New Romantic Praxis volume, “Circulations: Romanticism and the Black Atlantic,” now available

Circulations: Romanticism and the Black Atlantic

A Romantic Circles Praxis Volume

Edited by Paul Youngquist and Frances Botkin


Victoriographies Vol. 1, No. 2, November 2011 Now Available

The newest issues of Victoriographies is now available, featuring the following articles:

‘Mad music rising’: Chopin, Sex, and Secret Language in Arthur Symons’ ‘Christian Trevalga’

Nick Freeman

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 157-176 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0027, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

This essay examines Arthur Symons’ short story, ‘Christian Trevalga’ from his Spiritual Adventures (1905). It aims to a) situate it in the context of wider late-Victorian considerations of pianistic performance and Symons’ adulation of Vladimir de Pachmann, b) examine its application of Symons’ theories about music, as advanced in his contemporaneous critical essays, and c) investigate the ways in which the story makes a suggestive link between music and sexual orientation with especial reference to the fictional encounter between Trevalga and Tchaikovsky in the Vienna of the 1890s.

Keywords. Symons, Pachmann, Chopin, homosexuality, piano music, performance

‘Incessant toil and hands innumerable’: Mining and Poetry in the Northeast of England

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 177-201 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0028, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

In this essay, Keegan begins with a broad discussion of the representation of miners and mining in British poetry prior to 1900. She then offers an overview of poetry written specifically by miners. The essay focuses on two poets, both lead miners in the northeast of England in the second half of the nineteenth century, and both of whose works speak to the cultural and economic impact of rural diaspora. For Thomas Blackah (1828–95) and Richard Watson (1833–91), their unique poetic identities are bound up in their particular dale with its particular dialect. While any poet’s intentions in writing are many, both clearly see poetry as preserving and affirming declining communities and celebrating and conserving the natural environment that is a defining feature of that community. Their poetry highlights the distinctive language and the natural environment of their native northeastern regions, and these elements define how they conceive of themselves as artists. Blackah’s and Watson’s poetry depicts a rootedness in the landscape that exists in tension with the displacements caused by changing industrial and economic conditions.

Keywords. Mining, Poetry, Labouring-Class Culture, Regional Dialect, Richard Watson, Thomas Blackah

Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘Rebels in the name of beauty’

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 202-220 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0029, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

‘Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche: “Rebels in the Name of Beauty” ’ reconsiders the intellectual confluence of Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche. It is unlikely that Wilde and Nietzsche knew of each other. Yet, similarities between their conceptions of truth, aesthetic experience, individualism, and ethics, as well as their highly evocative, aphoristic styles, have drawn a large number of critics – from Thomas Mann to Patrick Bridgwater and Julia Prewitt Brown – to compare them. Such comparisons have, though, been brief and often focused on biographical parallels. This article provides, therefore, the first substantial discussion of the dynamics between the ideas of Wilde and Nietzsche. It argues that the parallels between Wilde and Nietzsche centre on their Romantic Individualism, and the shared belief that the individual ‘become[s] himself’ through aesthetic experience. The textual foci are four works written within three years of each other: Nietzsche’s The Antichrist (1888) and Twilight of the Idols (1889), and Wilde’s ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’ (1891) and ‘The Critic as Artist’ (1891). These works, I argue, define Romantic Individualism through the strikingly similar, secular, appropriation of Jesus, whilst stylistically exemplifying the way in which the Romantic Individual may be brought into being through the experience of literary art.

Keywords. individualism, Romanticism, truth, aesthetics, Jesus

Trollope and the Hunt for West Country Identity

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 221-242 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0030, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

This essay explores the intersection between the politics of regionalism and recreation in Anthony Trollope’s Barsetshire novels. The relationship between narrative structure and local environment articulated in Trollope’s series links the form of the Victorian regional novel to an interrogation of England’s relationship to its internal geography by questioning, in effect, how a region can remain autonomous and yet be a resource for national identity. Trollope’s response is to use the regional practice of fox-hunting to preserve the West Country’s unique place in the national imagination through sport. Situating the Barsetshire novels within hunting’s vexed place in nineteenth-century rural communities and focusing on Doctor Thorne, I suggest that Trollope advances a conservative ideology that the region’s identity can only be sustained through preserving country house culture. Trollope represents hunting as an ingrained rural custom, thus paradoxically using a national sport to promote regional insularity and justify the landowning class’ social control of the region.

Keywords. Barsetshire, Doctor Thorne, fox-hunting, region novel, estate, recreation

Vestiges of the Phoenix: De Quincey, Kant and the Heavens

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 243-260 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0031, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

This essay examines the context surrounding Thomas De Quincey’s 1846 essay, ‘System of the Heavens as Revealed by Lord Rosse’s Telescope’, placing it in relation to the thesis of Robert Chambers’ then anonymous proto-evolutionary Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. I argue that De Quincey’s essay – which never mentions Vestiges  – can be read as an attempt to refute the ‘succession’ model of evolution and development put forward by Chambers, and that it does so by turning to Immanuel Kant’s ‘Phoenix of Nature’. The article traces the complex relationship between De Quincey and Kant’s model of the Heavens through a comprehensive analysis of both Kant and astronomy in De Quincey’s voluminous body of work, complicating our understanding of De Quincey’s relationship to the ‘destroyer’ of Königsberg, and revealing the crisis of experience that emerged in De Quincey’s engagement with Kant and the Heavens.

