CFP: Nineteenth-Century Works-in-Progress Workshops

Kevin Morrison's picture
Call for Papers
February 15, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, British History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Literature, South Asian History / Studies

The Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies ( is pleased to invite participation in six workshops to be held at its World Congress in Singapore, 19-22 June 2023 ( Led by scholars in literature, history, media studies, and art history, these workshops provide opportunities for graduate students, early career researchers, and established scholars to formally or informally discuss their work in a small-group setting. In some cases, workshops are also intended to facilitate collaboration on prospective edited collections or special issues of a journal. 


Empire, Climate, and Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century: Comparative Histories of China and ‘the West’
Adeline Johns-Putra (XJTLU)
The links between empire and climate are increasingly well established. From accounts of comparative record-keeping across the British colonies to studies of the Austro-Hungarian empire as an incubation space for modern climatology, it is clear that empire facilitated a growing understanding of climate that we now associate with Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment scientific method. Literary scholars have concurred, showing how a modern conception of the dynamics of climate underpins the realism of the late nineteenth-century novel. However, it may also be the case that the kind of climate knowledge thus maintained and legitimated was useful in shoring up European imperial authority in turn. To explore this alternative viewpoint, this workshop introduces a different model of empire. Imperial China boasts an unbroken tradition of record-keeping, including of climate, over three thousand years. In the Qing dynasty (1614-1912, meteorological data were drawn from all corners of China, such meticulous reporting allowing these Manchu emperors to exercise control over a Han population. Yet, such detailed record-keeping did not result in what the West would recognise as climate science; instead, traditional attitudes of ‘human-heaven induction’ (tian-ren ganying), according to which climatic events are an expression of heavenly pleasure or displeasure with imperial rule, continued to hold. Is the absence of nineteenth-century climate science in China a symptom of what historian Joseph Needham famously described as China never experiencing an Enlightenment (because, as Mark Elvin elaborates, it didn’t need to)? Or does such a question commit a (cultural-imperialist) error by assuming that there is only one kind of climate knowledge? And, if the great realist novels of European literature tend to confirm the Western impulse toward climate modelling, what insights does Qing literature offer us? Drawing on work-in-progress, published studies to provide context, and contributions from participants, this workshop attempts some preliminary answers to these questions. Please send a 250-word abstract of your work-in-progress together with your CV to by 15 February 2023.


Encounter, Race, and Representation: Painting Empire in the “Long” Nineteenth Century
Maria Taroutina (Yale-NUS College)
The establishment, maintenance, and subversion of empires during the “long” nineteenth century were mediated materially and imaginatively by multifarious forms of culture, and especially by the visual arts in all of their diverse manifestations. The present workshop invites papers that explore the ways in which artists, architects, designers, and photographers participated in the discursive matrices that advanced colonial machinery and systems of oppression on the one hand and critiqued and challenged them on the other. How did the visualization of individuals, communities, social types, fictive characters, artefacts, and landscapes reflect the complexities of the imperial experience? How did images shape imperial geographical and ethnographic knowledge on the one hand and complicate the political binaries and aspirations of empire on the other? How did the visual language of empire change over time and space and in what ways did artists from the so-called imperial outposts contest and revise their positionality as Europe’s colonial “others”? Finally, and most importantly, what should a decolonized history of art look like in the twenty-first century? Workshop participants will be invited to contribute short papers (3,000 words) on a topic of their choosing in line with the workshop theme. Papers will be precirculated ahead of the workshop and each participant will be asked to deliver a short, 10-minute presentation of their paper during the workshop. Papers should be in English and should focus on a particular visual medium or set of objects and the theoretical and methodological questions that they raise. Please send a 250-word abstract of your paper together with your CV to by 15 February 2023.


Decolonising Museum Collections? What’s In It for Origin Communities?
Leah Lui-Chivizhe (University of Technology, Sydney)
While decolonisation points to a specific world-historical moment most strongly tied to the disappearing of empire as a political form, it speaks also to the process of the stripping away of colonial power, language and knowledge in the systems and institutions that reified and sustained empire (see J C Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel, Decolonization: a short history). Described as ‘active tools of empire’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, museums venerated and endorsed ‘Eurocentric and racialised ideals and narratives’ that reflected the ‘disciplinary logic of the imperial state’ (see John Giblin, Imma Ramos, and Nikki Grout. "Dismantling the master’s house: thoughts on representing empire and decolonising museums and public spaces in practice an introduction." Third Text 33, no. 4-5 [2019]). Throughout the nineteenth century the ‘collecting’ of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the things they made and used was a thriving industry. Traded and circulated globally objects and Ancestors were displayed at international fairs and institutions of empire, framed as curiosities and evidence for the justification of genocidal practices, dispossession and racialised oppression of colonialism. In the 21st century our things sit silent in display cabinets and more often in storage or perhaps they are hidden away after the 1980s cultural turn foreshadowed their updated museum identities as secret/sacred objects. So, what can decolonisation mean for the things and Ancestors that were taken? What can it mean for the communities or places they once came from? In this workshop, nineteenth century collections of Torres Strait cultural material, natural history specimens and Ancestral remains will be the base from which we consider how decolonising practices in collector institutions can confront the past and benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and futures. Please send a 250-word expression of interest to by 15 February 2023.


