Bronte Studies - The Brontes and Material Culture

deadline for submissions: 
May 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Bronte Studies

Call for papers – Brontë Studies special issue on Material Culture


Inspired by the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s new exhibition  Defying Expectations: Inside Charlotte Brontë’s Wardrobe (2022), Brontë Studies is inviting papers for a special issue on the Brontës and material culture. The exhibition, co-created with historical consultant Dr Eleanor Houghton, features more than twenty pieces of Charlotte’s clothing and accessories, and offers intimate insight into both her domestic and literary lives. 

Material culture is a broad term covering all aspects of the material world, and material culture studies seeks to understand societies, both past and present, through careful study and observation of the physical or material objects generated by those societies (including clothing and textiles, household goods, buildings, books, periodicals, photographs, paintings, ornaments, etc.). Studying the physical objects of a culture gives us a better understanding of and appreciation for the complex lives of the people who interacted with those objects. 

Deborah Lutz’s 2015 book The Brontë Cabinet is a brilliant example of this approach – she illuminates the complex and fascinating lives of the Brontës through the things that they wore, stitched, wrote on, and inscribed. In this spirit, we invite papers that explore and analyse the material culture of the Brontës. The papers may examine, but need not be limited to, the subjects listed below:

  • Women as consumers and the culture of consumption
  • The Victorian home and domesticity
  • Archiving material culture
  • The Empire and commodities
  • Representation of objects in literature
  • Material culture and friendship
  • Clothing and jewellery
  • Items owned by the Brontës 

Brontë Studies is interested in cohering a range of perspectives on the Brontës and material culture. Please feel free to propose an article that does not cover the areas outlined above. 

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to the Editor, Dr Sarah Fanning by 15th May 2022. The selection process will begin after this date. Authors will be notified of the outcome of their submission by June.