Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies – Autumn Term 2019

Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies

18 November 2019

Kirstie Blair (Strathclyde), ‘Excelsior! Inspirational Verse and the Victorian Industrial Worker’.

Our first Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies event of the new academic year takes place at 7.30 on Monday 18th November 2019, in room 106 of the School of Arts building, 43 Gordon Square. Professor Kirstie Blair (Strathclyde) will give a paper titled: ”Excelsior! Inspirational Verse and the Victorian Industrial Worker’.

This paper uses research from the ‘Piston, Pen & Press’ project to discuss the enormous popularity of inspirational, motivating verse, a genre usually critically disregarded. It examines the role such poetry played in the cultures of working-class self-improvement and mutual improvement, for both working-class writers and readers.

Prof Kirstie Blair is the author of numerous articles/chapters and three books on Victorian poetry and its wider impacts on Victorian culture: her latest study, Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press and Community, has just been published by OUP. She is the PI on a 2-year AHRC project, ‘Piston, Pen & Press: Literary Cultures in the Industrial Workplace’, on which she works closely with a number of industrial heritage museums and creative partners. She is currently running a series of MOOCs on ‘Working Lives’, exploring the history of Victorian workers on the railways, in coal-mining, and in textile factories and mills.

The session is free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

Forthcoming Events

Alison Booth (Virginia): ‘Illustrating the Life and Complete Works of George Eliot: Homes and Story-Worlds.’

Wednesday 5th February 2020, 6.00pm. The Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square


Deborah Lutz (Louisville): ‘Marginalia and Other Forms of Graffiti.’

Wednesday 11th March, 2020, 6.00pm. The Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square.

For more information on the Centre and its activities, see

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Paid Opportunity: ArtLess Curatorial Internship – Deadline Friday 13th May 2016

The School of Arts invites applications for a curatorial internship to work with the ArtLess Project in collaboration with the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and Bury Museum of Art (Manchester) during the Summer Term 2016.

The ArtLess Group was established in 2014 to develop creative, entrepreneurial and project possibilities for PhD students across the Arts, and secured AHRC funding for the Arts of Experiment Project, to translate research into potential exhibitions on the international market. Working with partners at Bury Museum of Art (Manchester), students gained skills and experience in curatorial practice and international touring exhibition development. Among the outcomes was a programme of events on the ‘Arts of Experiment’, and a virtual exhibition on Angels and Avatars, which is being curated by Grace Halden and Daniel O’Donnell Smith.

Click here for further details on the ArtLess Group, and here for its curatorial experiments.

This internship will develop a strand of the ArtLess project, working in close collaboration with partners and the ArtLess group on an international touring exhibition project about fairies in nineteenth-century art.

We are looking for PhD students with an interest in curatorial practice and research specialism in nineteenth-century studies is an advantage.

The intern will be involved in:

  • Translation of research into curatorial practice
  • Development of an exhibition proposal
  • Networking and Liaising between the School of Arts, museums, and other non-HE partners
  • Pitching of an international touring exhibition
  • Organization and marketing in the curatorial sector
  • Public engagement

Remuneration: £15.26 per hour for a maximum of 110 hours to be completed by end July 2016.

Application procedure:

Please submit a full CV, the name of an academic referee, and a cover letter outlining a) your area of research, b) how the placement would benefit your academic study and c) how it will develop your career skills.

Please submit your application to with the subject line: ARTLESS CURATORIAL INTERNSHIP, by Friday 13 May

Please direct any enquiries to Dr Luisa Calè (


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Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Summer 2016 Programme

Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies Summer Term 2016 Programme

Friday 13 May 2016

‘Genres and Writing in the Digital Age’, 3.00-9.00pm

3.00-5.00pm ‘Novel Poetry’, Dino Felluga (Purdue)

Materials will be distributed in advance, please write to

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square 6.00-9.00pm ‘Nineteenth-Century Digital Periodicals’

Laurel Brake (Birkbeck), Helen Rogers (Liverpool John Moores University), and Dino Felluga (Purdue) Room G01, 43 Gordon Square


Monday 16 May 2016


‘Writing Arctic Disaster: Authorship and Exploration’, Adriana Craciun (UC Riverside), Felix Driver (Royal Holloway), and Michael Bravo (Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge) Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square


