VI conference rescheduled: October 22-23, 2021 in Charlotte, NC

UPDATE: Victorians Institute 2020 & COVID-19

We are happy to now announce our new conference date: October 22-23, 2021. We look forward to rebooting our “Reflections/Refractions: Victorian(ist) Ways of Seeing” conference in Charlotte, NC. All proposals already submitted for the 2020 conference will be automatically considered for acceptance to this event.

In the meantime, we still want to offer you the opportunity to share your excellent scholarship. The editors of the Victorians Institute Journal are always seeking quality essays for publication, and the journal goes on, pandemic or not. Stay in touch with the scholarly community and (until we meet again in person) submit your essays to the journal at For guidelines, visit the journal’s website at

Additionally, please stay tuned to the Victorians Institute website and our Facebook page for further information about the 2021 conference. Until then, stay safe. Kindest regards,

Bonnie Shishko and Casey Cothran

Refractions/Reflections: Victorian(ist) Ways of Seeing

Dates TBD, 2021 — Charlotte, North Carolina 

(PDF version)


In The Stones of Venice (1851-1853), John Ruskin writes, “The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.” Ruskin pushed his contemporaries to see the world for themselves plainly. George Eliot echoes this idea in Adam Bede (1859), writing “all truth and beauty are to be attained by a humble and faithful study of [human] nature, and not by substituting vague forms, bred by imagination on the mists of feeling, in place of definite, substantial reality.” In contrast, other writers of the period reveled in creating imaginative, sensational, or fantastical worlds that moved beyond the boundaries of the seen and known. This conference seeks essays that explore how Victorians saw their world, how they depicted what they saw, and the ways that modern scholars, in turn, see the Victorians. Papers or panels on poetry, prose, nonfiction, biography, digital humanities, or visual art are welcome, as are presentations on the pedagogy and ethics of teaching Victorian literature in 2020-21.

Possible topics include:

  • Emotional, Intellectual, Aesthetic Insight
  • Visual Print Culture, Advertising, Ephemera
  • Visual Technology: Magic Lanterns, the Diorama, Binoculars, the Stereoscope
  • Optical Illusions/Literary Allusions
  • Observation & the (Scientific) Eye: Telescopes, Microscopes, Mirrors, Glasses
  • Victorian Photography/Illustration
  • The Imagination/The Mind’s Eye
  • Seeing Ghosts & Gothic Ways of Seeing
  • The Spectacle/Spectacular
  • The Great Exhibition
  • Shadows/Secrets/Surveillance
  • Mesmerists & Spiritualists
  • Performance/Performativity
  • Victorian Theater
  • The Visible/Invisible
  • Detectives/Detection, Criminals/Crime
  • Memoir/Memory/Retrospection
  • Fantasy & Reality
  • Travel & Travelogues
  • Pornography/Iconography
  • Food & its Presentation: the Home & the Restaurant
  • Self-Perception/Self-Construction
  • Victorian Landscapes & the Natural World
  • Art/Art Criticism/The Art Gallery
  • Medieval Revival & Revisions
  • Erasure & Censorship
  • Literal/Figurative Blindness
  • Objects/Objectification/the Other
  • Neo-Victorian/Modern Perceptions
  • Pedagogy: Victorians in the Age of #metoo

Please send a 300-word abstract and 1-page c.v. to the conference organizers at (Word or PDF format) by May 1st, 2021. Proposals should include contact information. Panel proposals should include contact information for all participants, a synopsis of the panel, and abstracts for all papers.

“Folded eyes see brighter colors than the open ever do.”

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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CFP for VI2019 conference in Charleston, SC

Transatlantic Cable Map

Please also see the conference website: The Victorians Institute is pleased to announce its 2019 conference and welcome abstracts on the topic of

Transatlantic Connections:
Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas, & Victorian Studies

To be held October 31 – November 2, 2019 in Charleston, SC. Our conference site affords an opportunity to think about transatlantic connections in the 19th century when Charleston was a prominent intersection on a web that connected Britain, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas.

We hope our conference will foster thinking about the many and various ways that Victorian literature and culture engages the Atlantic World. We invite essays and panels that investigate the diverse possibilities of our theme and, in keeping with it, encourage work that draws connections across the spaces that divide academic disciplines. Topics may include:

  • Emigration & Immigration
  • Slavery Abroad & at Home
  • Hybrid Languages, Cultures, & Peoples
  • Economic Affiliations & Rivalries
  • Culinary Connections
  • Ecologies, Climates, & Storms
  • Treasure Islands & Dark Continents
  • Pen Pals, Alliances, & Friendships
  • Travel Narratives
  • Romanticizing the Past
  • Envisioning the Future
  • Colonial Affairs
  • Technologies of Travel & Communication
  • Exploration & Adventure
  • Diasporas & Expatriates
  • The Body: Diseases, Infections & Antidotes
  • Copyrights & Piracy
  • Grand Tours & Lecture Tours
  • Victorians in Charleston
  • Trade Routes, Raw Materials, & Cash Crops

To apply, please submit a 250-300 word abstract of your paper. To propose a panel, please supply an abstract for each paper as well as a short description of the panel. Send all applications and questions to Abstracts must be received by June 1st July 1st, 2019.

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Apply for the 2018 Patrick Scott Prize

The editors of the Victorians Institute Journal invite submissions for the Patrick Scott Award for Best Graduate Student Paper presented at the 2018 “Consuming [the] Victorians” conference.

Please submit the complete paper (including works cited and images) without your name, along with a separate cover sheet that does include your name, institutional affiliation, and paper title to

Selected members of the VIJ Editorial Board will adjudicate the award. The winner will receive $500 and be recognized at the 2019 Victorians Institute Conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

The deadline for submission is Friday, December 14.

Please address any questions to VIJ‘s editors, Maria K. Bachman and Don Richard Cox, at

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CFP for VI2018: Consuming (the) Victorians

Details about the 2018 Victorians Institute conference have been announced! Please consider joining us this November 9-10, 2018 in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, for a conference on:

Asheville, NC
November 9-10, 2018

The 47th annual meeting of the Victorians Institute will explore the patterns, behaviors, and economies of consumption–both literal and figurative–that we’ve inherited from the Victorians, as well as the myriad ways in which millennial audiences consume the Victorians as part of our everyday lives. We invite participants to join us in considering the legacies of nineteenth century consumption, from the popular media we stream to the holiday traditions we hold dear to the consumer habits we can’t break.

For the full CFP and conference details, visit

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CFP: 2017 VIJ Annex and Patrick Scott Prize

The editors of the Victorians Institute Journal invite “Victorian Recovery” conference participants to submit their papers for possible inclusion in the peer-reviewed Victorians Institute Journal Annex, an interactive, online extension (with separate content) of the print journal.

To be considered, please submit the complete paper (including works cited and images) without your name, along with a separate cover sheet that does include your name, institutional affiliation, and paper title to Questions may also be directed to that address.

If you wish to be considered for the Patrick Scott Award for Best Graduate Student Paper ($500), please indicate on the cover sheet your graduate student status. Selected members of the VIJ Editorial Board will serve as the selection committee and the winner will be recognized at the 2018 Victorians Institute Conference.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, November 20, 2017.

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