CFP: Spectacles and Things: Visual and Material Culture and/in Neo-Victorianism

Neo-Victorian Studies invites essays for a 2011 special issue which aims to investigate a hitherto under-explored aspect of neo-Victorianism: visual and material culture and the complex relationship between the twentieth/twenty-first and nineteenth centuries in neo-Victorian products and productions.

Deadline for submission of completed papers: 30 December 2010

The re-entry of the nineteenth century into twentieth- and twenty-first-century culture tends to be both highly visual and material, making its appearance, as it does, on a contemporary capitalist market and packaged to appeal to a wide consumer base. Neo-Victorian visuality and materiality take centre stage on numerous levels, ranging from memory as haunting, ghostly appearances and inter¬textualities, and biofiction of iconic figures from the period, through prevalent tropes of photography, microscopes, dioramas, exhibition and museum spaces, to the construction of scopic and panoptic regimes, as well as complex narratological perspectives. Processes of marketing and consuming Victoriana likewise pertain to the visual, as do constructions of an academic point of view that seeks to understand the relationship between the nineteenth-century past and the contemporary moment in terms of re-vision.

Literary descriptions of the Nineteenth Century, as well as cultural presentifications (Gumbrecht) of all things Victorian, try to make the past as tangible as possible – via depictions or reproductions of Victorian interiors and fashions, steampunk culture, or re-enactments of one-time living conditions – presenting the Nineteenth Century in commodity form. Theoretical approaches to this current renegotiation of the past include deconstructionist theorisations and Marxist approaches such as Cultural Materialism, which deem the neo-Victorian project deeply ideological, since it allegedly fetishises Victorian culture and nourishes a nostalgia for the values, social structures and accomplishments of the past.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
• materialism, commodity culture, and consumerism
• the world of the senses
• neo-Victorian representations of painting and other visual arts
• fetishised objects: collections and exhibitions
• scientific vision and the physical world
• photography and image culture
• other ways of seeing: spiritualism and spectrality
• comics and graphic novels
• film and TV series

This special issue derives from the international conference “Fashioning the Neo-Victorian: Iterations of the 19th Century in Contemporary Literature and Culture” (April 2010, Erlangen, Germany), but is not limited to submissions by conference participants.

Articles between 6000-8000 words should be submitted by e-mail Word Document attachment to the guest editors Nadine Boehm ( and Susanne Gruss (, with a further copy to the General Editor, Marie-Luise Kohlke ( Please address enquiries or expressions of interest to the guest editors.

For submission guidelines, please consult the journal website.

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