Spring 2024 Newsletter


In this issue:

  1. President’s Message
  2. ACCUTE Panels of Interest for Victorianists
  3. Membership Reminder


President’s Message

Greetings fellow Victorianists!

My first year as VSAO president has flown by. Special thanks are due to the VSAO Executive members who helped with the transition: Nigel Finch and Taylor Tomko, both from Western, as our two new Members at Large; Brooke Cameron (Queen’s) and Hao Li (University of Toronto) as returning Members at Large; Jo Devereux (Western), as VSAO past president, David Latham (York University), as Treasurer, and Joti Bilkhu (York), as our new VSAO Secretary. Thank you all for your support and your work on this committee.

We have had a wonderful year, celebrating some remarkable accomplishments by members. This past November, Margo Beggs organized a book launch for the collection, Nineteenth-Century Women Illustrators and Cartoonists, edited by Jo Devereux. The evening’s event showcased Jo’s important work on Florence and Adelaide Claxton that is part of this collection, as well as research on Pamela Colman Smith and hand-coloured illustration by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra and Marion Tempest Grant. Margo spoke about her chapter on Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon’s ‘Illustrated Comic Alphabet.’ It was a lively evening, complete with beautiful archival materials that Lorraine brought in for us to enjoy.

Our annual spring conference (our 56th!), held at Glendon College on April 27, 2024, was a great success. We had an invigorating day full of papers that were organized around the central theme: “‘The Victorian World [as] a Space of Invention’: Returns to and Revisions of the Nineteenth-Century Past.” The morning panel featured papers by Marjorie Stone, from Dalhousie University, who spoke about “Aurora Leigh, ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon,’ and Sex Trafficking Debates in the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries.” Rachel Friars, a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of English at Queen’s University, gave a paper that was entitled, “‘No longer any I, only All’: Lesbian Gender Disruption in the Neo-Victorian Novel.” Charles Reeve, Professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Acting Dean of Arts & Science at OCAD University, spoke about “‘My strength, my comfort, my intense delight’: Elizabeth Murray’s Sixteen Years of an Artist’s Life in Morocco, Spain, and the Canary Islands.” Alisha R. Walters, Assistant Professor of 19th Century Literature and Culture at Penn State University, Abington College, delivered a paper about “Histories of Feeling and Empiricism: Inventing Victorian Racial Science.” The papers were all fascinating and showed the many approaches that can be taken when thinking back to the age of Victoria.

After a delicious lunch, we welcomed our first keynote of the day, Dennis Denisoff (of the Department of English, University of Tulsa, and one of our VSAO Past Presidents). Dennis works in environmental humanities and gender/sexuality/queer studies with an emphasis on Victorian and Modernist literature and culture.

Dennis spoke to us about some of his research on the 19th-century development of our modern notion of global environmentalism, in a paper that was entitled “Natural Kinship: Inventing Intimacies in Fin-de-siècle Eco-Writing.” Addressing the works of William Sharp and Michael Field, Dennis proposed that some authors of the Victorian period were not simply nature writers, but were envisioning their literary work as an affectionate act within their relationships throughout their organic ecology. He considered William Sharp’s, Michael Field’s, and contemporary Indigenous poet Tommy Pico’s entanglements with other species as practices of imaginative sympathy.

After the break, Natalie Neill, of the English Department at York University, delivered our second keynote address, ““Gothic (Re)Turns: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Gothic Mash-Up.” Natalie, a specialist in the Gothic, satire and parody, women’s authorship in the Romantic Period, and transmedia adaptation, gave an animated talk that celebrated “the pleasures of re-reading.” The many transmedia adaptations that exist of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights speak to the versioning, sampling, and remixing of canonical Victorian texts in film, novel, and comics formats. We learned about “Frankenfictions” and revisions that circulated in the nineteenth century, throughout the twentieth, and into contemporary times, texts that employ mashup techniques that the Brontës themselves first modeled in their juvenilia and later fiction.

The conference concluded with our much anticipated sherry hour. Participants continued their conversations well after 5pm, as Maria and her wonderful staff cleaned up around us.

Many thanks to Glendon and to Maria Franco and her staff for their support of this event. Thanks are also due to York University’s LA&PS team for their financial assistance.

