In The Buried Life of Things: How Objects Made History in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge, 2014), Simon Goldhill observes that the profusion of objects inhabiting a Victorian drawing room “speaks insistently not simply of a history of taste, but also of the interconnected forces of the industrial revolution, which changes the modes of the production of things, and the imperial project, which changes the modes of circulation of material objects and their owners”. This interdisciplinary conference on “Victorian Materialities” takes up the “material turn” in Victorian Studies to examine the cultural meanings and significance attached to material objects by contemporaries. It aims to explore how objects both produced and reflected Victorian culture. In an era in which the industrial revolution rapidly urbanised Britain and escalated the production and consumption of goods, “things” came to have an increasingly intimate, and sometimes porous, relationship with human experience since the material world was almost always open to self fashioning. A critical focus on material objects can reveal a wealth of information about their users. We invite papers that explore any aspect of Victorian material culture.

Possible topics include:
- The expansion of commodity culture and department stores
- The circulation of goods throughout the British Empire
- Colonialism and “portable property”
- Displays and practices of collecting
- The Great Exhibition
- Periodicals and advertising
- The book as material object
- Cosmetics, clothing and bodies
- Dirt, cleanliness, and sanitation
- The Victorian household and domestic objects
- Visual culture (photographs, paintings, illustrations)
- Representation of objects in literature
- The Victorians and industry
- Space, architecture and design
- Science and technology
- Material culture and gender
- Affect, emotion and sensation


AVSA 2017 conference
"Victorian Materialities" Deakin University Melbourne
14-16 July 2017

Deakin Downtown, Level 12, Tower 2
727 Collins Street

Keynote speaker:
Alexis Easle
y (University of St Thomas)

Draft programme
available here

Conference registration:
3-day rate
Concession: $250.00
Full: $300:00

Kristine Moruzi and Michelle Smith