Keywords. De Quincey, Kant, Chambers, Astronomy, Experience, Evolution

Domesticating Socialism and the Senses in Jane Hume Clapperton’s Margaret Dunmore: Or, A Socialist Home

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 261-286 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0032, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

Domesticating Socialism and the Senses in Jane Hume Clapperton’s Margaret Dunmore: Or, A Socialist Home

Clapperton’s utopian novel, Margaret Dunmore: Or, A Socialist Home (1888), provides a good example of the way in which matters of everyday life – food, childcare, the home – were increasingly implicated in agendas for social transformation in the fin-de-siècle period, and seen as problems that could be solved by modernity. The varying programmes for change offered by socialists and feminists in this period, however, could reflect sharply divergent views of the pleasures and politics of everyday life, and Clapperton’s novel assumes a disparity between ‘social happiness’ and the sensory experience of the individual that warrants examination. Beginning with an overview of Clapperton’s theory of ‘conscious’ evolution which takes the home as the locus of social transformation, this essay will focus on the place of the senses and emotions in Margaret Dunmore, written to exemplify Clapperton’s political philosophy of ‘Scientific Meliorism’ which combined socialism and feminism with evolutionary and eugenic theory. In this novel, the individual’s sensory experience poses a threat to the well-being of the ideal community. Unlike emotions, which Clapperton depicts as amenable to conscious adaptation through a combination of social correction and self-scrutiny, sensory experience is inherently anti-social, immune to the claims of service to others which was crucial to Clapperton’s understanding of socialism. From childcare to cooking, forms of sensory deprivation are heralded as the key to efficiently resolving the disorder or conflict caused by over-stimulation or self-indulgence. As a result, despite Clapperton’s emphasis on the ‘evolution of happiness’, the value placed on rationality, technology, and self-control over convivial pleasures means that the constrictions and inequities of bourgeois domesticity are merely reconfigured rather than abolished.

Keywords. utopian fiction, socialism, feminism, eugenics, evolution, senses, emotions

CFP: VSAO Panel at ACCUTE: “Victorian Hesitations,” Waterloo (May 2012)

Victorian Studies Association of Ontario/ Assoc. of Canadian College and University Teachers of English – Joint Panel

Fiona Coll and Constance Crompton

Victorian Hesitations: Indeterminacy in Language, Art, and Politics


The Victorian ethos is often understood to have been based upon action, expansion, and initiative. However, behind all the evidence of Victorian vim and vigour lie traces of equivocation, vacillation, and indecision. From the Crown’s factual reluctance to make Cameroon a British protectorate to Lady Bracknell’s fictional admonition against irresolution in The Importance of Being Earnest, a concern with hesitation marks the prose and policy of the era. This panel invites papers that explore suspended moments in Victorian culture – moments when a delay, however long, was of real consequence. How did the Victorians understand hesitation? How did they weigh the ethics of equivocation against the virtues of candor? How did their moments of uncertainty manifest themselves in movement? How was the difference between deliberation and doubt calibrated in this age of enterprise?

Papers may focus on, but need not be limited to:
















Following the instructions on the ACCUTE website (under Conference) for joint association sessions, send your 700-word proposal (or 8-10 page double-spaced paper), a 100-word abstract, a 50-word biographical statement, and the submitter information form (, to Constance Crompton at by November 15th.

CFP: “Charles Dickens and the Mid-Victorian Press,” U Buckingham (UK), March 2012



28-31st March 2012, University of Buckingham UK

The School of Humanities at the University of Buckingham and the Victorian Studies Centre at the University of Leicester are delighted to announce an international Dickens Bicentenary conference, featuring the launch of the Dickens Journals Online project, and an exhibition of archive materials curated by Antony Burton. Our list of invited speakers currently includes:

Laurel Brake, John Drew, Holly Furneaux, Louis James, Patrick Leary, Hazel Mackenzie, Robert Patten, Joanne Shattock, Michael Slater, John Sutherland, John Tulloch, Cathy Waters, Tony Williams, and Ben Winyard.

‘Household Words’ and ‘All the Year Round’ are key mid-century weekly journals, showcasing the work of over 350 contributors as well as that of their illustrious founder and ‘Conductor.’ Critical analysis of their contents is an increasingly diverse and dynamic field, soon to be assisted by an open-access scholarly online edition (see based at the University of Buckingham. To celebrate the Bicentenary of Dickens’s birth, and the public launch of the website, you are warmly invited to an international conference that aims to position Household Words and All the Year Round within the broader context of nineteenth-century periodical culture, through invited papers and contributions from experts in these and a range of rival publications, and website workshops.

Submissions are invited, in three main areas relating to the conference theme:
a)      original close readings of one or more articles from Household Words and All the Year Round, or the work of an individual contributor. Many articles in the journals―whether by Dickens, a known contributor, or anonymous―repay close scrutiny, whether approached in stylistic, rhetorical, ideological, or historical terms. Yet the published literature in the field is small, and something that the conference seeks to redress.
b)  appraisals of the contribution made by either or both journals, more generally, to key areas of debate in the mid-Victorian press. Public health, social policy, science and technology, education, gender roles, the urban experience, imperial expansion, emigration and the law, are just some of these. Aesthetic and cultural analysis of the journals, as miscellanies, in terms of the dynamics of genre they present, or in terms of broad thematic or bibliographic concerns that the paper sets out to explore, will also be welcome.
c)      contrastive readings of other contemporary periodical publications―whether weekly, monthly or quarterly―in relation to Household Words and All the Year Round, that will assist us in positioning the latter in relation to the crowded mid-century marketplace. Such publications might include Chambers’s Journal, The Examiner, Punch, Bentley’s Miscellany, the Illustrated London News, The Cornhill Magazine, as well as political and literary reviews, and ‘penny bloods.’

Submissions from graduate students and as yet unpublished scholars will be particularly welcome. 500-word proposals for 20-minute papers to reach by Friday 30 December 2011.
An edited selection of the Conference Proceedings, embracing the three main areas above, will be published by the University of Buckingham Press in 2012. A complimentary copy will be included with every conference booking. For further details, see