During the summer months, the executive will be discussing themes and keynote speakers for next year’s annual conference, which will be held on the 26th April 2025 (please save the date!). Suggestions for speakers may be forwarded to the president or to members of the executive.

Until next time,

Alison Halsall


Panels of Interest for Members

at the Upcoming 2024 Congress,

McGill University, June 12-21, 2024

Wednesday, June 12, 2024


“The Coming Universal Wish Not to Live”: Victorians and the Future
– Joint Sponsored with Victorian Studies Association of Ontario (VSAO)

Chairs: Joanna Devereux, Western; Taylor Tomko, Western; Nigel Finch, Western

Erin Akerman, Brock – Nahneebahweequay and Indigenous Futures in the Nineteenth Century

Megan McLennan, Western – “Come hither, maids”: Amy Levy’s “Xantippe” and the Lesbian Continuum”

Amanda Paxton, Toronto Mississauga – Victorian Apocalypticism and the Predatory Mystagogy of Jean Vanier



Romanticism and Evil 1 – Joint Sponsored with North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR)


Chairs: Adam Mohamed, Western; Liam Rockall, Western University

Devin Stroink, Western – Moral Inversion in Romantic Satire

Matthew Rowney, North Carolina at Charlotte – Bone Sugar: Recycling the Dead at Waterloo

Aiman Khan, Aligarh Muslim University – Nature and Heroic Echoes in Prometheus’ Profundity and Childe Harold’s Charms

Rajarshi Banerjee, Western – Deadly Opposites: Begging the Question of Byronic Evil across Cuverian Worlds



Romanticism and Evil 2 – Joint Sponsored with North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR)


Chairs: Adam Mohamed, Western; Liam Rockall, Western

David Sigler, Calgary – Evil as a Form of Rule: Following in Mary Brunton’s Discipline

Sungkyung Cho, Brandeis – A No Longer Necessary Evil: Thomas Love Peacock and the Poet’s Amour-propre

Michelle Faubert, Manitoba – Floating Evil: The Literature of Slave-Ship Surgeons

Thursday, June 13, 2024


“Japa-ing” to Freedom or/and Slavery: Modern Configurations of the Slavery Journey and Narrative


Chairs: Chinelo Ezenwa, Western; Titi Aiyegbusi, Toronto

Belonwu Ezenwa, Western – “Freedom to and from Slavery”: Reflecting on Canada’s Migrant Labour Market through the lens of CBC’s First Person Migrant Stories

Chinelo Ezenwa, Western – My Country/My Slave Hold: Contemporary Nigeria “Master”-Slave Relationships and Transatlantic Slavery

Sheheryar Sheikh, Dalhousie – Goat-Shagged and Bereft: Accounts of Wage-Slavery in the Horrid Middle East


Therefore I Am: AI’s Impacts on Writing, Research, and Pedagogy


Chair: Amanda Paxton, Toronto Mississauga

Emily Cann, Dalhousie – Being in the World of AI: Consciousness, Language, and the Irreplaceability of Non-AI-Supported Writing

Valentina Gaio, Queen’s; Chloe Stewart, Queen’s – The Word in the Place of the Idea: What Generative AI Reveals about the Essay

Amanda Paxton, Toronto Mississauga – AI and Thou: Relationality and Writing in the Age of Chatbots

Bill Kroeger, Toronto – Ghosts or Machines?: AI’s Implications for the Future of Writing in the Humanities



ACCUTE KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Caroline Levine (Cornell)


Studying Literature in the Climate Crisis, or a Tale of Three Pipelines

co-sponsored by RhetCanada, ESAC, and CAPS



MLA Report on English Majors’ Career Preparation and Outcomes


Chair: Neta Gordon, Brock

Jacqueline Jenkins, Calgary Gordon Tapper, La Guardia


Speaking the World into Existence: Language Use in Speculative Fiction 1


Chair: Kate Sheckler, Marianopolis

David Fleming, Marianopolis – Speculative Retrospection: Nature Writing and Human Rewilding in Climate Fiction

Jennifer Komorowski, TMU – Speaking the Apocalypse into Being: Indigenous Language Resurgence and Speculative Fiction

Kate Sheckler, Marianopolis –Ursula K. Le Guin, Consent, and Metaphor: Constructing Ursula K. Le Guin’s Worlds



