Victorian 'Structures of Feeling' in Late 20th and 21st-Century Cultural Products, 12-14 June 2014

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University of Paderborn

Victorian 'Structures of Feeling' in Late 20th and 21st-Century Cultural Products

Conference, 12-14 June 2014, University of Paderborn

At the moment British (cultural) politics seem to be relapsing into a conservatism informed by 19th-century structures and ideologies. The continuities between the Victorian era and contemporary society, however, are not restricted to the political level, and this is why the conference aims at exploring manifestations of this 'Victorian Renaissance' on the level of cultural representation(s).

Neo-Victorianism, the formal level of these recurrences, has already been studied quite often, so rather than focusing on the conscious imitation of Victorian styles, we are interested in the subtle operation of Victorian 'structures of feeling' in late 20th and early 21st-century Britain and the ways in which they shape contemporary discourses and society. More particularly, we wish to elucidate how these structural and ideological connections manifest themselves in cultural 'texts' of the two eras.

Despite their temporal distance, the two time periods offer striking points of comparison when it comes to population development, mobility, gender relations as well as economic practices. We would like to make these similarities palpable by analysing their cultural and literary representations during the Victorian era as well as the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Examples of recurring social, cultural and representational patterns abound. A growing tendency toward moving from the country to the bigger cities, for instance, characterises both eras. Challenges to patriarchy began with the New Women at the 19th-century fin de siècle and nowadays express themselves in debates about quota for getting more women into leadership positions. Together with these social trends, typical Victorian plot structures such as the romance are taken up, adapted or subverted. We invite papers that analyse the links between these developments from the 19th to the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as well as their ideological functions now and then, using cultural texts of all kinds.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • the connection between gender, spaces and consumer practices
  • the comparison of media formats such as newspapers, serialised fiction etc.
  • publishing processes and industries
  • the development of advertising practices
  • Victorian plot structures in contemporary (popular) fiction and film
  • melodramatic tendencies in late 20th and 21st-century drama

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to the organisers by 31 January 2014. Papers should not exceed a limit of 20 minutes. We are looking forward to your proposals!

Dr. Christina Flotmann (
Anna Lienen (