Fall Evening Lecture 2022


VSAO Fall Evening Lecture 2022

You are warmly invited to join us for this year’s Fall Evening Lecture, Thursday 24 November 2022, at 6:30 PM in Sidney Smith Hall 2110, University of Toronto

Kathryn Davies (University of York, UK)

The legacy of Sacred and Legendary Art: Anna Jameson’s revolutionary guide to Christian iconography

Anna Brownell (Murphy) Jameson, undated, photograph from an engraving from the John Ross Robertson Collection (JRR 983). Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Canada.

Kathryn Davies is an AHRC (UKRI)-funded Art History PhD student at University of York, UK. Her research interests lie in Medievalism, Gothic Revival art and architecture, and the networks and modes of knowledge exchange that supported these cultural and artistic developments in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Davies’s PhD research focuses on the iconographic writings of Anna Brownell Jameson (1794-1860). Her series on Christian art had phenomenally broad appeal for over 80 years — it was read by aspiring middle-classes, artists, intellectuals and religious reformers alike — but Jameson has been excluded in all major studies of iconographers and art historians to date, and has yet to be adequately recognised as a key influence on public taste and understanding of the medieval. Davies aims to analyse and evidence her critical place within the Victorian Gothic Revival more broadly, and to demonstrate her pivotal role in the development of the modern disciplines of art history and iconography.

Spring 2023 Conference CFP


Victorian Experiments: Science, Technology, and Art

The nineteenth century saw the invention of the steam locomotive, the internal combustion engine, the first mechanical computer, the electric telegraph, practical photography, the telephone, the phonograph, the lightbulb, the bicycle, the zipper, and the x-ray, to name just a few technological innovations. As Victorian scientists and engineers changed life for most people, writers, musicians, and artists responded in multitudinous ways. The experimental model began to shape both the creation and consumption of art and literature. How did inventions like the telegraph and the telephone affect communication? How were communities altered by steam travel and the coming of early automobiles? What were the effects of photography and the development of moving pictures on the culture and social formation of Victoria’s Britain and its imperial holdings? VSAO invites proposals for papers on Victorian science and technology and their relationship with the arts and with daily life.

Papers might consider topics including, but not limited to:

  • Domestic life changes through technology
  • Servants and technology
  • Political cartoons, photographs, paintings, or other visual representations of technology
  • Sound reproduction, art, and literature
  • Gender, science, and technology
  • Photography and the fine arts
  • Steam travel and art
  • Leisure time and technology
  • Metaphors of technology and/or science
  • Spectacle and science or technology
  • Dangers of new technology
  • Embracing of or resistance to science and new technologies
  • Inventors and authors, artists, or musicians
  • Monarchy, science, technology
  • Literary or artistic movements related to science and technology
  • Fantasy, speculative fiction, and technology
  • Book production and technology
  • Empire and science and technology
  • Marketplaces and science and technology
  • Study of science and technology in schools, colleges, universities
  • Technological manuals and/or scientific texts

The one-day conference will be held on Saturday 29 April 2023, at Glendon College, York University.

Please send a 300-word proposal and 50-word bio (as MS Word documents) by 15 January 2023, to Jo Devereux: jdevereu@uwo.ca 

Spring 2022 Conference: Spaces of Confinement, Correction, and Spectacle


 Saturday 30 April 2022


10:30am-12:15pm     Morning Session   

Meghan Burry, “Confining the Fallen Woman: The Magdalen Hospitals, 1758-1890”

Melanie Byron, “‘Still the Jago rats bred’: Degenerative Eugenics in A Child of the Jago’s Slums” 

Virginia Lynn Grimaldi, “”The London Foundling Hospital: Challenging Fiscal-Military State Interpretations of Charity and Philanthropy”

12:30-1:40pm         Lunch Break                                                            

1:50-2:50pm           Keynote Address I  

Lesley Higgins, “Contrition, Correction—and ‘Perversion’?: the Victorian Confessional Revealed” 

3:00-4:00pm           Keynote Address II  

 Janice Schroeder, “Carceral Talk and Vocal Sound in the Victorian Prison”


VSAO Spring 2022 Conference: Spaces of Confinement, Correction, and Spectacle  


During the Victorian period, the idea of space underwent radical change, from the widening expansion of empire to the narrowing confines of the prison cell. While the massive structure of Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851 both enclosed and opened up the world to all classes of visitors, the restrictive, squalid spaces of “back-to-backs” in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester confined the working poor to the barest minimum of living spaces. Prisons like Pentonville kept the prisoners in miniscule cells, in solitary confinement, and under silence orders. In the world of entertainment, humans and animals were frequently confined and displayed, for example, in circuses, freak shows, and museums such as the Piccadilly Hall, all of which exploited the public appetite for sensation and spectacle.    

