Events and Calls for Papers

Call for Papers: Dickens Day 2022

‘Beginning Dickens’

Saturday 8th October 2022, Senate House London, UK

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

After a hiatus of two years, we are very happy to announce that Dickens Day is returning in 2022. Accordingly, the topic for this year’s conference is ‘Beginning Dickens’, as we take this moment to resume our discussion of Dickens and his works and begin again. Publishing his novels in serial instalments meant that Dickens had to think carefully about the openings of his works to ensure readers were suitably intrigued and invested to buy the next instalment. As Dickens developed as a writer, so he began to plan his novels in advance; his early works therefore can offer a stark contrast between how a story starts and how it ends, while his later works can be analysed for any early warnings or foreshadowing of later plot developments.

Equally, there is also opportunity here to consider how we, as readers, begin Dickens. Such is the author’s fame that his reputation always precedes him, so what does it mean for a modern reader to experience Dickens for the first time today? Do we encounter him through adaptations first, before turning to the original? How does Dickens match our expectations? And how do we encourage new readers to begin Dickens?

Finally, there is the consideration of Dickens’s own life. How did he begin his life and career; and how did he embrace or encourage new beginnings and reinventions through his life?

These are just some of the questions we hope to consider on the day. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the theme and warmly encourage Dickensians and scholars of all backgrounds and career stages to apply. Topics could include but are not limited to:

  • New beginnings in Dickens’s life and works
  • First experiences of reading Dickens
  • Dickens for children
  • Dickens’s early novels and writing
  • First meetings between characters
  • Fresh starts, new beginnings and turning points
  • False starts and cul-de-sacs
  • First instalments and opening chapters of Dickens’s novels
  • First editions of Dickens’s works
  • Early reactions to Dickens from his contemporaries
  • First impressions of Dickens
  • Dickens’ child characters
  • Dickens’s attempts to reinvent himself
  • Regeneration and transformation in Dickens’s novels
  • Reputation and foreknowledge: Dickens’s works as culture-texts.

Please send proposals (maximum 500 words) and a short bio to Pete Orford, Emma Curry, Hadas Elber-Aviram and Claire Wood at

The deadline for paper proposals is 31st May 2022.


Loughborough’s Cultural Currents and Textual Editing research groups are excited to announce their online symposium on Editing Decadence.

The event will take place online via Microsoft Teams on Friday 6 May, 14.00-18.00.

The programme is as follows:

14.00-14.15  Welcome on behalf of Cultural Currents Research Group, Loughborough University (15 mins)
14.15-15.15 Catherine Maxwell (Queen Mary, University of London) and Stefano Evangelista (Trinity College, University of Oxford)

‘Editing “The Jewelled Tortoise” Series’ (45 mins plus 15 mins Q&A)

15.15-15.30 Break (15 mins)
15.30-16.30 Nick Freeman (Loughborough University)

‘Arthur Symons: Editorial Adventures’ (20 mins talk, plus 10 mins Q&A)

James Diedrick (Agnes Scott College)

‘Editing and Annotating Mathilde Blind’ (20 mins talk, plus 10 mins Q&A)

16.30-16.45 Break (15 mins)
16.45-17.45 Alex Murray (Queen’s University, Belfast), Sarah Parker (Loughborough University) and Carolyn Dever (Dartmouth College)

‘Editing Michael Field’s Prose’ (45 mins, plus 15 mins Q&A)

17.45-18.00 Final thoughts/close


Call for Papers: Victorian Antipathies

4-5 November 2022

University of Stuttgart, Germany

Confirmed keynote speaker: Pamela Gilbert

In this conference, we aim to explore the neglected ‘opposite’ of sympathy: antipathy. Sympathy has long been a focal point of Victorian studies, so much so that Carolyn Burdett (2020) has recently asked with reference to George Eliot: ‘Is there anything left to say about sympathy […]?’ While sympathy in its various guises – as concept, feeling, intersubjective ideal, connection between characters, and ethical appeal to readers – has undoubtedly been a productive field of enquiry, this one-sided focus on sympathy in criticism carries the danger of overstating its role. Also referring to Eliot’s work, Rae Greiner points out that the ‘wealth of talk is disproportionate to the narrow fund of sympathy represented in [Eliot’s] novels’ (2009, 300). Besides sympathy, other, similarly important if less appealing, feelings and actions, including hatred and protracted conflict that may lead, in their extremes, to violence and murder, occupy a defining place in Victorian literature. This conference turns the spotlight on these various manifestations of antipathy in Victorian literature and culture to explore their literary and cultural significance, to determine their aesthetic implications, and to identify their progressive potential.

