Conference: Queen Victoria & George Eliot: Lives and Afterlives, 1819-2019

eliot and victoria

Friday 24 May 2019

Martin Hall, Loughborough University

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Martin Hewitt (Anglia Ruskin University)

Rethinking the Victorians generationally:
The lives and afterlives of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species

Professor Beverley Rilett (University of Nebraska–Lincoln)

George Eliot’s Life in Biography

You can now register for the conference here:

Registration rates:

Waged – £45
PGRs/ECRs/unwaged – £35.00
Free to Loughborough University students


Keynotes: Stanley Evernden Studio (ground floor)               Panels: Room 117 (first floor)

9.15-10.15                  Keynote, Professor Martin Hewitt (Anglia Ruskin University)

‘Rethinking the Victorians generationally: The lives and afterlives of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species

10.15-10.30                 Break

10.30-11.50                 Victoria in the Media

  • ‘Myths of the Victorian era: an image of the Queen,’ Alphia Karaseva (Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences)
  • ‘Long Live Queen Victoria! The Filmic Afterlives of a Victorian Media Icon,’ Barbara Straumann (University of Zurich)
  • ‘“But this is Scotland, Albert”: Escapist English Tourism and the Recreation of Scotland’s Romanticized Otherness in ITV’s Victoria,’ Heather Ennis (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

11.50-12.00                 Break

12.00-13.20                 Fin-de-Siècle Afterlives

  • ‘Before Death and Afterlife: Oscar Wilde’s “Chronological Error,”’ Aaron Eames (Loughborough University)
  • ‘The Receptive, Diaphanous Body George Eliot in Walter Pater: Towards a Re-Assessment of George Eliot’s “Victorianism,”’ Greta Perletti (University of Trento)
  • ‘Queens of Their Realms: The Monarch and the Bestseller,’ Joanna Turner (Loughborough University)

13.20-14.00                 Lunch

14.00-15.00                 Parallel workshop sessions (attend one of the below sessions) 

The Workhouse, Southwell (National Trust)

Jan Overfield Shaw, Creative and Community programme officer at The Workhouse and two volunteers Jenny Martin and Charlotte May, discuss the research they have undertaken and their experiences of visitor engagement with the Victorians. Talks will include:

  • ‘The Life and times of Lady Laura Ridding,’ Jenny Martin
  • ‘What the Dickens? Visitors’ perceptions of the Dickensian workhouse,’ Charlotte May
  • ‘More than Oliver Twist,’ Jan Overfield Shaw

Workshop with Professor Beverley Rilett (University of Nebraska–Lincoln), Public Engagement with Digital Scholarship: Some Digital Archives of Interest to Victorianists

15.00-16.20                 Objects, Heritage and Englishness

  • ‘On the reclining sofa: Queen Victoria, George Eliot, and the Victorian chaise-longue,’ Gloria Hoare (Birkbeck College, University of London)
  • ‘”Some attention to those female members”: Constructing a history of feminine monarchy in the first exhibition of Kensington Palace’s State Apartments, 1899,’ Catriona Wilson (University of Warwick/Historia Royal Palaces)
  • ‘Gissing, Victoria, and Englishness,’ Tom Ue (Dalhousie University)

16.20-16.35                 Break    

16.35-17.55                 Morality, Veneration and Idealised Portraits

  • ‘“So unsentimental a resource as beer”: George Eliot, John Blackwood and the ‘ideal in fiction,’ Stephanie Meek (University of Exeter/University of Reading)
  • ‘A Victim of Veneration: Biographical Representations of Queen Victoria in Her Own Time,’ Connor E. R. DeMerchant (University of New Brunswick—Saint John)
  • ‘Writing the Queen: Victoria(n) biography,’ Siv Jansson (Loughborough University)

18.00-19.00                 Keynote, Professor Beverley Rilett (University of Nebraska–Lincoln)

‘George Eliot in Biography: Still Searching for the Real Mary Ann Evans’

Drinks reception/optional conference meal



CFP (now closed)

“it is curious how sometimes you can trace likenesses many generations back….” 

(letter from Victoria to Leopold I of Belgium, 24 October 1843)

This conference will focus on the lives and afterlives of Queen Victoria and George Eliot, both born in 1819 and both defining figures in our understanding of the Victorian period. The double bicentenary also offers an exciting opportunity to reflect on how academic and public attitudes to the Victorian period have changed, and this conference will bring new research on Victoria and Eliot together with explorations of questions around periodisation and interpretation from leading academics and heritage sector professionals. How have biographies, fictionalisations and new discoveries about Queen Victoria and Eliot informed our understanding of their lives and afterlives? What was the effect of different literary, social and political networks and communities on Victoria and Eliot’s reputations, both during their lifetimes and after? How can new methodologies in the analysis of literature and history change our understanding of these women, and the Victorians more broadly? What do Victoria and Eliot represent today, and how have they become emblematic of the Victorian era itself? How has our understanding of what it meant to be a ‘Victorian’ and a ‘Victorianist’ transformed in the past two centuries?

The anniversary of Victoria’s birth is 24 May 2019. The conference take place on this day and will feature papers focusing on Victoria and Eliot as living figures in the nineteenth century, and representations of these figures in museums and heritage sites, biography, literature, and media (including new media such as video games, film and TV).

Through this dual focus we aim to foster dialogue between a range of disciplines, as well as bearing in mind the potentialities of these figures for outreach work, public engagement and alternative academic careers. How can we responsibly bring these two long-dead women to life for twenty-first century audiences?

We invite abstracts from a range of disciplines. Applications from postgraduates and early career researchers are particularly encouraged.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

* Queen Victoria – lives, afterlives, biographies, adaptations, fictional representations

* George Eliot – lives, afterlives, biographies, adaptations, fictional representations

* New methodologies in Victorian studies

* Defining ‘the Victorian’, problematising the term ‘Victorian’

* Periodisation

* Victorian generations – relationships between older and younger generations

* Afterlives – biographies and fictional representations (across media)

* Networks and communities – publishers, biographers, memoirists

* Neo-Victorianism

Please send proposals of 250-300 words and a bio of 150 words to: by 27 February 2019.

We will be offering a small number of PGR bursaries, thanks to generous sponsorship by the George Eliot Fellowship. Further information about applying for these will be made available in March. 

Organised by Emily Bell, Eleanor Dumbill and Sarah Parker, as part of the Cultural Currents, 1870-1930 research group. This event is generously supported by the Institute of Advanced Studies, Loughborough University and the George Eliot Fellowship. For full details about all of the George Eliot events happening in the bicentenary year, see their website.

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