The VSAO warmly invites proposals for papers on confinement, correction, and spectacle. Papers might include but are not confined to:  

  • Prisons, asylums, and other spaces of correction  
  • Workhouses   
  • Private hospitals and sanitoria  
  • Circuses, sideshows, and freak shows  
  • Anatomical and physiological museums  
  • Zoos, zoological gardens, and public aquariums  
  • Exhibitions, wax museums  

The one-day conference will be held on Saturday 30 April 2022, at Glendon College, York University.

Please send a 300-word proposal and 50-word bio (as MS Word documents) by 28 February 2022, to Jo Devereux: jdevereu@uwo.ca 

May 2021 Newsletter


Greetings fellow Victorianists!

I hope you are well wherever you are and getting a chance to enjoy the merry month of May, even in this difficult time. The VSAO has been active since the start of 2021.

In January, we held our first ever online VSAO Winter Evening Lecture. Simon Grennan, Roger Sabin, and Julian Waite presented a wonderful talk on the pioneering Victorian cartoonist Marie Duval. The talk, held as a Zoom meeting, was very well attended, and we had a terrific discussion after Simon, Roger, and Julian’s presentation. Be sure to get a copy of their newest book, Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian Cartoonist (Manchester University Press, 2020): https://manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781526133540/marie-duval/

As well, you can check out The Marie Duval Archive, a free image archive of Duval’s known work, created by Simon, Roger, and Julian, at www.marieduval.org.

In April, our Annual Spring Conference was held as a webinar, owing to continuing COVID restrictions. The conference this year, “Light in Dark Places: Victorian Animals and Human Interventions,” was held via Zoom, and featured four fabulous papers: Sandy Burnley (Michigan State University), “And Say the Animal Responded? Lewis Carroll’s Unsympathetic Exchanges”; Joanna Holliday (York University), “Fleecing the Flocks for Profit and Patriotism”; Matthew Rowlinson (Western University), “Towards a Theory of Species-Lyric: Darwin, Swinburne, Biopolitics”; and Asha Hornsby (Queen Mary University and UCL), “The Pen and the Scalpel: Representations of Painful Vivisection in Victorian Britain.” The papers encompassed a wide diversity of approaches and topics, even within the rubric of Victorian animal studies, and a lively discussion during the virtual sherry hour followed the presentations.

Our upcoming events include the two joint VSAO ACCUTE “Eco-Victorian” panels at Congress 2021, hosted by the University of Alberta this year. The panels will take place online on May 31st at 9 am Mountain Time (11 am ET) and 11 am Mountain Time (1 pm ET) Please see details below:


Chairs: Emily Rothwell, Carleton University, and Lin Young, Queen’s University


Marielle Lippmann, LARCA, University of Paris, “Terraforming England: Richard Jefferies’s Shifting Landscapes”

Alyce Soulodre, Queen’s University, “‘A land of swamps and evil things and dead old shadows’: Menacing Mires and Victorian Masculinity in H. Rider Haggard’s She and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles

Molly Dawe, University of Toronto, “Folklore, Myth, and Ecological Forgetting in George Eliot’s Adam Bede

Jeffrey Swim, Western University, “Victorian Eco-Pagan Legacies: Richard Jefferies’ After London and the Future Swamp of Modernity”


Chairs: Emily Rothwell, Carleton University, and Lin Young, Queen’s University


Michelle Elleray, University of Guelph, “‘Whirling through North and South’: Faith in Victorian Atmospheric Science”

Nahmi Lee and Thomas Stuart, Western University, “Pictures and Fancies: Lizzie Hexam and the Thames’s Affective Flow”

Joanna Holliday, York University, “Tides and Transformations: The Narrative Ecology of the River in News from Nowhere by William Morris.”

