VSAO Conference 2024

The 56th Annual VSAO Conference will take place on April 27, 2024, at Glendon College, York University. The topic for this year’s conference is: “The Victorian World [as] a Space of Invention”: Returns to and Revisions of the Nineteenth-Century Past. The full Call for Papers is listed below. Please consider submitting a proposal!

“The Victorian World [as] a Space of Invention”:

Returns to and Revisions of the Nineteenth-Century Past

This year’s conference proposes to interpret the Victorian world as a space of invention, one that continues to offer opportunities for innovation and transformation for nineteenth-century creators and creators that followed.

Nineteenth-century writers, artists, and thinkers returned to past figures, narratives, and forms to define themselves in their contemporary moment and sometimes to reform their own disciplines during the Victorian period. As such, the past frequently offered a lens through which artists and creators could look at and critique their present moment. In Romola, for instance, George Eliot provides a detailed study of Florentine life during the Italian Renaissance, one that shared parallels with the philosophical, religious, and social turbulence of Victorian England. Likewise, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites worshipped the abundance of detail typical of Quattrocento Italian art in the development of a new aesthetic that openly flouted the conventions of the Royal Academy of Art.

This tendency to look to the past to define one’s self and one’s aesthetic continues, while providing some insight into more contemporary concerns. Twentieth- and twenty-first-century creators continue to return to the nineteenth century and to particular Victorian art forms and narratives to reinvent, reform, or remediate them. A glance at a list of modernist and contemporary music, art, books, films, or television series confirms that a preoccupation with Victorian narratives is ubiquitous across media.

If, as Kate Mitchell suggests, “the Victorians continue to have meaning for us today because we continue to grant them meaning,” some of the questions that this conference looks to answer will include: What is it about Victorian source texts that preoccupy modern and contemporary adaptors? How is a Victorian aesthetic remediated in and by the adapted text(s)? What insights do these remediations and adaptations provide about contemporary preoccupations that are in turn projected onto the Victorians? VSAO invites proposals for papers on Victorian adaptations and their relationship with the arts and with daily life.

Papers might consider topics including, but not limited to:

  • The act/art of revision, return, and/or reform
  • Art and appropriation
  • Victorian medievalism and a fascination with the Renaissance
  • Return narratives; textual and aesthetic returns to the nineteenth century
  • Victorianism, Neo-Victorianism, and 21st-century Revisions of the Victorian
  • Reframing and reinterpreting (the) Victorians
  • Art as adaptation
  • Intertextuality and parody
  • Victorian invention and/or reinvention
  • Transposing the Victorians across time, space, and genre
  • Gender, Adaptation, and Postfeminism
  • Media Afterlives of the Victorians
  • Adaptation and Evolution
  • Inventors and authors, artists, or musicians

The one-day conference will be held on Saturday 27 April 2024, at Glendon College, York University.

Please send a 300-word proposal and 50-word bio (as MS Word documents) by 15 January 2024, to Alison Halsall,