Visualizing the Victorians: Objects, Arts, and Artifacts

deadline for submissions: 
February 5, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Victorian Studies Association of Ontario, 51st Annual Conference, 28 April 2018
contact email: 

Call for Papers:

Victorian Studies Association of Ontario, 51st Annual Conference

28 April 2018

Toronto, Ontario


Visualizing the Victorians: Objects, Arts, and Artifacts


            Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron once quipped that “the capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” In many ways, Cameron’s remark acts as a guiding ethos for the ways in which Victorians were acutely honed to “pay attention” by way of observation, negotiating many new and emerging visual, ocular, and empirical techniques in an era of massive historical change. This panel seeks to explore the ways in which the material and visual intersected in the Victorian period, and to what degree those potentially intertwined preoccupations enabled the representation of events and of the era’s other concerns and influences. How did the Victorians visualize their own period through material objects? How did these serve not only as reflections of their aesthetic sensibilities, but also as objects and technologies instrumental to their sciences, politics, imperial pursuits, religious beliefs, and leisure activities? What audiences did these objects presuppose and, in turn, which audiences were excluded from such enterprises? This panel welcomes an interdisciplinary dialogue that uses varied conceptions of the visual—the ocular, the material, the visually imagined, and the empirically observed—as a way to shed light on the visionary Victorian age and its unfolding legacies in our own contemporary moment.


Papers might address (but are not limited to):


  • Views, landscape design, interior design, decorative objects
  • Illustration and print culture
  • “Impressions” and the ocular in art
  • Technologies of the visual: photography, microscopes, telescopes, zoetropes, kinetoscopes
  • Spectacles, displays, advertising, exhibitions
  • Visualizing the imagination: fantasies, dreams, utopias
  • Maps and cartography
  • The visual and the ocular in scientific, literary, and philosophical texts
  • Empirical methods, material evidence, visual proofs
  • Visual perspective, scope, and detail
  • Policing, surveillance, voyeurism, observation
  • Memorials and memorializing objects
  • Objects, objecthood, objectivity
  • Visualized narratives and counter-narratives


Please send an email attachment of your 300-to-400-word paper proposal, and 100-word biographical statement to: Lin Young ( & Emily Rothwell ( by 5 February, 2018.


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