British Association of Victorian Studies conference in the Midlands

The annual British Association of Victorian Studies (BAVS) conference was held at the University of Birmingham last month, 1-3 September.

Dr Richard Fallon delivering a talk to attendees at the BAVS conference.

Dr Richard Fallon delivering a talk to attendees at the BAVS conference.

The conference, led by Rebecca Mitchell, Professor in Victorian Literature and Culture and Fariha Shaikh, Senior Lecturer in Victorian Literature saw over 200 delegates from Universities and the cultural heritage sector contribute to a rich and diverse programme of academic and social activity. This year’s conference was the first to be held in person since the COVID19 pandemic.

Attendees were given the opportunity to tour the Lapworth Museum of Geology, the Barber Institute of Fine arts, and Winterbourne House and Garden, as well as attend an opera ‘Veritable Michael’ on the story of Michael Field, Victorian poets. With an inter-disciplinary focus, papers were delivered from across several academic disciplines including art history, cultural studies, history, law, literary studies, performance studies and the history of science. Engaging a large international audience with speakers and attendees from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, the UK, and the US.

Emily Vincent, Doctoral Researcher in English Literature said: “The BAVS Conference 2022 was my first BAVS conference and it was an insightful, busy, and incredibly rewarding opportunity to present my PhD research, network with experts in the field, and learn first-hand what it takes to organise and deliver a large-scale academic conference. The timing of BAVS was especially valuable for my PhD thesis and public speaking skills as I approach my imminent PhD submission and viva. I shared a panel on ‘Anxious and Haunted Expressions of Child Loss’ with talented and supportive academics whose research I regularly refer to, Dr Jen Baker and Dr Krissie West. I delivered a twenty-minute paper derived from my PhD thesis and the panel’s Q&A session helped me to think through thoughts and challenges to ideas presented.”

Dr Richard Fallon, Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow said: “BAVS is always a pleasure, but this year I was particularly thrilled to share my work with Victorianists after several years without a physical conference. I enjoyed hearing diverse opinions about the future of the field across the three days and filled my notebook with reading suggestions that will, I hope, sharpen my own research. Every panel I attended was fascinating and encouraging – powerful evidence of the interdisciplinary nature of Victorian Studies.”

Rebecca Mitchell, Professor in Victorian Literature and Culture said: “After two years of covid delays, it was a genuine delight to share our rich local nineteenth-century resources with scholars from the largest Victorian studies association in Britain. Three days of engaging research across the discipline demonstrated the range and vitality of Victorian studies today.”

Founded in 2000, the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) is a multidisciplinary organisation dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge about the Victorian period. It has over 600 members based in the UK and beyond. Drawn both from the academic community and the public. Its 2023 conference will be hosted by the University of Surrey.