Call For Papers

Just Victorians


Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

September 29 – October 2, 2022


Lehigh University is hosting the North American Victorian Studies Association conference in Fall 2022. This conference will bring together scholars from around the world representing numerous disciplines. We will host a majority of the conference events at the Hotel Bethlehem in historic Moravian Bethlehem, recently listed as a World Heritage site.

The conference theme, Just Victorians, invites attendees to reconsider the nineteenth-century commitment to justice as well as presumed limitations of our understanding of “Victorian.” New models of undisciplining the field of Victorian studies interrogate established methods, aesthetics, and geographies–challenging the scope, forms, and peoples of the period. While many Victorians dedicated themselves to social causes throughout the century, including campaigns for racial, decolonial, environmental, and health justice, this dedication often led to unforeseen consequences, including devastating damages to underprivileged individuals in urban settings, colonized peoples, and women and racialized subjects. Conference presenters may investigate how Victorian pursuits of justice were ardent and their conceptualizations of “the just” were limited. Victorians sought justice, and their successes and failures invite us to reconsider what we mean as just Victorian studies. What constituted Victorian social justice? How did Victorians actively seek out justice for themselves and others? In what ways did Victorians envision justice and for whom? What were the limits of Victorian visions of justice?

How has the scope of “the Victorian” limited our fields and methods? Are there meaningful limits to the “Victorian” in Victorian studies?

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Specific iterations or theories of justice: legal, racial, environmental; or, social, distributive, retributive, etc
  • Environment or ecologies
  • Climate change
  • Political reform
  • Feminist activism
  • Decolonial, anti-racist, and undisciplinary methodologies
  • Canon formation and reformation
  • Educational reform
  • Medical and public health reform
  • Utilitarianism
  • Religious activism
  • Social problem literature
  • Public and Digital Humanities
  • Constraints and affordances of genre, media, and form
  • Defining what is or is not “just” Victorian

Our keynote speaker is Professor Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb (University of Toronto), scholar of colonial and postcolonial literature and theory and author of Epidemic Empire (Chicago 2021). In addition, we will be hosting a plenary panel on “Just Ecologies” featuring Ji Eun Lee (Sungkyunkwan University), M.A. Miller (UC Davis), and Kyle McAuley (Seton Hall University).

Proposal submissions guidelines:

Paper (15-20 mins): max. 300 words

Panel (3-4 presenters): max. 1,200 words

Roundtable (5-7 speakers with brief position statements): max. 1,500 words

Open call CFP for panels (1,200 words) or roundtables (1,500 words)

Digital projects showcase (for individuals and teams): max. 300 words

Poster Projects for Undergraduate students (max 300 words)

A panel or roundtable proposal should articulate the overall topic, its interest to the field, and each presenter’s contribution. Open calls for panels or roundtables will be made available on the conference website. Panel organizers seeking to release their own CFP will have the option to submit and announce it on a separate page and are responsible for vetting proposals and submitting a panel proposal under the general CFP submission portal before May 1st, 2022. Open calls can be submitted and viewed here.

We encourage people to form panels and roundtables with diversity and inclusion in mind.

Digital showcase proposals should highlight the relevance of the digital work to Victorian teaching or scholarship practices that make use of information technologies to address the conference theme and/or solve problems in interesting or original ways.

All submissions should include brief CVs for all presenters (1-2 pp.).

Conference participants may moderate other sessions but otherwise should not appear in more than one session.

We are planning for a limited number of slots for remote presentations in a hybrid setup at the local conference. When submitting your abstract to the portal an option for “remote presentation required” will be provided.  If you have any questions regarding this hybrid option, please email the conference organizers.

Deadline: May 22th, 2022

Submit My Abstract!


Please contact for any questions or concerns.

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