August Video conference on Teaching


Hello VSAO members,
I hope all of you are well. Long-time member, Prof. Martin Danahay, has sent the following invitation to all members for a terrific online event this August.
Here is his message:
I will be hosting a videoconference workshop on teaching Victorian literature and culture online so that we can share ideas and resources and provide mutual support as we face Fall 2020 remote teaching. I have created a very simple calendar with dates from Monday August 17th to Friday August 21st 7:00 – 9:00 pm for this meeting. I’ve tried to pick some dates where our minds will be focused on teaching but when we also still have time to make changes to our syllabi. If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please follow these steps:
1. Go to
Simply click on the dates/time that work for you
2. Email me a copy of your syllabus; complete or incomplete syllabi are welcome. I see this as a workshop in which we can discuss your options if you still have gaps in your syllabus.
3. I have created a simple wiki at
and have posted my syllabus for ENGL3P33 Victorian Literature. I will add syllabi to the wiki as I receive them from you via email.
4. I will email a link for the videoconference 24 hours before the meeting.
If these dates don’t work for a large number of people I may change them, but I had to start somewhere and so chose the week of August 17th – 21st at random. Normally many people might be traveling during August, but of course these are not normal times which is why I am hosting this discussion in the first place.

Winter Evening Lecture 2020


Please save the date for our winter VSAO Evening Lecture! We are so pleased that long-time VSAO member Professor Martin Danahay (Brock University) will be speaking about “Arts and Crafts as a Brand” on Thursday 12 March 2020, 6:30 pm. Room 1210, Bahen Centre, University of Toronto.


Here is the abstract for his upcoming talk:


Arts and Crafts designs, especially prints designed by William Morris, have been adopted by contemporary companies, most notable by H & M in their “Morris & Co x H& M” line of clothing. The H & M web site refers to the “Arts and Crafts brand” which raises the question whether this term can legitimately be applied to the original nineteenth-century movement. Was Arts and Crafts a “brand”? If so, how does Morris’s political agenda coincide or conflict with the idea of a “brand”? And what happens to the political aspects of Arts and Crafts when original Morris designs are repurposed as shirts? Finally, is there an indissoluble connection between and arts and crafts design and politics?

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CFP: Victorian Animals

Please find below details of a call for papers for the upcoming Victorian Studies Association of Ontario conference,

“Light in Dark Places: Victorian Animals and Human Interventions,” to be held at Glendon College, Toronto, 25 April 2020.

Keynote Speakers:

Jody Berland, York University

Susan Hamilton, University of Alberta


From Queen Victoria’s beloved dachshund, Dash, to Lewis Carroll’s furry feline, Dinah, pets were an integral part of the Victorian domestic world, while thousands of working animals laboured outside the home in transportation, farming, mining, and other industries. As the century went on, the rise in animal welfare agencies and the anti-vivisection movement focused the public’s attention on the exploitation of and cruelty to animals. Imperialist and colonialist big game hunters killed hundreds of animals for trophies to display back home in Britain. A burgeoning reading public reacted in various ways to Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and Descent of Man, both of which suggested deep connections between humans and other species. As a result, there was a shift in Victorians’ perceptions of animals and their relationship(s) to human beings. Ever since Harriet Ritvo’s The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in Victorian England (1989), scholars have increasingly looked at questions surrounding animal rights, the consumption and representation of animals, and changing attitudes towards animals in the nineteenth century.

We welcome papers that explore Victorians and the biological creatures that inhabited their historical moment. How did Victorians understand and represent animals in popular culture and in various media, including the fine arts, literature, advertising, and political cartoons? What effects might we trace in the use of animals for entertainment: on the stage, in zoos and circuses, and on the street? How did Victorians consume animals and animal products for food, fashion, and housewares? What role did animals play in constructing both British colonialist and imperialist agendas?


Possible themes might include but are not limited to:


  • fictional representations of animals
  • anthropomorphism
  • evolutionary, post-humanist, and Anthropocene theories and studies
  • print culture and animals, illustrations, cartoons, poetry
  • consumption of animal and animal products
  • animals in visual culture, paintings, sculpture, advertising
  • children’s literature and animals
  • anti-vivisection
  • photography and animals
  • taxidermy
  • animals and natural history museums and museum studies
  • zoos, circuses, and menageries
  • hunts and hunting cultural histories
  • animals in sport
  • anatomical studies
  • capitalism, empire, and animal labour
  • animals and colonialist and imperialist histories and representations
  • medical and scientific discourses involving animals
  • veterinary practice
  • animal products in the fashion industry
  • endangered and extinct animals of the era


Please send an email attachment of your 300-to-400-word paper proposal, and 100-word biographical statement to: Lin Young ( Emily Rothwell ( by 5 February 2020.


CFP: VSAO-Sponsored ACCUTE Joint Session–“Eco-Victorians: Water, Land, and the World” for Congress 2020

CFP: VSAO-Sponsored ACCUTE Joint Session–“Eco-Victorians: Water, Land, and the World”–for the Humanities Congress at the University of Western Ontario, May 30th-June 5th, 2020.
From Charles Dickens’s ecopoetical rivers, to the wondrous route across the sea to Treasure Island, the Victorian era was resplendent with images of water, seafaring, and global travel. At the same time, as J.M.W. Turner’s visceral abolitionist painting Slave Ship attests, society was literally kept afloat by the oceanic trade routes which forcibly moved both human (slaves) and inhuman cargo (colonized resources) throughout what Paul Gilroy has famously coined “the Black Atlantic.” The word “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, ushering in the formal study of diverse ecosystems, terrain sites and watery worlds which were then being transformed by industrial capitalism and imperialism. Indeed, Victorians saw the power of “the Anthropocene” unleashed during that grave epoch in which the human species became, and has remained, the dominant influence on our planet’s climate and environment.

