Beyond Biofiction: Writers and Writing in Neo-Victorian Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
neo Victorian Studies
contact email: 

Beyond Biofiction: Writers and Writing in Neo-Victorian Fiction

Guest Editors: Armelle Parey and Charlotte Wadoux

2021/22 Special Issue of Neo-Victorian Studies (http://neovictorianstudies.com)

Despite the death of the author famously announced by Roland Barthes in 1967, real-life writers as characters, sometimes intermingling with their own creations, feature prominently in neo-Victorian fiction and other media. Besides reprising historical writers’ careers and exposing their secret, sometimes disreputable lives, these neo-Victorian biofictions also engage, self-consciously or implicitly, with changes in writing modes, genres, and narrative conventions over time and with the theorisation of both creative practice and life-writing. The same holds true of depictions of wholly imaginary, professional or aspiring literary scribes without specific historical antecedents. Simultaneously, neo-Victorian portrayals of writers highlight dubious inequalities between celebrity and marginalised literary figures, implicated in perpetuating biased canons as well as selective forms of cultural commemoration, often privileging the same, predominantly white male writers (Charles Dickens, Henry James, Alfred Lord Tennyson) as the most suitable subjects for rewrites, with even the Brontë sisters suffering from tokenism in comparison and writers of other races going almost entirely unrepresented. This special issue aims to explore neo-Victorian representations of writers and writing in biofiction and beyond from new and innovative angles. We are particularly interested in contributions that pursue the following enquiries: Which actual nineteenth-century writers and their works are reimagined, which are not, and what accounts for such policies of differential remembrance and forgetting? How are writers deliberately misrepresented, and what present-day agendas does such misremembering serve? What accounts for the persistent fascination with the writer figure, real or imagined, in an increasingly digital age, where the book almost seems destined to relegation to the museum and the realm of virtual objects? How do neo-Victorian concerns with writing engage metafictionally with neo-Victorianism’s own processes of writing – and reading – the Victorians today? What new approaches to and techniques of intertextuality can be discerned in neo-Victorian depictions of authorship? Possible topics may include, but need not be limited to, the following:

  • rethinking and reworking the ‘cultural capital’ of nineteenth-century writers
  • innovations in neo-Victorian biofictions of writers: new orientations
  • the differential canonisation and depreciation of author figures (in terms of race, ethnicity, class, (trans)gender, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness, etc.)
  • neo-Victorian metafictional engagements with processes of writerly production, reception, and consumption
  • immersive neo-Victorian encounters with author figures: writing, empathy and affect
  • engagements with theory and its contestation in neo-Victorian writer fictions

We especially invite contributions on neo-Victorian fictions and biofictions featuring Victorian writers that have not yet attracted significant critical attention, as well as on texts featuring period scenes of non-Western writers and writing.

Please address enquiries and expressions of interest to the guest editors Armelle Parey (armelle.parey@unicaen.fr) and Charlotte Wadoux (cwadoux@gmail.com). Abstracts/proposals of 250-300 words, with accompanying brief bio note, will be due by 15 September 2020. Completed articles will be due by 1 March 2021. Abstracts and articles in Word document format should be sent via email to both guest editors, with a copy to neovictorianstudies@swansea.ac.uk. Please consult the NVS website (‘Submission Guidelines’) for further guidance.