Special Issue 2013
Neo-Victorianism and feminism have been linked since the appearance of novels like Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) and John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969). Feminist theory has, furthermore, offered critics tools with which to understand and evaluate the tendency for neo-Victorian texts and media to rewrite women’s history or, simply, to write women (back) into history. Yet, as Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben have noted, “certain neo-Victorian perspectives – the nineteenth-century fallen woman, medium, or homosexual, for instance – have become rather over-used, tired, and hackneyed” (Neo-Victorian Tropes of Trauma, 23). Indeed, many neo-Victorian texts have followed in the footsteps of Rhys and Fowles in re-writing the story of the fallen woman or madwoman, and it remains to be seen if this impulse to redress the ignored histories of nineteenth-century women still has currency in the twenty-first century. Or has, rather, the repeated characterisation of these now standard figures ironically made them into clichés that reinforce unproductive stereotypes rather than giving voice to women as distinctive subjects?
This special issue of Neo-Victorian Studies will explore the relationship between feminism and neo-Victorian texts, objects, and media in the twenty-first century. Papers dealing with late-twentieth century texts will also be considered, but the issue will primarily address recent developments in neo-Victorianism, in an attempt to offer new ways in which to understand neo-Victorianism as a feminist discourse (or not). For instance, what figures have been obscured in the focus on the fallen or mad woman? How has the Victorian woman remained a figurehead for contemporary feminism? Can the neo-Victorian impulse be most clearly associated with second-wave, third-wave, or post-feminism? And what forms of feminist dialogues exist between neo-Victorian critics and authors?
Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:
- feminist characters in neo-Victorian literature and film
- the utility of feminist theory in reading neo-Victorian texts
- ‘ancestors’ of contemporary figurations of the fallen woman, madwoman, medium, etc.
- notions of time and history in relation to neo-Victorianism and feminism
- neo-Victorian understandings of the family and marriage
- TV/film adaptations of proto-feminist Victorian texts
- the performance of Victorian femininity in music, theatre, performance art, etc.
- intersections of queer theory and feminism in neo-Victorian fiction and criticism
- postcolonial discourse and representations of neo-Victorian womanhood
Please address enquiries and expressions of interest to the guest editors Tara MacDonald at T.C.MacDonald@uva.nl and Joyce Goggin at J.Goggin@uva.nl. Completed articles and/or creative pieces, along with a short biographical note, will be due by 28 February 2013 and should be sent via email to the guest editors, with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consult the NVS website (submission guidelines) for further guidance.