The panels are open to members of ACCUTE only. For information on ACCUTE, please go to https://accute.ca/

To register for the conference, please visit https://congress2021.ca/about

Spring 2021 Webinar


 Light in Dark Places: Victorian Animals and Human Interventions 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

2:30-4PM, followed by virtual sherry hour, from 4-5:30PM


Sandy Burnley
And Say the Animals Responded? Lewis Carroll’s Unsympathetic Exchanges

Joanna Holliday
Fleecing the Flocks for Profit and Patriotism

Matthew Rowlinson
Towards a Theory of Species-Lyric: Darwin, Swinburne, Biopolitics

Asha Hornsby
The Pen and the Scalpel: Representations of Painful Vivisection in Victorian Britain

For more information and to join, please contact Jo Devereux: jdevereu@uwo.ca

Winter Lecture 2021


Happy New Year Victorianists!

The VSAO is delighted to announce our upcoming Winter Lecture 2021, to be held via Zoom, Friday 29 January 2021, at 1 PM Ontario time.

Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian Cartoonist

Dr Simon Grennan

Professor Roger Sabin

Dr Julian Waite

This lecture and discussion introduces the work of Marie Duval (Isabella Tessier, UK, 1847–90), one of the most unusual, pioneering and visionary cartoonists of the nineteenth century.

Duval’s cartoons, strips and illustrations revolutionised print comedy. Her London characters became a mainstay of Judy magazine, a rival to Punch, and introduced its middle-class readers to a lower-class milieu – domestic servants who get the better of their masters, street urchins who terrorise the elderly, clowns who are miserably unfunny. The most famous character was Ally Sloper, a boozy ne-er do well, always in trouble with the police, the landlord, and his wife – developed by Duval into nothing less than a national hero.

Simon, Roger and Julian will discuss key themes of Duval’s vision and production, relative to wider historic, social, cultural and economic environments. They identify her as an exemplary radical practitioner, especially significant for importing ideas from the stage to the page, and for confounding gender expectations. She emerges as a key figure in the new congruence between performance, illustration, narrative drawing and novels.

The lecture also outlines a journey of rediscovery, progressing from an unprecedented range of primary sources and bringing together the fields of Comics Studies, Theatre Studies, Comedy Studies, Periodical Studies and Women’s Studies. It aims to restore the maverick Duval to her rightful place in history.

The Marie Duval Archive, a free image archive of Duval’s known work, has also been created by Simon, Roger and Julian, at www.marieduval.org

Simon Grennan is Leading Research Fellow at the University of Chester

Roger Sabin is Professor of Popular Culture at the University of the Arts London

Julian Waite is an independent scholar and former Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts and Programme Leader MA Drama at the University of Chester


1. Marie Duval ‘Frontispiece’ from Judy, or The London Serio-comic Journal Volume 18, 1875

2. Marie Duval ‘Dramatic Criticism 1883’ from Judy, or The London Serio-comic Journal Volume 32, page 27, 1883

For information on how to join the meeting, contact Jo Devereux: jdevereu@uwo.ca

Fall 2020 Newsletter


I hope you are all well in these difficult times. Like so many other associations, the VSAO has had to postpone or alter planned events, including our annual spring conference for this year. Optimistic Victorianists all, we hope to be able to hold the conference in April 2021 at Glendon College. We think that the conference theme, “Victorian Animals and Human Interventions,” will be just as relevant in 2021—perhaps even more!—than in 2020.

During registration for the spring 2021 conference, members will be able to renew their membership and new members to join the association via Eventbrite. Please stay tuned for more information!

The fall 2020 evening lecture will be moving to an online format. This year, it will be long-time member Martin Danahay, who will be talking about “Arts and Crafts as a Brand.” His lecture had been planned for March and since it had to be cancelled then, we are pleased to be able to present the lecture via Zoom on Thursday, November 19th, at 7 PM. More information on how to join the meeting will be coming soon.

Thank you as always to the brilliant and kind VSAO executive for all their help and support. I am so honoured to be part of this great association and look forward to some wonderful events in the coming months.

All the very best,
Jo Devereux
Assistant Professor, Department of English and Writing Studies, Western University
President, Victorian Studies Association of Ontario

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?

Image result for morris and company"


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 (l.young@queensu.ca& Emily Rothwell (ejrothwell@gmail.com) by 5 February 2020.