This panel invites papers that examine the way in which water, land, and the ecological world connecting them was constructed in this era.

Possible themes might include but are not limited to:

  • representations of seas, landscapes, and ecosystems
  • eco-writing, eco-criticism, print culture, illustration
  • tourism, parks, maritime histories, leisure activities
  • decolonial representations, anthropocene studies, global Victorian literatures
  • histories of imperialism, colonization, migration, diasporic communities and slavery
  • genre fiction and ecologies
  • spatial histories, environmental architecture in urban, rural, domestic and cultural spaces

Please send an email attachment of your 300-to-500-word paper proposal, without personal identifying marks, and the 2020 Proposal Info Sheet available on the ACCUTE website to Emily Rothwell and Lin Young by November 15, 2019:

ACCUTE 2020 The following CFPs are for panels held at the ACCUTE conference that are jointly sponsored by ACCUTE and another organization. Note: You must be a member in good standing, either of ACCUTE or of the co-sponsoring organization, to present on a joint panel. However, only ACCUTE …
Posted in CFP

September 2017 Newsletter

September 2017 Newsletter

  1. President’s Message
  2. VSAO-ACCUTE Panel
  3. New Titles by VSAO Members
  1. President’s Message

A warm welcome to new and returning members of the Victorian Studies Association of Ontario. The Association celebrated its 50th year in grand style throughout 2017, including a successful April conference “New Intimacies: Changing Interactions in the Victorian World” and two anniversary-themed panels at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences: “Many Happy Returns: The Anniversary in Victorian Britain” and a roundtable on “The Future of Interdisciplinary Victorian Studies.” Many thanks to outgoing VSAO President Dr. Tina Choi, for her impeccable leadership and for her efforts in organizing special events for the anniversary year.

As the VSAO enters its sixth decade, we hope to continue the Association’s work promoting research in Victorian Studies across a range of disciplines. The upcoming annual conference in April 2018 will have an interdisciplinary focus, featuring keynote addresses by Dr. Alison Syme (University of Toronto), author of A Touch of Blossom: The Queer Flora of Fin-de-Siècle Art (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), who will speak on her current research on Edward Burne-Jones, and Dr. Deborah Lutz (Morton Endowed Chair, University of Louisville, KY), author of The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects (W.W. Norton, 2015) and Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP, 2015). Please watch for the upcoming CFP for the morning panel for the conference and read the sample reviews and descriptions of their work by clicking on the embedded links!

Please also consider sharing with the VSAO Executive your thoughts on bringing new members into the Association and encouraging graduate student membership and participation in the VSAO. Please contact me personally or any member of the Executive.

Here’s to a productive and stimulating year!

Suzanne Bailey

President, Victorian Studies Association of Ontario
Professor, Department of English Literature, Trent University
Director, English MA “Public Texts” program, Trent University
Chair, Dept. of Gender and Women’s Studies, Trent University



The VSAO will be sponsoring a panel at the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) at the May 2018 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Regina. Please view the call-for-proposals below.

VSAO-Sponsored ACCUTE Joint Session, “Victorian Spaces: Real and Imagined”

The Victorian Studies Association of Ontario (VSAO) and the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) invite papers for a jointly sponsored session on Victorian Spaces: Real and Imagined. From haunted attics, to enchanted flower beds, to housing reform, Victorians were deeply preoccupied with new conceptions of space. Their penchant for exploring the shifting role of the production of space can be seen as deriving from historical spatial forms, such as architecture, urban philanthropic projects and social-improvement publications. In another sense, such spatial conceptions can be seen as having been represented culturally, whether through the imagined landscapes of Alice’s wonder-filled garden afternoon, Pip’s navigation of London, or the Pre-Raphaelites’ reconceiving of medievalist spaces as contemporary portals. The Victorian Studies Association of Ontario invites papers that consider the ways in which space was imagined, represented and conceived during this historical moment, exploring the ways in which both real and imagined spaces often converged on a proverbial continuum of representations. Papers might examine how real or physical spaces were manifested, planned and represented by Victorians as they conceived of and interacted with spatial theories and formations in myriad modes and discourses. Others may inquire as to the ways in which the spaces Victorians imagined are potentially seen as cultural representations of their collective affective lives, their utopian forecasts, their escapist dreamscapes and their socio-political and imperial constructions and agendas. Possible themes might include but are not limited to:

  • Social, legal, and/or political histories of space, both urban and rural
  • Spatial theory
  • Genre and space (social reform novels, sentimental fiction, popular press narratives, children’s literature, Romantic painting, utopia/dystopia, etc.)
  • Visual and print culture’s imagined spaces such as traditional visual forms (photography, architecture, painting) and non-traditional visual forms (ephemera, cartography, games, advertising, etc.)
  • Landscapes, gardens, ecocriticism
  • Medical, corporeal and scientific histories
  • Architectural spaces
  • Factories, social reform, cultural geography
  • Supernatural spaces: occultist practices, haunted houses, séance rooms, afterlives
  • Film, video, digital and new media criticism as well as criticism on contemporary visual artists and writers whose historically-minded practices engage with Victorian conceptions of space
  • Spaces of Empire: race, travel, histories, transnational and translocal contexts
  • Interior design histories and design print culture (catalogues, pamphlets, journals, magazines)

[CFP now closed.]


3.  New Titles by VSAO Members

We’re pleased to announce these recent book publications by our members. Congratulations to these authors!

Ablow, Rachel. Victorian Pain. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017.

Science Museums in Transition: Anglo-American Cultures of Display in the 19th Century. Eds. Bernard Lightman and Carin Berkowitz. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.