Nineteenth-Century Formations

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Hong Kong
contact email: 

Nineteenth-Century Formations

The University of Hong Kong

December 6-7


This interdisciplinary conference asks participants to rethink the nineteenth century and its social, aesthetic, and discursive formations. It brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to consider the categories that inform and shape our various disciplinary approaches to the nineteenth century. In doing so, it invokes the term “formations” in a broad sense, to convey the processes by which concepts, categories, structures, systems, and institutions—many of which remain in place today—came into existence during this period.


We invite papers from scholars of the long nineteenth century from a range of fields: art history, Asian studies, China studies, East Asian studies, history, Hong Kong studies, literature, media studies, musicology, philosophy, theater studies, etc. Papers might consider the term “formation,” or they might problematize, historicize, or trace conceptual, aesthetic, or structural formations across or at any point in the nineteenth century. Papers can also interrogate the categories, concepts, forms, and structures we use today to make sense of the period, or reconsider the boundaries and periodization of fields, such as the “long nineteenth century” or Victorianism. By bringing together scholars from various backgrounds, the conference aims to start cross-disciplinary conversations that will shed new light on the nineteenth century and its legacies. The conference will also include a workshop for postgraduate students.


“Nineteenth-Century Formations” will take place in Hong Kong, a global city whose own history was indelibly shaped by the expansion of empires, trade, war, and migrations of the nineteenth century. It will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong and will include some outings into the city. Keynotes include Hidetaka Hirota, associate professor of history at Sophia University in Tokyo; Grace Lavery, Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of California Berkeley; Vanessa Smith, Professor of English Literature at the University of Sydney. 


Contributions can take the format of a classic 20-minute paper or a short 5-7 minute reflection on a concept, object, text, or image. Please send a 300-word abstract and a one-page CV to Julia Bowes at or Jessica R. Valdez by September 15, 2019. 


Topics might include (but are not limited to)



Capitalism, liberalism, democracy


Communications and media: the telegraph, railroad, newspaper, media

Eco-criticism, the environment, environmental history

Empires, nationalism, colonialism

Form, formalism, new formalism

Gender and Sexuality


Global and transnational frameworks

Nation, the state, the public

Nationalism and cosmopolitanism

New historicism, formalism, etc.

Novel, the bildungsroman, narrative

Race, ethnicity, indigeneity




Romantic, Victorian, neo-Victorian

Science, evolution, empiricism 

Slavery and emancipation 

Time, serial form, rhythm  

Urbanization, industrialization, migration