CFP: “Life and Death in the 19th-Century Press” Ghent University, Belgium 10-11 July 2015

CALL FOR PAPERS: “Life and Death in the 19th-Century Press”

 Ghent University, Belgium

10-11 July 2015

Life and death dominate any culture, but especially Victorian culture. Not only was there an increase in population, Victorians also lived longer due to advancements in medicine, science and public health. This longer life went hand in hand with a fascination with death. Queen Victoria herself was obsessed with rituals of mourning, as were many other contemporaries who tried to grasp the afterlife via scientific, religious and/or spiritual modes of thinking. The press responded to this attraction with life and death: it published birth and death notices, advertised for funerals, mourning clothes and invigorating medicines and featured stories of murder, birth and eternal life.

This conference welcomes proposals for papers that address any aspect of nineteenth-century British magazines or newspapers. However, it will particularly encourage proposals on ‘Life and Death’ in the nineteenth-century press. Possible topics might include but are not limited to:

  • The lifecycle of periodicals, texts and authors: emergence, development, death, and afterlife of magazines and newspapers, as well as of specific texts and/or authors.
  • Genres dealing with life and death: biographies, obituaries, wills, necrologies, death notices, birth announcements, funeral advertisements.
  • Birth and death of methodologies in periodical studies
  • 19th-century views on life and death: spiritualism (e.g. séances, mediums, ghosts), rituals of mourning, religion, science or pseudo-science(e.g. Darwinism or phrenology, mesmerism), – animal life and zoology
  • 19th-century demographics: conditions determining life and death (public health, poverty, war), census research.
  • Life and death in poetry and prose: Elegies, obituary poems, in memoriams, ghost stories, stories of murder and death.
  • Life and death in visual culture: Victorian spirit photography, post-mortem photography, depictions of life and death in drawings and paintings.
  • Life and death in advertising: advertisements for food products, medicines, mourning clothes.
  • Spectacular births and deaths: royal births, multiple births, gruesome deaths, murder.

Please send a 300-word abstract and a short CV (1 page max) to The deadline for submissions is 1 February 2015.

RSVP offers a number of travel grants for graduate students and independent scholars. If you want to be considered for one of these grants indicate that you are a graduate student or independent scholar and wish to be considered for one of these awards on your abstract.

For information about the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, see the website

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