CfP: Elizabeth Gaskell Conference, Anglia Ruskin University

15 June 2023, Anglia Ruskin University and Online

Keynote Speaker: Dr Jo Carruthers, University of Lancaster

Deadline: Friday 14th April

When Elizabeth Gaskell wrote the oft quoted many ‘mes’ letter of 1850 to Eliza Fox, she was expressing a need to balance and harmonise the demands placed upon her. As well as wife, mother, author, Christian, Gaskell has been subjected to scrutiny as Dickens’s Scheherazade, Charlotte Bronte’s biographer, Florence Nightingale’s correspondent, amongst others.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘mes’ reflected both her frustration at being pigeonholed by her admirers and critics, but her letter also implies a pleasure at the many facets of herself. At this conference, we want to draw out Gaskell’s complexity both in her writing and in her own person – her relationship with her contemporary fame, and how her work, and characters now intersect with the twenty-first century. This discussion will begin a wider dialogue on how we read Victorian fiction in an ever-changing modern society, building a community of voices and ideas with this as our guide.

We are offering a hybrid conference experience so that those who wish to attend in-person can meet at our Cambridge campus, while also offering online attendance to widen the reach of what we believe will be an engaging and thoughtful discussion. For those who wish to attend in-person, we are offering a limited amount of travel bursaries for PGRs. 

The Conference will also feature a round table discussion on the relevance and challenges of teaching Victorian Literature within a 21st Century University setting.

We welcome abstracts for 10-minute papers that explore all facets of Gaskell’s canon and its relevance today. We invite papers from post-graduate and early career researchers from a wide variety of disciplines to engage with a writer that still has much to offer.  

Possible topics could include but should not be limited to:

  • Perceptions of gender in Gaskell’s writing;
  • Ecological readings including EcoGothic;
  • Gaskell and costume dramas;
  • Female travel in her fiction, letters and journalism;
  • Colonialism and representations of indigenous communities;
  • Literary Allusions – from/to;
  • Digital age implications for Gaskell Studies;
  • Elizabeth Gaskell and Queer Theories;
  • Gaskell and dissent.

Abstracts (250 words) and bios should be formatted in word and send to:

Alice Jackman at or Kathleen Gentle at

Please include your full name, discipline and institutional affiliation. 


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