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Victorian Popular Fiction in the 21st Century (Roundtable at NeMLA, Hartford, CT, USA March 17-20, 2016)

An ever increasing interest in Victorian popular fiction prompts us to ask why have we in Victorian Studies become so invested in the popular in recent years? How have certain theoretical fields such as gender studies, material culture/thing theory, post-colonial theory, etc. contributed to this rapid increase in interest? What does the popular do for us as scholars that the “canon” does not, or can we still think in terms of canonical and non-canonical texts in Victorian Studies? Is it still possible to think of a standard Victorian canon in a post-Google age when so many previously unavailable texts are now available at the tips of our fingers? How is the inclusion of the popular in the classroom changing Victorian Studies for our students? 

Topics might include:

  • Sensation fiction (Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Mrs. Henry (Ellen) Wood, Rhoda Broughton, Charles Reade)
  • Adventure fiction (Frederick Marryat, M. P. Shiel, R. M. Ballantyne, Bessie Marchant)
  • Speculative fiction (Edward Bulwer-Lytton)
  • Spiritualism, Mesmerism, or the Occult (Margaret Oliphant, Florence Marryat, Helena P. Blavatsky, Andrew Lang, Richard Marsh, Marie Corelli)
  • Drama and melodrama (George Meredith, Fanny Kemble, Caroline Norton, George Du Maurier, Fanny Stevenson, Lloyd Osborne, Dion Boucicault, Gilbert and Sullivan)
  • Satire and parody
  • Mystery and Detective fiction (E. W. Hornung, Charles Warren Adams, George W.M. Reynolds)
  • New Woman fiction (Amy Levy, Ouida, George Gissing, Mona Caird, Charlotte Mew, Sarah Grand, Olive Schreiner)
  • Sentimental or religious texts (Catherine Gore, members of the Booth Family, George MacDonald, Charlotte Yonge)

This roundtable welcomes submissions that address these questions and many more from scholars whose work examines the spectrum of Victorian popular fiction. Please submit a 250-word abstract and a one-page CV. Submit abstracts online by September 30th at