Tuesday 17 May 2016


‘Collecting and Archiving the Victorians’, speakers from the National Portrait Gallery, Guildhall Art Gallery, the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, and the Salvation Army Room G03, 43 Gordon Square


Thursday 19 May 2016


‘Running Wilde: outdoor exercise & the peculiar history of the treadmill’, Vybarr Cregan-Reid (University of Kent) Room G04, 43 Gordon Square


Friday 10 & Saturday 11 June 2016

‘Victorian Psychology Now’, a half-day reading workshop FOLLOWED BY A FULL-DAY SYMPOSIUM with Caroline Arscott, Carolyn Burdett, Benjamin Morgan, Tom Quick, Roger Smith, Heather Tilley, and Tiffany Watt-Smith Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square


This event is funded by the Birkbeck Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund


Friday 17 June 2016

‘Embarrassing Bodies: Feeling Self-Conscious in the Nineteenth-Century’

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square


Friday 8 & Saturday 9 July 2016

‘Forgotten Geographies in the Fin de Siècle, 1880-1920’

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square


For more information on the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, visit:

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Birkbeck Forum for c19 Studies: next event Tuesday 23 February 2016

Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies
Spring 2016 Programme

When: Tuesday 23 February 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Where: Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

The next event of the spring term for the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies will feature Bethan Stevens (Sussex) presenting on ‘The Wood Engraver’s Self Portrait: the Dalziel Brothers 1839-1893’ on Tuesday 23 February 2016 from 7.30pm to 9.00pm in the Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD.

Abstract: The Dalziel Brothers were the dominant London wood engraving firm of the Victorian period. They had enormous cultural power at a key moment in history, and their output of around 54,000 prints published from 1839 to 1893 included everything from Dickens and Trollope illustrations to fitness manuals and Cadbury’s adverts. They produced many of the landmark images of the century, engraving all of John Tenniel’s designs for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books of 1865 and 1871, as well as numerous Pre-Raphaelite illustrations to Edward Moxon’s landmark edition of Tennyson’s Poems(1857).

In this paper I investigate the role of the Victorian wood engraver and their business of artistically producing someone else’s lines. Is this mechanics, or creation? From drawing to autograph, the line is a powerful element of the way we understand artistic identity. The line is essential to aesthetics; without it there can be no boundary, no form, no artwork. Curling into letters and forms, the line connects writing and the image. An expressive gesture, the line is what links the body of the artist – their hands and eyes in particular – with the artwork as object. Mainstream Victorian wood engravers such as Dalziel had the job of creating another person’s line, and according to common beliefs about artistic identity and work, this is a paradox, which undermines many of our assumptions about what lines mean in art. My aim here is to explore Dalziel’s activity of making the other’s line, and to find a new method for understanding the wood engraver’s supposedly mechanical labour in relation to the imaginative and figurative artwork it produced. I think through the unique kind of authorship this involved, examining the wood engraver as line-maker, self-portraitist, signatory, stylist, and as (disembodied) hand and eye for hire.

The session is free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

Please email to join our mailing list or to obtain further information about the series.

For further information about the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, see:

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Call for Papers: ‘Victorian Periodicals Through Glass’, deadline 29 February 2016

Victorian Periodicals Through Glass: Reflections on the Theory and Practice of Digitising Nineteenth-Century Newspapers and Magazines

The Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London.
Friday 15 July 2016


When the flagship Journal of Victorian Culture announced its intention in 2008 to “act as a forum for digital research on the nineteenth century and for discussion of its relationship with traditional scholarship,” it was an acknowledgement that a wide range of nineteenth century research communities had become actively engaged with the imaginative and critical possibilities opened up by the digital world. Since then, its ‘Digital Forum’ section has included challenging work from a wide range of perspectives and chronicled the growth of this discipline over the past eight years.

Similarly, since Dickens Journals Online was launched publicly in 2012, the digital reception and exploration of Victorian periodicals and Dickens’s work has enjoyed an exponential growth; last year’s Being Human festival offered a showcase for some of the most interesting and innovative digital Dickens projects happening today, including The Drood Inquiry and the Our Mutual Friend reading project and Twitter group.

