CfP: ‘Neo-Victorianism and the Senses: Sensing the Past’

The University of Surrey (UK) is hosting a one-day conference on Friday 22nd March 2019. Their call for papers closes on 16th December 2018.

From the cover of Harper‘s (October 1896) via Flickr/Boston Public Library

Keynote Speaker:

Professor Rosario Arias, University of Málaga

‘Every sensorial perception is at the same time past and present’ (Hamilakis, 2013).

Since the publication of William A. Cohen’s seminal text Embodied: Victorian Literature and the Senses (2009), the senses in Victorian literature and culture have come to signify an area of burgeoning interest. In turn, a focus on sensory modalities has proven particularly fruitful for framing contemporary perceptions of the past in neo-Victorian fiction during the last few years (e.g. Silvana Colella; Rosario Arias; Patricia Pulham).

In light of this increased scholarly attention, this one-day symposium seeks to highlight the critical role the senses play in shaping literary, filmic, and theatrical revisions of the long nineteenth century and in bridging the gap between past and present. Following the recent ‘material turn’ and employing critical approaches such as phenomenology and sensory studies, this symposium interrogates the role of the senses in the construction and negotiation of the past in neo-Victorian literature, film, television, theatre, art, and fashion.

Possible topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • The five senses in/and neo-Victorianism: touch, taste (literal and aesthetic), sound, smell, and sight (re/vision).
  • The ‘sixth sense’: extrasensory perception; intuition; sensing the supernatural; haunting and spectrality; the trace.
  • Intersensoriality and synaesthesia.
  • Sensuality; sensuousness; indulging in/ inhabiting the past.
  • Sensations: the neo-sensation novel; pain and/or pleasure.
  • Critical approaches to neo-Victorianism: phenomenology, sensory studies, affect, and materiality.
Screencap from Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

The organisers welcome proposals for 20-minute papers, or panels, which consider the senses in neo-Victorian literature and culture from a variety of disciplines.

Please send 250-word abstracts, with a 50-word biography to, and by 16th December 2018.

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