CFP: International Centre for Victorian Women Writers – 1860-70s

International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW)

From Brontë to Bloomsbury Second International Conference: 
Reassessing Women’s Writing of the 1860s and 1870s

6-7 July 2015
Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK
Confirmed keynote speakers:
Professor Adrienne Gavin (ICVWW)
Professor Lyn Pykett (Emeritus Professor, Aberystwyth University)

The ICVWW’s five-year project From Brontë to Bloomsbury: Realism, Sensation and the New in Women’s Writing from the 1840s to the 1920s aims to trace and reassess, decade by decade, how women’s writing develops in the cultural context of the 1840s to the 1920s: a transformative period in women’s private, public and literary lives. Including the work of canonical authors such as Charlotte Brontë and Virginia Woolf, the project is also significantly concerned with rediscovering and repositioning the lives and work of neglected female authors.

Following the project’s very successful first conference in 2014, devoted to women’s writing of the 1840s and 1850s, this cfp seeks proposals for papers that explore the range and vitality of British women’s writing from 1860-1879. Particularly welcome are papers which encourage new perspectives on literary genre, the critical reception of women writers, or canon formation.

The 1860s and 1870s saw the beginning of an organised ‘Women’s Movement’ and a heightened awareness of the subversive potential of female authorship. Fears for the moral health of the nation were exacerbated by the Girl of the Period and the explosion of ‘sensation’ novels in the wake of Lady Audley’s Secret and East Lynne; respectable women campaigned against The Contagious Diseases Acts, Queen Victoria was widowed and the Married Women’s Property Act was passed.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Sensation fiction and crime writing
  • Novels of the ‘neglected’ 1870s
  • Literary censorship
  • Journalism and periodical writing
  • Letters, diaries and memoirs
  • Children’s literature
  • Lesser known women writers such as Rhoda Broughton, Anne Thackeray Ritchie etc

2015 marks the centenary of the death of Mary Braddon, Queen of the Circulating Libraries and key popular writer of the 1860s. Material from the Braddon Archive, held privately from her death until it was deposited with the ICVWW in 2012, will be displayed during the conference, which will also include a round table in collaboration with the Mary Braddon Association.

300 word abstracts and a 100-150 word biographical note should be sent to the organisers Adrienne Gavin, Carolyn Oulton and Alyson Hunt at by 31 March 2015.

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