Open Calls for Papers and Roundtables

Gaslighting in Victorian and neo-Victorian Literature and Film

Proposed panel for NAVSA 2022: Just Victorians
“Gaslighting in Victorian and neo-Victorian Literature and Film”
Organized by Nora Gilbert, University of North Texas and Tara MacDonald, University of Idaho

Taking up the call to reconsider nineteenth-century commitments to justice, this proposed panel explores gaslighting in Victorian and neo-Victorian literature and film. The term has reentered popular culture and media in recent years, appearing in countless headlines related to sex, race, politics, medicine, and emotional abuse. The origin of the term, however, is Victorian: it derives from Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play—and, more famously, the 1944 Hollywood adaptation of the play—”Gaslight,” set in late-Victorian London.

Philosopher Kate Abramson defines gaslighting as “a form of emotional manipulation in which the gaslighter tries (consciously or not) to induce in someone the sense that her reactions, perceptions, memories and/or beliefs are not just mistaken, but utterly without grounds.” How did Victorians depict and define gaslighting in literature of the period? And how does neo-Victorian fiction and film (re)imagine such scenarios? We are also interested in creative approaches to this concept, such as gaslighting narrators or texts, or ways in which contemporary understandings of gaslighting might be informed by historical approaches (or vice versa). Papers addressing pedagogical approaches are welcome, too.

Please send 300-word abstracts plus short bios by April 15 2022 to Nora Gilbert and Tara MacDonald at and

Deadline 15 Apr 2022
Organizer Nora Gilbert
Just Beyond the Horizon and Just Out of Sight

Muddles, hidden lives, gradations between kinds, holes in space and time: these are only some of the multitude of unrepresentable objects and forms for which nineteenth-century thinkers attempted to account in their writings and worlds. From the physics of the invisible to the by turns conscious and unconscious lacunae of geological and colonial archives, such things make visible the consistent decoupling of irresolvable elements from totalizing structures unable to incorporate them. Victorian literature is full of present absences like these. Tangling with them requires confronting questions of reference and its failure; representation and its misapprehensions; abstraction and its obfuscations; the ideational and its fantasized abdication of (but ultimate inextricability from) the material.

Likewise at stake in the problem of present absence are Victorian/ist methods of imagining, reading, and historicizing; of fantasizing about and formalizing all manner of genres (literary and extra-literary) and things. Whereas John Ruskin locates in Tennyson a “diseased” projection of feeling whereby the poet is “overdazzled by emotion” misrecognized as the world’s “true appearance,” Elaine Freedgood tracks how the realist novel (and, more broadly, “literary form”) is “assigned, not discovered,” such that a generic fiction becomes grounds for the “break[ing of] the world into worlds”—for the absolutizing of the white liberal subject’s (novel-)world as the world over and against all others. If, like Ruskin’s “overdazzled” second-order poets, Victorianists have sometimes mistaken assignation for discovery or abstraction for concretization, the field has at other key moments eagerly retreated from the muck, leaning too heavily upon direct reference and the easy exits afforded by its absence (the notion, for instance, that some texts are straightforwardly because referentially “about” race whereas others are not).

We envision a panel—or set of linked panels—addressing the interpretive possibilities of and methodological challenges posed by referential quagmires, failures of apprehension, and ideational abstractions. How do we, as scholars, attempt to integrate the heavy omissions of both the canon and our own methodologies into new practices of reading? At stake in these papers is a taxonomy of the unrepresentable, not just indicating the many lacunae that populate our field and subject-matter, but also developing a robust set of approaches to actively reorienting acts of speculation towards recovery and praxis. Please send 300-word abstracts plus short bios by 15 April 2022 to Devin Garofalo ( and Tobias Wilson-Bates (

Deadline 15 Apr 2022
Organizer Devin Garofalo
Nobody Cares, but Everyone Should: A New History of the Novel

In the wilds of literary criticism–reading essays, reviewing books, listening to conference papers–many of us know what it is to encounter a truism about the novel that we know, from a more more specialized perspective, to be untrue. In some cases, quantitative evidence exists that disproves accepted histories of the novel, yet, we continue to rely on the outdated versions.