Most recently, Birkbeck’s online academic journal ‘19’ (itself an innovation in digital studies of the long nineteenth century) devoted its entire 10th anniversary edition for Winter 2015 to lengthier meditations on an array of exciting endeavours within the burgeoning nineteenth-century digital archive, including the digitization of Blake’s work and the cultivation of new research networks and discourses through digital projects.

Join us then for ‘Victorian Periodicals Through Glass’, a one-day conference running in conjunction with the Sally Ledger Memorial Lecture on Friday 15th July 2016 at The Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall. At this stunning and evocative venue, we are gathering together the leading thinkers and practitioners on the use of digital resources as research tools in 19th-century literary scholarship. We warmly encourage 19th-century scholars of all kinds to join us for a stimulating programme of theoretical discussions and practical expositions. We also encourage and call for proposals for both 20-minute spoken papers and 10- to 15-minute A2 poster presentations from

    • current or recent postgraduate students who use of digital resources in their research on Victorian periodicals or any other aspect of 19th-century literary studies
    • teams or solo practitioners working on digital editions or digital representations of nineteenth-century periodicals, whether Open Access or subscription-based

Topics may include, but are not confined to:

  • Research projects that are explicitly predicated on the use of digital material
  • The boons and methodological challenges of using such material
  • Comparisons between digital and older forms of resource
  • Creative uses of digital material in your work
  • How digital resources have shaped or will shape your research

Deadline for proposals: 29 February 2016. 500 words max; 1 page attachment; mail to Successful proposals will be announced by 20 March 2016

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Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies: Thursday 26 November 2015

Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies
Autumn 2015 Programme

The next event of the autumn term for the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies will feature Ruth Phillips (Carleton University) presenting on ‘Mississauga Methodist: Peter Jones and the Visual Mediation of Ojibwe Identity in Nineteenth-Century Canada’ on Thursday 26 November 2015 from 7.30pm to 9.00pm in the Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD.

The Reverend Peter Jones, or Kahkewaquonaby, was born in 1802 into an Indigenous world in what is now southern Ontario and died in 1856 as a respected member of a settler society on the brink of achieving self-government within the British empire. The son of a Mississauga mother and a Welsh father, he married into a prominent British Methodist family and devoted his life to missionary work amongst fellow Mississauga traumatized by the rapid dispossession, dislocation, alcoholism and family violence they suffered during the first half of the nineteenth century. This lecture explores Jones’s visual and textual modes of self-fashioning as mediations of these struggles, his own bicultural heritage and the divided loyalties he sought to reconcile.

The session is free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

For more information, see:

Please email to join our mailing list or to obtain further information about the series.

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Our ‘Strange Disquietude’ – Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies: 12 November 2015

The next event of the autumn term for the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies will feature Richard Adelman (Sussex) presenting on ‘Our “Strange Disquietude”: Ruskin and Gothic Literature’ on Thursday 12 November 2015 from 7.30pm to 9.00pm in the Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD.

John Ruskin’s account of the gothic spirit, from the central chapter of The Stones of Venice, ‘The Nature of Gothic’ (published in 1853), is highly influential and much fêted. Such influence has long been recognized over figures such as William Morris, over the architectural practices of Victorian Britain, and over political economic thought, especially after Ruskin’s 1862 publication of ‘Unto This Last’, which develops the earlier work’s critique of laissez-faire economics. But Ruskin’s innovative theorization of the concept of the gothic in ‘The Nature of Gothic’ has never been connected with gothic literature itself. This is a significant oversight, as this paper will demonstrate, one that has left a fundamental shift in Victorian gothic literature unrecognized, and that has allowed the eighteenth-century, consistently negative associations of the gothic to stand unchallenged in the very different world of post-Ruskinian gothic literature. Ruskin’s considerable influence over gothic fiction will be reconstructed, in this paper, by analysis of Charles Dickens’s Bleak House (1853), Sheridan Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly (1872) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1886).

The session is free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

For more information, see:

Please email to join our mailing list or to obtain further information about the series.

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New Look for 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century

We are delighted to announce that 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century at has had a makeover. We hope you’ll agree that the journal is looking very good as it prepares to celebrate its first ten years this autumn.

19 publishes two themed issues per year under the auspices of invited guest editors. It is part of Birkbeck’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and is under the general editorship of Dr Carolyn Burdett.

