Action, Inaction, and the Victorian Female

deadline for submissions: 
January 19, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Lydia Craig/NAVSA
contact email: 

Consider submitting a CFP for the following proposed panel “Action, Inaction, and the Victorian Female” to be held at the 2019 NAVSA (Theme: “Media. Genre. The Generic”) in Columbus, Ohio, 17-19 October.

This panel welcomes papers on any topic exploring how Victorian women engaged in activities explicitly forbidden to them in periodicals and print as inappropriate not only due to gender, but class position. Recent work by Kathryn Walchester on Victorian reactions to female climbing in the periodical press builds on earlier explorations of how women with the means and leisure to explore found their impulses for both work and play checked by the gender standards of their time period. In terms of labor, Kathryn Hughes has established how the allocation of nurturing, nursing, and educational labor to the feminine realm gradually enabled middle- and upper-class Victorian women to acquire more freedom through teaching and nursing, best exemplified by the famous Florence Nightingale. Among others, C. Parratt, Claire Langhamer, and Roberta J. Park have written on the gradual impact of girls’ schools, private sports pursuits, and the industrial revolution as increasing opportunities for female activity and employment across the social classes.

While ladies’ journals, conduct books, and literature sought to define roles for women, experiences of European and foreign travel, living outside of Great Britain, seeking educational opportunities, and novels advocating greater freedom for discontented heroines were all avenues through which a historical woman might first encounter, then seek or participate in “inappropriate” but alluring activities. Additionally, papers that examine how a Victorian woman’s privilege, access, social position, or utility function, compared to others differently situated, could enable or hinder specific activities will be gratefully received; historical as well as literary perspectives are encouraged.

This panel can be viewed on the NAVSA website: To submit: send a 250-word abstract and 1-pg CV to Lydia Craig (Loyola University Chicago) ( by the deadline. Applicants will be informed of decisions by 20 January 2019.