Each proposal for this roundtable should identify a “true fact” about the novel that can be disproven by well-documented and underacknowledged research or data already in circulation. From there, papers might speculate on one or more of the following questions. What does it take to make people care about a new discovery and to incorporate it into the scholarly narrative? How do you change discourse? Why do we ignore things that don’t fit?

Please send 250-word proposals to Sarah Allison ( and Megan Ward ( by April 19, 2022.

Deadline 19 Apr 2022
Organizer Sarah Allison
Poetry’s Data

How might we think of poetry as data then and now. How was poetry used to “prove” theories of whiteness, theories of pronunciation, theories of national inclusion or exclustion? This panel is interested in how we now might parse poetry as “data” for quantitative projects in the 21st century but also in how poets themselves collected data as information on which to base their poems or collected data about composition or poetic forms (think Hardy or Hopkins). How do poems function as data in other print contexts than the poetry volume? Is what we now call a suprasegmental part of poetry’s metadata? What assumptions do we make about poetry’s data (as information) do we make when we claim that poetry might enact a kind of knowledge? 200 words & 1-2page CV, please!

Deadline 25 Apr 2022
Organizer Meredith Martin


“To establish his own identity, Caliban, after three centuries, must himself pioneer into regions Caesar never knew.” – C.L.R. James, Beyond a Boundary

When we think of a text, person, movement, or concept, what just is Victorian? Victorian studies is reckoning with its canonical and exclusionary boundaries, both as objects of study and as practices for our scholarship. This proposed panel will explore the definition of “just” as an adverb that measures conformity or congruity. This use of “just” incorporates two types of entwined modifying phrases: the spatial (as in: “just above/beyond/beside”) and the commensurable (as in: it is “just the same”). This panel aims to consider both that which falls squarely within the contours of “the Victorian,” and what requires – and required – additional work to be made to fit.

By considering the valences of “just” denoting that which corresponds, forms, or fits,
these papers will think about the processes of naturalization, appropriation, and justification which animate Victorian works and which continue to trouble our debates about the field to this day. Who or what within Victorian studies didn’t require a modifying phrase? At stake in this question is the foundation of “Victorian justice” itself; we need to understand what constituted “Victorian” before we can look at how justice was meted out.

We invite papers that look at these questions both historically (who did Victorians consider “one of them”) or methodologically (how do we define what it is we study). In doing, we hope to explore what is both gained and lost by refusing to allow “Victorian Studies” to consume everything.

Please send 250-300 word abstracts and a short bio by 27 April 2022 to: Lindsey E. R. O’Neil ( + CC: Sarah Ross (

Deadline 27 Apr 2022
Organizer Lindsey O’Neil
Just Data: Working with Datasets in Victorian Studies (Roundtable)

Making Victorian datasets––whether encoding “Victorian” writers or compiling circulation records on colonial lending libraries––involves core questions around how we define our objects of study. This roundtable explores the forms of our data in Victorian studies, using case studies to motivate discussion around what it means to conceptualize, undertake, and share this work within the field.

Submissions should include examples from a particular dataset (e.g. your spreadsheets, databases, CSV files, etc), and should use this case study to explore the methodological questions at stake in collecting, sharing and citing our datasets as evidence. Papers might explore some of the following questions: What kinds of collections (and collectivities) do nineteenth-century datasets obscure or make visible? What makes your data messy or partial––that is, what are the material, epistemological, historical, or formal challenges that make your data difficult to work with, acquire, or share? How can scholarly data be better preserved? How does this data change our work as scholars? What might a peer-reviewed “data collective” ––along the lines of Post45 or McGill’s World Literature Data Collective––look like in our field? And how useful is “the Victorian” as a descriptor for the kinds of data that we work with? Please send 250-word abstracts and brief bios to Troy Bassett ( and Sierra Eckert ( by April 28.