Victorian psychologist and philosopher Alexander Bain argued that the ‘very name “antipathy” implies the deathblow to fellow-feeling’ (1859, 183), suggesting that antipathy was, like sympathy, of concern to the Victorians. It features in explorations of relations between mental and physical aspects, self and other, individuals and groups. Bain defines antipathy as a ‘malevolent passion’ that ‘may arise without the provocation of injury, as in the antipathies of race, of caste, and of creed’ and has its ‘highest activity’ in ‘Warfare, Hostility, Combat’ (Bain 1870, 265). Similar to Bain, who explores the physiological basis of antipathy, his contemporary Sophie Bryant claims that ‘the physical accompaniment’ precisely distinguishes antipathy from mere dislike: ‘Antipathy is full of horrid thrill: it stirs the physical being like a shock: it is a thing of nervous tremors and heart-pangs and even deranged digestion’ (Bryant 1895, 366). Victorian writers, too, showed a keen interest in creative explorations of antipathy across a wide range of themes and in diverse fictional and non-fictional genres. In 21st -century Victorian Studies, therefore, Bryant’s assessment that the ‘analysis of antipathy and its relation to sympathy is a subject which may be worth more detailed and careful study than it appears as yet to have received’ (Bryant 1895, 365) remains as timely and urgent as it was in the nineteenth century.

Taking Bryant’s call for the study of antipathy as our point of departure, this conference aims to contribute to the growing research on unprestigious feelings with a specific focus on the Victorian age. As opposed to the cathartic effects triggered by pity and fear, for example, antipathetic sentiments are less likely to lead to purifying release, and feature in texts that ‘foreground[] a failure of emotional release ([… a] form of suspended “action”)’ (Ngai 2005, 9). Sianne Ngai in Ugly Feelings explores the political potential of such ‘ugly,’ non-cathartic and repressed emotions, while Zachary Samalin has recently focused specifically on Victorian cultures and the political aesthetics of disgust (Samalin 2021). Audre Jaffe has argued that affective cues and responses of distress, disgust, and shame shape representations of and reader responses to class identity (Jaffe 2017). Relatedly, we might ask in how far the ‘representation of class as affect’ (Jaffe 2017, 731) is a representation of class as antipathy. Arguably, the aesthetic ideals of realism and naturalism lend themselves to eliciting readers’ antipathies to discourage immoral behaviour and foster a sense of group (often middle-class) identity – aims that also inspire Victorian hopes for sympathy and its ethical effects.

We welcome papers addressing topics relating to antipathy broadly conceived. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • aspects of antipathy such as hatred, violence, disgust, irritation, shame
  • relationship between antipathy and sympathy, tolerance, forgiveness
  • antipathy in personal and social relations: marriage, imperial/colonial relations, class relations
  • affective, physiological, ideological aspects of antipathy
  • antipathy as strategy to draw or upset boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, beliefs, people, literatures
  • antipathy and Victorian genres and modes: e.g. realism, sensationalism, aestheticism, nonfictional writing, performance, neo-Victorian literature
  • antipathy and the act of writing/reading: antipathy as expression of contemporary readers’ difference from Victorian texts and values; antipathy and/as critical practice

Please send us your 250-word proposal for a 20 minute talk and a brief bio note to Nina Engelhardt (University of Stuttgart): and Anja Hartl (University of Konstanz): by 15 May 2022.


If you would like to add an event to this list, please contact the Online Editor, Elly McCausland, at