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The next meeting of the interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Research Group will be a group discussion on the Manifesto of the V21 Collective. This will take place in MB1012 at 5.15pm on Thurs 25th Feb.


The V21 Collective claims that ‘Victorian Studies has fallen prey to positivist historicism’, the symptoms of which include ‘a fetishization of the archival’. The group seeks to redefine Victorian Studies for the Twenty-First Century.

The V21 Manifesto has been controversial (see, for example, this response from Martin Hewitt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJP-8vG2ypk), so please do come along to discuss its merits and demerits. Refreshments will be provided to aid the smooth flow of debate.

If possible, please read this page beforehand, including the comments at the bottom: http://v21collective.org/manifesto-of-the-v21-collective-ten-theses/

We will print out copies of the Manifesto, so there’s no need to bring your own unless you really wish to do so.


At our next research seminar, on Thursday 28th Jan, Julia Podziewska (Sheffield Hallam) will talk to us on the topic of ‘Lost Property: Political Economy, Inheritance and Plot in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White and All the Year Round‘.

We are in room MB1012 (1st floor Minerva Building). There will be refreshments from 5pm and the paper will begin at 5.15pm. Please find Julia’s abstract below:



Inheritance plots proliferate in the mid-Victorian novel. Rare is the novel without a lost, hidden or destroyed last will and testament; a case of intestacy; a complicating codicil; or transfer by entail upset by the unexpected deaths of heirs apparent. Despite this plethora of post-mortem property plots, in recent decades it has been biological inheritance – the matter of heredity versus environment – that has held centre stage in scholarly debate (Gillian Beer, Darwin’s Plots, 1983; Jenny Bourne Taylor, In the Secret Theatre of Home, 1988). The inheritance of property has frequently been side-lined as little more than a plot device (Reed, Victorian Conventions, 1975); or its specificities have been occluded when it has been subsumed under the heading of women’s property issues more broadly. This has even been the case with the work of Wilkie Collins, whose canonised novels from the 1860s are each primarily structured by an inheritance plot.

This paper demonstrates that inheritance plots merit far more consideration. Reading The Woman in White in conjunction with All the Year Round, the second of Dickens’s magazines that Collins had written for, and the magazine in which the novel first appeared, serialised between Nov. 1859 and Aug. 1860, I gauge Collins’s preconceptions about his readers’ familiarity with inheritance law, show how his plots play with his readers’ awareness of property matters and argue that understanding the complexities of inheritance enables us to account for Collins’s famously dense, intricate plots. My paper further considers the appearance of life assurance as an alternative to inheritance, both as it features within the novel and as it appeared on the pages of the periodical press.

The paper closes with reference to the silence that surrounds inheritance and plot in general in Collins scholarship, advocating instead a critical practice that enables plot to be recognized as an historical form.

Dr Jane Darcy is talking at BGU on ‘Light & Shade: Contemporary Portraits of Tennyson’ on Thursday (26th Nov). Please click on the poster for further details:

Jane Darcy's poster

The Torch-page-001

Our next research seminar, on 19th November, will feature Pietro Dipaola (Lincoln, History and Heritage) speaking on ‘A transnational anarchist newspaper: The Torch (1891-96)’. Please note that we have changed rooms – we are now in MB1013. This is a change to the original programme. Refreshments will be served from 5pm and the paper will begin at 5.15pm.

Please find Pietro’s abstract and biography below:

While it is acknowledged as an original and influential journalistic and militant endeavour, the London-based anarchist paper The Torch remains poorly known. It will be examined here to gain insight into the development and functioning of the transnational militant press in the late nineteenth century and its interplay of militant and artistic contents. The paper will focus on The Torch’s editorial history, from its creation through to its heyday in 1894-95 and its disappearance in 1896. It will emphasise the role of informal networks of contributors and collaborators, which made this small and financial precarious venture a striking instance of the pre-WW1 globalisation of the political press. It will emphasise the publication’s specific ideological and generic stance, and in particular its juxtaposition of labour and anarchist militancy with intellectual and artistic bohemia; this was reflected in its staff, composed of literati who briefly dabbled in journalism (especially the paper’s well-to-do founders, Helen and Olivia Rossetti, with their prestigious artistic connections) with near-professional political journalists and militants. All these factors combined to make The Torch both an archetypal anarchist publication in formal terms, and a high-quality publication ranking among the most original and stimulating of the prolific anarchist movement in its golden age.

Pietro Di Paola is senior lecturer in History at the University of Lincoln. He obtained his PhD at Goldsmiths College, London. His interest focuses on the experience of anarchist exiles and the transnational history of anarchism. He is the author of The Knights-Errant of Anarchy. London and the Italian Anarchist Diaspora (1870-1914) (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013). His recent publications include: ‘The Game of the Goose. Italian Anarchism: Transnational, National, of Local Perspective?’ in B. Altena, C. Bantman, Reassessing the Transnational Turn. (London: Routledge, 2015). ‘’The man who knows his village': Colin Ward and Freedom Press.’, in C. Levy (ed.) Colin Ward. Life, Times and Thought (Lawrence & Wishart, 2014). ‘Marie Louise Berneri and Freedom Press’ in: Maria Luisa Berneri e l’anarchismo inglese (Biblioteca Panizzi, Archivio Berneri- Chessa, Reggio Emilia, 2013).

We are changing the rooms for subsequent sessions. The updated programme is below:



Thurs 19th Nov: Pietro Dipaola (Lincoln), ‘The Torch: A transnational anarchist newspaper’ (MB1013)


28th Jan: Julia Podziewska (Sheffield Hallam), ‘Wilkie Collins and the inheritance plot’ (MB1012)


25th Feb: Group discussion on the ‘Manifesto of the V21 Collective’ (MB1012)


Please read this page beforehand, including the comments at the bottom: http://v21collective.org/manifesto-of-the-v21-collective-ten-theses/


17th March: Lincoln PhD talk: Grace Harvey and Michelle Poland – Titles TBC (MB1012)


14th April: Sibylle Erle (Bishop Grosseteste), ‘War, Napoleon and the Panorama’ (MB1012)



Refreshments will be served at 5pm, and the paper (or discussion, where appropriate) will begin at 5.15pm.


MB is the Minerva Building – building number 1 on the map (click map to enlarge image).




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