Sunday, January 06, 2013

CFP: Neo-Victorian Villainy (3/24/2013; 5/25/2013)

Neo-Victorian Villainy:
Adaptation and Reinvention on Page, Stage and Screen
Department of Theatre, Film and Television
University of York, UK
Saturday May 25th 2013

This one-day symposium aims to facilitate cross-disciplinary discussion between scholars in Film, Theatre, Television, Neo-Victorian Studies, Literature, Adaptation Studies, and Fan and Popular Culture Studies. At its heart is the research question:

In what ways do modern representations of the villain in popular culture draw on the popular culture and iconic villains of the Victorian period?

Responses might consider any number of cultural manifestations, from direct adaptations of Victorian fiction and neo-Victorian fiction, to sequels/prequels, crossover fiction and modernisations, to new stories set in the Victorian era, or the more indirect ways in which Victorian conventions and innovations continue to influence popular good-versus-evil narratives.

One of the attractions of much neo-Victorian fiction, film and TV is undoubtedly the ‘permission’ that it grants readers to indulge their enjoyment of fast-paced, incident-packed narrative, in homage to, or pastiche of, the classic nineteenth-century novel. But to what extent do such narratives also permit the reader to return to clear character categories of good and evil, even if only as an inversion, where the villains are those who were once considered the ‘great and the good’ of the Victorian period? 

Some further areas for consideration might include, but are not limited to:

  • Lines of influence between uncanny figures of the fin de siècle – Count Dracula, Svengali, Edward Hyde, Moriarty, Dorian Gray, Ayesha – and twentieth-century film, television and comic-book villains
  • Neo-Victorian fiction, film, TV and theatre interrogate the (re)gendering of the villain
  • Historical events, such as the Wilde trials or the Ripper murders, which have been reframed in recent work to create new ‘villains of the piece’
  • The roots of neo-Victorian representations of villainy in the ‘Gaslight Melodramas’ of the 1940s: Gaslight, Fanny By Gaslight/Man of Evil, Footsteps in the Fog, Hangover Square
  • The influence of psychoanalytical ideas, filtered through pop psychology and the self-help industry, on modern readings of Victorian villains
  • The relationship between the Victorian popular press and sensational fiction, and its modern echoes in print, TV and new media.

Please send abstracts of around 200 words to the symposium organiser, Dr Ben Poore, at by midnight on March 24th 2013. Authors of successful proposals will be notified during the following week. Details of how to register will also be circulated at that point.