Deadline 28 Apr 2022
Organizer Sierra Eckert
Just Assignments (Roundtable)

Recent conversations about how we teach Victorian literature and culture, particularly as part of the “Undisciplining the Victorian Classroom” project (Pearl Chaozon Bauer, Ryan D. Fong, Sophia Hsu, Adrian S. Wisnicki), have generated exciting new pedagogical approaches and classroom practices that foreground racial and social justice. Meanwhile, methods of “ungrading” (Jesse Stommel, Susan Blum), along with constructivist approaches to academic writing such as the “unessay” (Ryan Cordell, Emma Dering, Matt Gall), have drawn attention to the systems of privilege and the ineffective focus on formal criteria that undergird conventional forms of assessment, offering compelling alternatives.

This roundtable seeks to promote discussion and generate practical ideas for innovative assignment structures in the Victorian Studies classroom. How can we think beyond the traditional assignments (the research essay, the reading response, the test) in order to practice socially just pedagogy; foster critical, active, and/or presentist approaches to Victorian objects; and facilitate creative, collaborative, and even activist student work?

Position papers (8-10 mins) might present innovative assignment structures; explore the constraints and affordances of particular theories of/approaches to student assessment, grading, and learning objectives; consider anti-racist, feminist, or decolonial methodologies in assignment design; describe effective alternatives to the research essay in Victorian Studies classes, including digital, multimodal, creative, practical, or other nontraditional projects; examine what it means to “undiscipline” the Victorian Studies assignment; or otherwise engage with the roundtable topic.

Please send 200-word abstracts plus brief bios to Anna Gibson at by April 21.

Deadline 1 May 2022
Organizer Anna Gibson
Just “Aftermaths” within Posthumanism

How can we resituate and redefine Victorian studies so that we can respond to what Olivia Loksing Moy calls, “aftermaths,” which become the consequences of racial othering and the systematic canonization of Victorian literature? This panel questions, are there ways in which we can justify the lost voices or underrepresented racial minorities by futurist-oriented methodologies such as posthumanism?

Various characters such as Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, Bertha from Jane Eyre, Count Dracula from Dracula have all appeared in Victorian novels, but have all been to a certain degree, wrongly represented or in a negative, non-human form. How can new ways of reading Victorian novels recuperate their representations or how do neo-Victorian works create a homage for the voices of racial minorities? This panel seeks to justify the lost or non-existent representations of Victorians through readings of new materialism or posthumanism.

Please send 300-word abstracts and a brief bio or c.v. by May 2nd to

Deadline 2 May 2022
Organizer Jungah Kim
Just Victorian Poetry: New models for canon reformation

This panel addresses ways to unsettle and “undiscipline” the Anglocentric-metropolitan-middle/upper-class centres of Victorian poetry. Mary Ellis Gibson (Colby College) has agreed to be the chair and a respondent, and I’m now hoping to add 3 speakers to the panel.

Possible paper topics: global Anglophone Victorian poetry (including colonial poetry, poetics of empire); transatlanticism; regional poetry; working and rural-class poetry; indigeneity and Victorian poetry; poetry of emigration/immigration; verse translation; race, ethnicity, and the Victorian poet; revisioning the geographies of Victorian poetry; anthologizing new canons.

I warmly welcome expressions of interest by email. 300 word outline (plus 1-2pp CV) must be submitted by email attachment by 25 April.

Deadline 6 May 2022
Organizer Alison Chapman
19th-Century Nationalisms

“19th-century nationalisms”
Nationalisms have returned as a focus of world politics, despite earlier predictions of their looming irrelevance. This panel invites papers approaching 19th-century nationalism from any angle. Possible interests might include race, gender, empire, colonial and postcolonial futures, comparative nationalisms, the role of literature or aesthetics, and/or links between the past and the present day.

Please send 250-word abstracts and a 1-2 pp. c.v. to Rachel Teukolsky ( and Tyler Talbott ( by May 6th, 2022.

Deadline 6 May 2022
Organizer Rachel Teukolsky
Radical Visions: Socialism and “New Thought” in Britain 1882-1900

Papers are sought on “just Victorians,” those who in the last decades of the nineteenth century imagined through their writings a more egalitarian, peaceful, less violent world—anti-vivisectionists, anti-imperialists, socialists, sexual non-conformists, environmental preservationists, and reformers of all types. Please send 250 word abstracts and a brief bio or c. v. by May 10th to

Deadline 10 May 2022
Organizer Florence Boos
Open Call

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