About RSVP

girl_readingThe Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, familiarly known as RSVP, is an interdisciplinary and international association of scholars dedicated to the exploration of the richly diverse world of the 19th-century press, both its magazines and its newspapers. Members of RSVP are involved in the study of British literature, and the history and culture of Britain and its empire, as well as in the emerging fields of book history and media history.

For over 50 years, RSVP’s distinguished journal, the Victorian Periodicals Review, has carried articles, reviews, and research guides on a wide-ranging variety of topics. Through VPR as well as through its lively and collegial annual conference, the Society aims to stimulate the study and discussion of the roles played by the Victorian press and its proprietors, editors, illustrators, publishers, authors, and readers in shaping 19th-century culture.

RSVP Leadership

The following officers, board members, appointed positions, and senior advisory council constitute RSVP’s leadership, as outlined by the Society’s Constitution and Bylaws.


Jennifer Phegley
Professor and Chair, Department of English
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Term ends: 2022

Vice President
Fionnuala Dillane
Associate Professor, School of English, Drama and Film
University College Dublin
Term ends: 2022

Iain Crawford
Professor, Department of English
Director, UD Undergraduate Research Program
University of Delaware
Term ends: 2022

Recording Secretary
April Patrick
University Director of Honors Program
Assistant Professor of Literature
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Term ends: 2022

Board of Directors

    • Paul Fyfe (term ends: 2021)
    • Mary Elizabeth Leighton (term ends: 2021)
    • Kristine Moruzi (term ends: 2021)
    • Jim Mussell (term ends: 2021)
    • Troy Bassett (term ends: 2022)
    • Clare Clarke (term ends 2022)
    • Lindsy Lawrence (term ends 2022)
    • Beth Palmer (term ends 2022)


Appointed Positions

Editor of Victorian Periodicals Review
Katherine Malone
Associate Professor of English
South Dakota State University

Editor of The Curran Index
Gary Simons

Sigrid Cordell
University of Michigan

Online Applications Administrator
Natalie Houston
Associate Professor of English
University of Massachusetts – Lowell

Student Representatives
Matt Poland
Ph.D. Candidate, English & Textual Studies
University of Washington

Tamara Kaminsky
Ph.D. Candidate
University of Exeter

Webmaster and Social Media Coordinator
Kaari Newman
Ph.D. Student
University of Delaware

Marketing Coordinator

Senior Advisory CouncilBrook Street ragged school, The Work Room

    • Margaret Beetham
    • Laurel Brake
    • Julie Codell
    • Marysa Demoor
    • Maria Frawley
    • Richard Fulton
    • Linda K. Hughes
    • Anne Humpherys
    • Christopher Kent
    • Patrick Leary
    • Brian Maidment
    • Robert Patten
    • Joanne Shattock
    • Joel Weiner


RSVP was founded in December of 1968 at the Modern Language Association conference in New York by an interdisciplinary group of scholars led by Michael Wolff, who became its first president. Most of its founding members belonged to the informal scholarly collective engaged in research for Walter Houghton’s Wellesley Index of Victorian Periodicals and were eager to give a permanent organizational embodiment to the intellectual energy and enthusiasm generated by that remarkable project.

The 1960s witnessed an enormous upsurge of interest in interdisciplinary scholarship, particularly in the area of Victorian Studies. The vast range and number of Victorian periodicals was being recognized as an ideal resource for such scholarship since there existed periodicals touching on virtually every conceivable aspect of Victorian life. RSVP’s official publication,Victorian Periodicals Review, in fact came into existence even before RSVP itself. Commencing as the Victorian Periodicals Newsletter, the first number appeared in January of 1968 under the founding editorship of Michael Wolff. The journal began as a sort of intellectual clearinghouse for information, ideas, and projects relating to Victorian periodicals and evolved with the development of the interdisciplinary studies it represented into its present form. Its present title was adopted in 1978.

For an excellent, detailed account of the founding of both VPR and RSVP, see N. Merrill Distad, “The Origins and History of Victorian Periodicals Review, 1954-84.” Victorian Periodicals Review 18.3 (Fall 1985), 86-98 [PDF].

RSVP’s presidents from its founding have been:

    • Michael Wolff (1969-1973)
    • Josef Altholz (1973-1975)
    • William Scheuerle (1975-1977)
    • Scott Bennett (1977-1981)
    • Rosemary Van Arsdel (1981-1983)
    • Joel Wiener (1983-1985)
    • Merrill Distad (1985-1987)
    • Sally Mitchell (1987-1989)
    • Richard Fulton (1989-1991)
    • Penny Kanner (1991-1993)
    • Christopher Dahl (1993-1995)
    • Barbara Quinn Schmidt (1995-1997)
    • Linda Hughes (1997-1999)
    • Julie Codell (1999-2001)
    • Christopher Kent (2001-2003)
    • Laurel Brake (2003-2005)
    • Anne Humpherys (2005-2007)
    • Maria Frawley (2007-2009)
    • Patrick Leary (2009-2013)
    • Joanne Shattock (2013-2016)
    • Brian Maidment (2016-2018)
    • Natalie Houston (2018-2020)