today. Postgraduate and early career researchers who have not yet held permanent academic posts are invited to participate. The author of the winning essay will be awarded £500 while two runners-up will receive £100 each. For further details, please consult Call for Submissions.’
Prize Books and Politics: Rethinking Working-Class Life in Edwardian Britain
Digital Exhibition Launch – March 5th 2020
At the beginning of the Edwardian era (1901-1914), the British working classes, who represented 75% of the country’s total population, were one of the most literate and politically active in the world.
This was the result of more than twenty years of free and compulsory education, as well as the development of the labour movement, characterised by widespread trade unionism and socialism.
Book inscriptions offer a unique opportunity to explore the lives of working-class Edwardians, standing as important first-hand evidence of their reading habits, social circles, jobs, hobbies and political and religious beliefs. While some provide the formative voices of future Labour MPs or trade union leaders, most capture the voices of forgotten ‘everyday’ Edwardians who toiled as servants, seamstresses and miners.
Prize Books and Politics is a new digital project that brings to life many of these untold stories, encouraging fresh understandings of working-class life in Edwardian Britain.
The account can be followed on Instagram @prizebooksandpolitics and on Twitter @prizebook
Britain Afraid: Imperial Insecurities and National Fears, 1798-1945
Liverpool John Moores University
11-12 June 2020
Keynote Speaker: Professor Kim Wagner (Queen Mary, UCL)
LJMU History, in partnership with the Invasion Network, invites papers discussing the interplay between cultures of anxiety and fears in British national and imperial life, for presentation and discussion at a two-day conference at Liverpool John Moores University, 11-12 June 2020.
The study of imperial anxieties, fears of radicalism and invasion scares in Britain has long fascinated scholars, producing a rich corpus of material on late Victorian and pre-1914 panics, in particular those connected to espionage, terrorist attacks and the rise of rival powers. This conference seeks to expand the discourse on British anxieties outwards chronologically. In doing so, we aim to identify continuities and fractures in beliefs and fears from the period of the empire-shaking Irish Rebellion of 1798 through to the end of the Second World War. Continue reading →
Fig 1 Charles John Holmes, The Red Ruin, Lucerne, 1906, 46 x 81, Private Collection
Samuel Shaw is right to remind us of the neglected Edwardian and inter-war landscape painter, Charles John Holmes. As a clever artist occupying panjandrum positions in the art world his work was arguably hidden in plain sight. Rediscovering his pictures is a bit like finding, years from now, that Sir Nicholas Serota had been quietly exhibiting all along in the New English Art Club.
Holmes began to show at the NEAC in 1900 and continued every year thereafter until his death in 1936. In the mid-eighteen-nineties he was ‘discovered’ by Charles Ricketts and Charles Haslewood Shannon, a ‘power couple’ in the art world who published his early essays in the little magazines with which they were associated. Short books followed on Hokusai (1899) and Constable (1902), with a perceptive account of contemporary collecting (1903). Continue reading →
Kipling and John Bull, Westminster Gazette, 30 July 1900
17-18 April 2020
City, University of London
Supported by the Kipling Society
Returning to the imperial metropolis as a young writer recently graduated from his apprenticeship on Indian newspapers, Rudyard Kipling began to consolidate his literary career in London as a late Victorian man of letters. As he wrote his verses and stories, he did so ‘with a daily paper under my right elbow’, wielding this symbol of journalism as a talisman of his writerly authority. And understandably so; Kipling owed much to his years on the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette and the Allahabad Pioneer, where he had documented the daily routines, social stratifications, and political tensions of colonial India under the rule of the Raj. His experience as a journalist and colonial correspondent honed his distinctive, concise prose style, and it is this pithiness that accounts for his enduring legacy in the twenty-first century as a writer often in support of – but also sometimes critical of – first British and then US Empires. Continue reading →
The Threatened Child in Nineteenth-Century Popular Fiction and Culture
Friday, 20th September 2019
Humanities Institute, University College Dublin
Keynote Speaker: Professor Kathryn Hughes (University of East Anglia)
Walking Tour: Victorian Gothic Dublin, followed by dinner
VPFJ Special Issue: Following the Study Day, we will be inviting delegates to submit journal articles based on their respective papers for publication in a special issue of the VPFA journal, Victorian Popular Fictions.
Owing to rapid population growth coupled with high mortality rates, nineteenth-century Britain was a young society, with those under fourteen constituting from between a third to forty percent of the population. While the romantic conception of childhood as an ideal, innocent state gained widespread acceptance during the nineteenth century, at the same time the realities of child neglect, exploitation, physical and sexual abuse were well known. Across the century, legislation was enacted to address child maltreatment – improving working conditions, ensuring primary education, raising the age of consent for girls, and producing the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act in 1889. But the lived reality for many children remained grim and the resulting social issues were frequently taken up in the era’s popular fiction and culture. Continue reading →
Convenors: Sasha Rasmussen (St Hilda’s), Rhiannon Easterbrook (Women in the Humanities Post-doctoral Writing Fellow) and Mara Gold (St Hilda’s).
Even as women asserted their presence in universities and the new department stores that proliferated to cater to their desires, at the turn of the century many still imagined feminine space in traditional archetypes: the tranquillity of the home, or the exoticism of the harem. To speak of women’s spaces during the Belle Epoque, then, calls forth a host of simultaneous possibilities, ranging from the archaic to the shockingly modern, from the sensual to the cerebral. In public or in private, this conference seeks to examine the relationships between women, space, pleasure, and desire. We invite submissions that explore how different forms of women’s space competed and co-existed around the world at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, and how these represented, structured or suppressed women’s experiences of desire and pleasure.
Topics could include, but are naturally not limited to: