Victorian Popular Fiction Society STUDY DAY: Victorian Collaborations

deadline for submissions: 
January 20, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Victorian Popular Fiction Society
contact email: 


Victorian Popular Fiction Association Study Day

Victorian Popular Collaborations

Saturday 22 April 2017, 10am - 5pm

Manchester Metropolitan University, Cheshire Campus

Keynote: Patricia Pulham, Reader in Victorian Literature, University of Portsmouth.

Roundtable: ‘Teaching Victorian Popular Collaboration’ led by Study Day Organisers Kirsty Bunting, MMU, and Janine Hatter, Hull.


"Collaboration is one of the literary features of our age, and at the present rate of progression there seems to be some prospect of it attaining alarming proportions in the future"

(Walter Besant, ‘Guide to Matrimony’ in the St. Valentine’s edition of Home and Hearth, 1892)

Call for Papers

This VPFA Study Day asks whether it is possible to understand the full complexity of the nineteenth-century literary tradition without acknowledging that, as the result of the expansion of the literary marketplace, there was a marked proliferation of collaborative modes of writing. Across the century co-authorship, multiple authorship and networks of collaborators of all kinds became increasingly common and visible.

Nineteenth-century commentators like Besant, as well as recent critics, have argued that the literary marketplace underwent a re-evaluation of its inherited constructs of authorship, testing the idea of the ‘Romantic’ mode of Authority, which valorised writing as a solitary endeavour and celebrated the Author as the Genius-Proprietor of their text.

What is it about the surrender of the idea of the lonely, predominantly male, garret-writer which Besant, himself a prolific collaborator with co-author James Rice, found so 'alarming'? How do we account for the growth of collaborative writing or for its popularity with readers? What problems did reading multiple authorship raise for readers? What were the benefits of writing

in partnership? What were the different methodologies of shared authorship in the period? How did writing with a long-term literary partner differ from contractual or casual collaboration, say for a serial? How did serial publication, with artists and illustrators as collaborators, effect reading popular fiction? How do notions of shared, split or joint literary identities interact with the notion of the popular?

We welcome proposals for 20 minutes papers that respond to these, or other topics, which may include, but are not limited to:

• Popular Literary and Artistic Collaboration

• Collaboration in the Periodical Press

• Networks of authors

• The salon as collaborative space

• Cross genre collaboration

• Gender and shared writing

• Anonymous/secret collaborators

• Influence and collaboration: the residual echoes and effects of other authors

• Interrupted or infiltrated Authorship

• Posthumous collaboration/the unfinished text

• Neo-Victorian re-writings

• Collaborative/shared/family/group reading experiences

• Shared life-writing

• Correspondence as collaboration

• Intergenerational collaboration

• Juvenilia/sibling/nursery writing

• Mentorship

• ‘The muse’ as collaborator

• Impropriety/propriety and textual ownership

• Textual/sexual: erotic merger on the page

Please email proposals of 300 words and 50 word biography in Word format to both Kirsty Bunting and Janine Hatter

Deadline for proposals: 20th January 2017


Study Day with vegetarian buffet lunch and refreshments: £16.50


Optional Afternoon Cream Tea at The Brasserie, Crewe Hall Hotel, 5 - 7.30 pm (transport with 7.45pm Crewe train station drop off, included): £27