Victorian Animal Encounters

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
University of Portsmouth

Victorian Animal Encounters: A one day conference University of Portsmouth UK, 4 May 2018  Keynote speaker: Dr Jane Hamlett, Royal Holloway “I went to show my friend Pigott the grave of the illustrious Shelley. Approaching the resting-place of the divine poet in a bright sunlight, the finest black Tom you ever saw discovered at an incredible distance that a catanthropist had entered the cemetery—rushed up at a gallop with his tail at right-angles to his spine—turned over on his back with his four paws in the air, and said in the language of cats: ‘Shelley be hanged! Come and tickle me!’ I stooped and tickled him. We were both profoundly affected.” (Wilkie Collins, letter to his mother, 1866).

As part of the Victorian Animals collaboration between the University of Portsmouth, Liverpool John Moores University, and the Victorian Popular Fiction Association, and following the Victorian Animals study day at LJMU in November, we invite proposals for 20 minute papers on animals and animality in Victorian popular literature and culture.

Topics and approaches to Victorian representations of animals may include (but are not restricted to):

  • Gothic
  • Criminality/detection
  • Evolutionary/degenerationist discourse
  • Science Fiction
  • Children’s fiction and/or moral fables
  • Death, commemoration, and taxidermy
  • Theorising animals
  • Animal worlds
  • National and international, domestic and wild animals
  • Countryside animals – hunting, poaching and beyond
  • Household and working animals
  • Animals and disease
  • Contact zones, encounters, and inter-subjectivity
  • Exoticism and Empire
  • Medical ethics, sentience, and (anti)vivisection
  • Feeding (on) animals
  • Magic, the spiritualist and occultism
  • Zoos, menageries, circuses, and institutions
  • Victorian animals v Romantic animals
  • The periodical press
  • Animals in popular poetry
  • Text, art, and illustration
  • Disability Studies
  • Animals and gender, race, or ethnicity

Please send a 300-word proposal and a 50 word biography for 20 minute papers to the conference organisers by Wednesday 28th February 2018: Dr Christopher Pittard ( and Dr Joanne Knowles (