"Victorian Gothic and the Occult" Edited Collection

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Kirstin A. Mills (Macquarie University)
contact email: 

The Victorian era, and the Nineteenth Century more broadly, witnessed a flourishing of interest in the supernatural, spiritualism, magic, and the physical and psychological sciences, which culminated in the emergence of occult beliefs, practices and societies. During this period also, the Gothic literature and art that had taken hold of the public imagination in the Romantic period continued to haunt the Victorian era, emerging in new forms that often embraced and experimented with ideas of occultism. Nineteenth-century occultism has received much critical attention, particularly in relation to its role in bringing about the apogee of British and American occultism in the early twentieth century. Yet while occult phenomena is generally accepted within Gothic fiction alongside other supernatural elements like ghosts, witches and vampires, the particular relationship between the Victorian Gothic and the emerging occult beliefs and practices in this period requires closer attention.

This edited book, intended for the Palgrave Gothic series published by Palgrave/Springer, seeks to examine this relationship, exploring the lines of connection, influence and contention between the Gothic and Occult in the Victorian period. It aims to consider the ways that the Victorian Gothic was shaped by – and in turn perhaps influenced or stoked – occult beliefs and practices in the period. Chapters should aim to address the Gothic as a genre or mode in the Victorian period, exploring: how the Victorian interest in the occult augments, extends, updates or challenges the Gothic mode; the impact, if any, of the Gothic on the Victorian Occult, even as an avenue for deploying and experimenting with occult ideas; and the potential wider uses that the Victorian Gothic makes of occultism for social and/or political commentary.

This volume takes a broad temporal view of the Victorian period, beginning with its early-nineteenth-century origins as it moved out of the Romantic period, and ending with its transition into the early-twentieth-century art forms that both drew on and rebelled against their forbears. It also aims to consider Gothic occultism not only in Britain but also in its global manifestations, interrogating particularly the imperial and colonial forces shaping the genre’s development.

Possible topics include but are by no means limited to:

  • Spiritualism, Theosophy, Theology, Religion
  • Specific Occult Orders and Societies (e.g. Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; Society for Psychical Research; The Ghost Club; Freemasonry)
  • Ghosts, Mediums, Seances, Automatic Writing, Clairvoyance, Fortune-telling etc
  • Occult ‘sciences’ and pseudoscience, medicine, technology
  • Witches and witchcraft, Mages and magic, Alchemy, Astrology
  • Vampires, psychic vampires, werewolves and monsters
  • Arcane knowledge, philosophy, ‘secret’ or ‘lost’ texts
  • Raising the Dead, Life and Death boundaries
  • Victorian Occultism’s appropriation of and/or exchange with other cultures, e.g. Egyptian, Chinese, Indian etc
  • Race, imperialism and post-colonial narratives
  • Women and the occult (women authors, women occult figures, women in the occult, women characters, New Women)
  • Gothic Occultism as a space through which to explore alternatives to mainstream narratives e.g. class, gender, heterosexuality, monogamy, etc
  • The natural world, the environment, eco-Gothic/eco-horror
  • Art and visual culture
  • Aestheticism, Decadence, Fin-de-siecle Gothic
  • Crime and Occult Detective Gothic
  • Rural/Folk Gothic
  • Periodicals, magazines, popular fiction
  • Animals and the Occult
  • Space and Place

Please submit abstracts of c.500 words and brief (c. 100-words) biographies for consideration to Dr Kirstin Mills (Macquarie University) kirstin.mills@mq.edu.au by 31st December 2022. If accepted, completed articles are expected to be c.6000 words and will be due 31st October 2023. This volume is intended for the Palgrave Gothic series published by Palgrave/Springer.

Abstracts due: 31st December 2022

Completed articles due: 31st October 2023

Enquiries to: Dr Kirstin Mills (Macquarie University) – kirstin.mills@mq.edu.au