Adapting Print Genres for the Victorian Stage

deadline for submissions: 
March 27, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
The Comparative Drama Conference
contact email: 

"Adapting Print Genres for the Victorian Stage" will consider how British plays within the Victorian era (1837-1901) interacted with and responded to news stories, social movements, or cultural debates appearing in print genres, including newspapers, the periodical press, and literature. Often, a theatrical adaptation of a popular novel appeared even before its serialization had concluded, as in the case of Charles Dickens's 1839 novel Nicholas Nickleby, which appeared on 19 November 1838 at the Adelphi Theatre, adapted by Edward Stirling, a mere eight numbers into its serialization. Playwrights commonly explored sensational urban myths or legal cases, as in the cases of The String of Pearls; or, The Fiend of Fleet Street (1847) by George Dibdin Pitt, which claimed to be based on the “actual” story of murderous barber Sweeney Todd, and Edmund Falconer’s Woman; or, Love Against the World, inspired by the Yelverton Marriage case (1861). What elements from printed source material did the Victorian playwright utilize, heighten, or discard in light of theatrical conventions or in the interests of time and visual engagement? What might Victorian audiences have expected to see on the stage after reading an adaptation's source material? Submissions should consider the unique cultural impact exerted on the nineteenth-century theatrical public by adaptations of contemporary events, stories, and debates. 

Optimistically, this panel will take place at the 44th Comparative Drama Conference in Orlando, FL from 14-16 October 2021. However, there will also be an option for virtual readings of presentations for those unable to attend the conference in person. Abstracts of no more than 250 words for a paper 15 minutes in length should include 1) each panelist’s paper title, 2) author’s name, 3) institutional affiliation, 4) status, 5) postal address and 6) email address at top left and be emailed to Lydia Craig at by the deadline. More information is provided on the conference website, which will be periodically updated: