Michael Wolff

It is with enormous sorrow that we announce the death of Michael Wolff. He was of course a founding figure of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, and a crucial figure in the successful development of the Society over the past fifty years. His commitment to what is now Victorian Periodicals Review has been a major factor in the journal’s success. Beyond the Society, he has been a visionary and effective presence in the field of Victorian Studies more widely. His work with Jim Dyos on the magisterial volumes of The Victorian City  (1973), for example, gave direction and inspiration to a whole generation of cross disciplinary scholars working at a time when Victorian Studies was still finding its way. He has also been a consistent presence within theVICTORIA discussion list throughout its long history.

There will be many future occasions when we will want to mark and celebrate Michael’s work and his long association with the Society, and this short announcement is not the place to begin to do so. I feel his loss personally – I first met Michael in Leicester over forty years ago, and his quirky and occasionally mischievous support and advice throughout my career has meant much to me. I am sure that I was not the only young scholar who benefited from his kindness, knowledge and wisdom over the years. He will be much missed.

Brian Maidment
President, RSVP.

Call for Papers – Special Issue of Victorian Periodicals Review: “The Material Culture of Victorian Domestic Life and the Press”

Guest Editor, Julie Codell

The Victorian press actively shaped Victorians’ notions of domestic life around several topics: material culture, architecture, interior design, and the gendering of domestic space. Deborah Cohen’s Household Gods (2009) and Thad Logan’s The Victorian Parlour (2006) both articulate a critical analysis of Victorian domestic life joined with material culture studies to go beyond the stereotypes of cluttered rooms and gendered “separate” spaces. Recently Jane Hamlett’s Material Relations (2010) continues the exploration of how people lived at home through a study of their material goods. Scholars such as John Potvin have explored interior design in relation to orientalism, sexual orientation, and modernity in a flood of now well-established material culture studies sparked by Daniel Miller, Judith Attfield, and others. In addition to the many coffee table books on Victorian interiors and furnishings are new readings of Victorian authors Isabella Beeton, Charles Eastlake, and Mary Eliza Haweis on domestic taste and furnishings, as well as a neo-Victorian fascination with Victorian design, food, cooking culture, and household management.

Despite this literature, there are still many understudied areas in the periodical press:

  • working-class domestic lives,
  • rural home decoration and furnishing in relation to urban design and furnishings,
  • the ways Britons recreated British domestic life in the colonies,
  • prescriptions of family roles,
  • the home as both private and public,
  • the changing role of the manor house in the development of national cultural identity,
  • the physical organization of domestic space,
  • changes in laws, aesthetics, and gender and class relations (e.g., the 1882 Married Women’s Property Act, the 1870 Education Act, Aestheticism, the department store, the New Woman) that introduced new objects, designs, family relations, gender roles and spatial structures in the home,
  • advertising and illustrations of furnishings and the material page.

This list is not meant to restrict but to suggest topics. This CFP seeks to elicit essays on the press’s role in the production of domestic life as an ideal and a set of practices functioning across class and the geography of Britain and the colonies. We encourage authors to address the texture of conflicting views on how to conduct and represent domestic life within individual periodicals and across periodicals that contained different ideologies, intentions, and readerships. We welcome proposals on the structures and spaces of domestic life examined and prescribed in a range of periodicals—the women’s press, architecture journals, general periodicals, the art press and other specialized or trade periodicals.

Please submit a 300-word abstract outlining your proposed contribution by December 1, 2016, to julie.codell@asu.edu. Final drafts of essays selected for inclusion in the special issue will be due July 1, 2017. These essays should be 5,000–9,000 words in length (including notes and bibliography) and should be formatted in Chicago style.

North West Victorian Print Culture Network Meeting

The fourth meeting of the North West Victorian Print Culture Network will take place on Wednesday November 23rd. between 1-30 and 5-30 in the Aldham Robarts Library at Liverpool John Moores University. Confirmed speakers include Peter Blake (Brighton) on G. A. Sala, Clare Horrocks (Liverpool John Moores), Kim Edwards- Keates (Bolton) and Nick Foggo (Liverpool) on his Liverpool Newspaper project. All are welcome. For programme and further details contact Brian Maidment.

Call for Papers – RSVP 2017


We are delighted to announce that the call for papers is now open for our next conference Borders and Border Crossings (website link to follow). The conference will take place at Freiburg University, Germany, 27th – 29th July 2017.

Call for Papers

Victorians reached out not only to rule the world but even more so to explore it in travel, scientific endeavour or in search of new experiences. Victorian periodicals reported on these experiences, and gave advice or warnings. As the 2017 conference is taking place in the border country of Germany, Switzerland and France, its special interest will be on borders and border crossings. Though geographically part of Europe, Britain has always seen the continent very much as ‘beyond’ its borders and travels to the continent, as much as travel around the globe, as a form of ‘border crossing’. Papers might explore engagements with the continent as explorations of a culturally superior or fascinating as well as repelling or perhaps threatening foreign ‘other’ and in connection with national self-perceptions as much as attempts to understand other cultures. Of particular interest for this conference are:

  • explorations of the European continent in travel reports,
  • historical accounts,
  • discussion of political systems,
  • report on revolutions (f. ex. in France, Germany, Italy),
  • war correspondence,
  • descriptions of national character,
  • the continent as location in fiction,
  • engagement with continental literature,
  • fine arts and music,
  • experiences of continentals in Britain,
  • fashion reviews,
  • visual depictions of the continent,
  • reports on royal houses
  • comparisons between Britain, Europe and other continents
  • American/European relations and American views of Europe in periodicals

Papers might also address

  • gender boundaries and their transgression
  • genre borders and border crossings (within periodicals as well as between periodicals and other media)
  • contacts and exchanges between British and foreign periodicals.

The programme committee invites proposals for a special session on women’s history and Victorian periodicals in memory of Sally Mitchell, a longstanding member of RSVP and pioneer in this field.

Suggestions for papers of a more general nature will also be considered.

RSVP is an interdisciplinary and international organization welcoming all scholars interested in the richly diverse world of the 19th-century British press. Please send a proposal (250 words maximum) and a short CV (no more than 200 words) to rs4vp2017@gmail.com by 31st January 2017. Individual presentations should be fifteen to twenty minutes, and proposals for panels of three are welcome. Please include a brief rationale for the panel along with an abstract and CV for each presenter.

Of particular interest to graduates – A limited number of travel grants will be awarded to graduate students; please indicate in your email if you would like to be considered for one of these grants.


Prof. Dr. Barbara Korte, Dr. Stefanie Lethbridge. Both lecturers at the English department of Freiburg University.