Speaking the World into Existence: Language Use in Speculative Fiction 2


Chair: Kate Sheckler, Marianopolis

Shamara Peart, Queen’s – Evil, Social Justice, and Communication in Akwaeme Emezi’s Pet

Alexander Morgan, Western – “it wouldn’t be accurate anyway”: Examining the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis through the Critical Poetics of SF Worldbuilding


Is There Anybody in There? The Affective Impact of Generative AI on First-Year Writing Instructors


Chairs: Amanda Paxton, Toronto; Phoebe Kang, Toronto

Concetta Principe, Trent – Paranoia or Enjoyment: Hunting for Generative AI in Students’ Papers

Monique Kampherm, Toronto Mississauga – (Dis)Inviting AI into our Writing Classrooms Eric Lehman, Trent – Precarious Writing / Precarious Labour – The Affect of AI

Generated Writing on Part-Time Academic Instructors



BRONF 046 Chair: TBA

Kristen Smith, York – (Re)Generating Education: Practical Methods for Harnessing the Power of GenAI for Optimal Course Planning

Patricia Cove, Dalhousie – Material Culture in a Literary Studies Classroom: Experimenting with a “Maker Project” for STEM Students

Sarah Banting, Mount Royal – Reading the MLA Teaching Volumes: What They Reveal about What Literary Studies Teaches

Tina Trigg, King’s – Trauma-Informed Classrooms of Transgression: Reading about Genocide


Friday, June 14, 2024


On College: Committee for Professional Concerns – Board Sponsored Panel

Chairs: Neta Gordon, Brock; Mark Kaethler, Medicine Hat

Ryan Cox, Keyano
Laura Davis, Red Deer David Fleming, Marianopolis Kate Sheckler, Marianopolis Julie Warkentin, Sheridan


Discourses of Science

BRONF 046 Chair: TBA

Victoria Abboud, Windsor – Erupting Faith: Lyell’s Principles of Geology and Theological Intervention

Shawn Hamm, MacEwan – Electricity, Elixirs, and Consequence; or, Unpacking the Fear of Science

Carolyn Eckert, Waterloo – Punctuated Ethos: Addressing Trust, Credibility and Expertise in Times of Crisis





The Poem Is a Language-Place Where Thinking Trembles Vibrates

co-sponsored with ACQL and CCLA


Saturday, June 15, 2024


Sustaining the Past, Predicting the Future – North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA)


Chair: Jason Camlot, Concordia University

Brooke Cameron, Queen’s; Michaela Wipond, Queen’s – “I Always Speak to Dogs and Cats”: An ‘UnArchive’ of Victorian Animal Rights Literature for Children

Barbara Leckie, Carleton – Climate Comma: Between the Victorian Past and the Victorian Future

Rachelle Stinson, York – A Beleaguered Fortress: The Idea of a Women’s University


Spring is Membership Renewal Time!

As VSAO memberships run from 1 May to April 30, it is time to renew your membership dues.  Please see the membership renewal form below.


Membership is $15 for students and sessionals, and $25 for all others. Membership includes a reduced registration fee for the spring conference, notice for local meetings, voting privileges, and participation at the annual business meeting. Please mail a hard copy of this form with a cheque in the appropriate amount made out to the “Victorian Studies Association of Ontario” to: Alison Halsall, VSAO President, 234 Vanier College, York University, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3. If you have any questions, please contact Joti Bilkhu, VSAO Secretary, at

Name: ____________________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________________ (Institutional, if possible)



Telephone: ______________   Email______________________

As a cost saving strategy, VSAO information is posted on our website regularly rather than being mailed out.

[  ] I enclose a cheque for $15 or $25 payable to the “Victorian Studies Association of Ontario.”

[  ] I enclose a cheque for $25 or $35 for Student / Standard Membership and Conference Registration.

[  ] I enclose a cheque for $60 for the Sustaining Membership and Conference Registration.

[  ] I am a student or sessional. I enclose a cheque for $15.

Previous VSAO Newsletters

Fall 2023

Fall 2019

Fall 2018
Spring 2018
September 2017
May 2017
September 2016
May 2016
September 2015
May 2015
September 2014
May 2014
September 2013
May 2013
September 2012
May 2012
September 2011
May 2011
September 2010
May 2010
September 2009
May 2009
September 2008
May 2008
September 2007
May 2007
September 2006
May 2006

Newsletter Archives (1968-2005)