The journal is now proudly housed within the Open Library of Humanities (OLH), a platform for open access publishing also based at Birkbeck. The OLH has a unique model to fund open access journals in the humanities that doesn’t rely on author charges but instead receives support from a large number of libraries. Please do see their website at for more on getting your libraries involved or to learn about moving other journals to their model.


Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies School of Arts Birkbeck, University of London

43 Gordon Square



United Kingdom

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19C Studies – Literary Cosmopolitanism: Theory and Practice: Deadline 30 Sept 2015

‘Literary Cosmopolitanism: Theory and Practice’

A one-day Graduate Workshop

Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Birkbeck, University of London

19 November 2015

Call for Participations

Literary Cosmopolitanism Further Details

Cosmopolitanism, etymologically derived from the Greek for ‘world citizenship’, offers a radical alternative to the ideology of nationalism, asking individuals to imagine themselves as part of a community that goes beyond national and linguistic boundaries. Together with the cognate concepts of inter-nationalism and trans-nationalism, cosmopolitanism has become a widespread and contentious term within literary studies, affecting our understanding of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature in particular.

This one-day graduate workshop is designed to introduce doctoral students to the current critical debate on cosmopolitanism. It will consist of a seminar based on pre-circulated critical material followed by the opportunity to relate the discussion to the participants’ individual research. The workshop is open to PhD students in all areas of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary studies (English, comparative literature, modern languages), from all universities, but it is limited to a maximum of 15 participants. No previous knowledge of theories of cosmopolitanism is required. There is no registration charge and lunch will be provided as part of the event. Two small travel bursaries are available for participants coming from further afield.

In order to secure a place, or for general enquiries, please write to Prospective participants should send a CV and a short statement of maximum one page stating how they envisage that attending the workshop will benefit their research by 30 September 2015 at the latest.

‘Literary Cosmopolitanism: Theory and Practice’ is part of the AHRC-funded project The Love of Strangers: Literary Cosmopolitanism in the English ‘Fin de Siècle’ (PI Stefano Evangelista, Oxford University). It is a collaboration between Birkbeck, University of London and Oxford University. The workshop will take place in London and will be led by Stefano Evangelista, Ana Parejo Vadillo, and Clément Dessy.


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New issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century Online Journal

19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 20 (2015) Charting the Crimean War: Contexts, Nationhood, Afterlives

The Crimean War (1853–56) is much more culturally significant than its popular mythologies suggest. Now remembered mainly for the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Lady with the Lamp, the war is a pivotal moment in the history of modern warfare seen as both the last of the old wars and first of the new. The first total war, it inaugurated new forms of weaponry, tactics, communication, war reporting, military medicine, and new attitudes towards soldiers. The issue provides a number of new perspectives on these features of the war as it played out in the British, French, and Russian imagination. Contributors mediate the vexed issue of medical provision for the British and Russian armies; sensitivities around Britain’s military alliance with France; royal and poetic interventions into the welfare of the British soldier; the religious, commercial, and emotional investment in soldier-heroes like Captain Hedley Vicars and the Light Brigade; the memorialization of the final action of the war, the fall of Sebastopol; and, finally, the war’s continuing cultural and geopolitical relevance. Incorporating statistical analysis, journalism, photography, objects, art, film, and literature, this issue of 19 makes a case for the conflict’s wide-ranging significance.


‘Charting the Crimean War: Contexts, Nationhood, Afterlives’

Rachel Bates, Holly Furneaux, and Alastair Massie

‘Reporting the Crimean War: Misinformation and Misinterpretation’

Mike Hinton

‘Russian Medical Service During the Crimean War: New Perspectives’

Yulia Naumova

‘The French Army and British Army Crimean War Reforms’

Anthony Dawson

‘”All Touched my Hand”: Queenly Sentiment and Royal Prerogative’

Rachel Bates

‘The Afterlife of Thomas Campbell and “The Soldier’s Dream” in the Crimean War’

Tai-Chun Ho

‘Who Blew the Balaklava Bugle?: The Charge of the Light Brigade and the Afterlife of the Crimean War’

Lara Kriegel

‘The Life and Afterlives of Captain Hedley Vicars: Evangelical Biography and the Crimean War’

Trev Broughton

‘Sebastopol: On the Fall of a City’

Trudi Tate

‘Off the Chart: The Crimean War in British Public Consciousness’

  1. L. Berridge

To download the articles, see:

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