CFP: Neo-Victorian Madness

deadline for submissions: 
January 10, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Sarah E. Maier University of New Brunswick, Canada
contact email: 

Call for Papers: 


Neo-Victorian Madness 



Contributions are invited for an edited collection in the Neo-Victorian Series (Brill│Rodopi) on the theme of Neo-Victorian Madness. Sensational narratives of disturbed minds constitute a recurrent and prominent focus of neo-Victorian criticism, hearkening back to Jean Rhys’s 1966 publication of Wide Sargasso Sea and even earlier texts such as Marghanita Laski’s The Victorian Chaise-Longue (1953). Kate Mitchell has even referred to neo-Victorianism’s “compulsive reworking of nineteenth-century madness”, especially in relation to “criminality and deviance” (2015). Certainly, case studies, mad murderers, lunatic doctors, social dis/ease, asylums, and mentally disturbed individuals proliferate in neo-Victorian literature, drama and film. This volume will highlight the self-conscious re-visions, adaptations, and legacies of nineteenth-century discourses of madness and the latter’s continuing relevance to present-day concerns and socio-cultural debates about escalating mental health issues. Potential neo-Victorian novels for discussion may include Alias Grace (1996) by Margaret Atwood, A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003) by Libba Bray, The Alienist (1994) by Caleb Carr, The Meaning of Night (2006) by Michael Cox, The Crimson Petal and the White (2002) by Michael Faber, The Asylum (2013) by John Harwood, Mary Reilly (1990) by Valerie Martin, Fingersmith (2002) by Sarah Waters, and The Professor and the Madman (1998) by Sion Winchester, among others. This collection also welcomes contributions on transmedia and multi-media adaptations, including on graphic novels, such as From Hell (1999) by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, and on films and TV series, such as Stonehearst Asylum (2014), Penny Dreadful (2014-16), Alias Grace (2017) and The Alienist (2018). 


Topics of interest might include, but are not limited to the following: 


* Mental Illness or Health 

* Postpartum Depression 

* Hysteria and Body Dysmorphia 

* Lunacy and/or Lunacy Acts 

* Incarceration of the Mentally Ill, Asylums and Mad Doctors 

* Moral Insanity and/or Morality and the Insane 

* Criminal Insanity, Diminished Responsibility, and the M’Naghten Rule 

* Madness and Fantasy 

* Doubling, Psychoses, Obsessions and Delusions 

* Disturbed Children and Their Treatment 

* Spectral and/or Liminal Madness 

* Medicine and Monstrosity 

* Gender Conventions and Madness 

* Culture, Community and the Crazed 

* The Materiality of Madness 


Please send 500 words abstracts, and brief biographical details, to the editors, Sarah E. Maier at and Brenda Ayres at, by 10 January 2019. Successful contributors will be notified by 31 January 2019, with completed chapters due by 15 July 2019.