The Indigenous Pacific in the Age of Colonialism
Joshua L. Reid (University of Washington)
Across the long nineteenth century, Indigenous peoples and places across the Pacific Ocean—inclusive of the islands and continental rim—encountered myriad colonial intrusions, pressures, and opportunities. Drawing from historian Nancy Shoemaker’s typology of twelve different forms of colonialism—see “A Typology of Colonialism,” Perspectives in History 53, no. 7 (Oct. 2015)—this workshop will examine how Indigenous peoples in the Pacific engaged with colonialism. Where did they push back against or facilitate—even support—various forms of colonial efforts and why? Did Indigenous peoples in the Pacific act in colonial ways, especially when we differentiate across the category of colonialism itself? When we center Indigenous peoples in the Pacific, do we see new forms of colonialism, new connections across Epeli Hau‘ofa’s “Sea of Islands” in this period, new examples of the Indigenous longue durée or Indigenous futures? This workshop seeks to draw an interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary collection of scholars interested in examining these topics and more, particularly as they intersect with the forms of colonialism identified by Shoemaker in 2015. Papers highlighting Indigenous agency are especially welcome. Short papers of around 3,000 words in length (due in mid-May 2023) will be pre-circulated and then workshopped during the three-hour session. The goal is to support works-in-progress that could lead to articles, chapters, or perhaps a special edition of a journal. Please send a 350-word abstract of your paper together with your CV to by 15 February 2023


Global Distribution of Popular Fiction: Forms of Circulation and Circulation of Forms
Graham Law (Waseda University)
In “How Histories Make Geographies: Circulation and Context in a Global Perspective” (The Future as Cultural Fact, 59-69), Arjun Appadurai suggests that, in contrast to the more complex cultural flows emerging under contemporary conditions of global diaspora and digital communication, the main generic forms linked to the imagined national community in an age of imperialism and colonialism, that is, novels and newspapers, tended to follow the “well-established circulatory paths and circuits of religion, migration, and trade”. Yet, with regard to the distribution of nineteenth-century popular fiction at least, a good deal of work remains to be done to clarify not only the dominant literary forms in circulation but also the specific routes that they travelled along. Around a decade ago, I rashly proposed to write a monograph presenting an overview of this territory, before quickly realising that no single scholar would be able to command the required linguistic skills or regional knowledge. This workshop at the first World Congress of the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies is intended to facilitate a more feasible approach, perhaps providing a platform to work towards a multi-authored collection of articles on the subject. Participants with research interests in this general area are invited to write short position papers of around 1,500 words that will be pre-circulated and form the basis of the discussion sessions at the Congress.Topics to be explored could include:
• developments at specific central and peripheral locations, whether global or regional
• relations between literary form and publishing format, particularly different modes of serialization
• aesthetic-psychological, socio-economic and political-ideological dimensions
• the roles of specific authors, publishers and readers (or producers, distributors and consumers)
Please send a 250-word abstract of your paper together with your CV to by 15 February 2023.


Empire and Imperial Identity: Royal Tours and Pageantry in the Long Nineteenth Century
Donna Brunero (National University of Singapore)
This workshop draws on the tradition of royal tours of the British Empire and jubilee events as a means to explore how the British Empire was presented and experienced in Asia. By focusing on the idea of the staging and reception of imperial events, this workshop explores how imperial rule was projected and presented through pageantry, parades and performances. Our workshop revisits David Cannadine’s Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire (2001) as a prompt to reflect on how scholarship on the visual and performative aspects of empire has evolved in the last two decades.
To provide a local dimension, case studies from Singapore, the ‘Liverpool of the East’, form the starting point for our workshop. Questions we might discuss include: where and how do we see indigenous communities (and rulers) in events celebrating empire? How might we read the official narratives and images produced to document royal tours and parades? And what of unofficial reception and response to such imperial pageantry? Can multiple perspectives across class, race, or gender provide new insights into the performance and reception of imperial power in Asia? And, is there value in taking a comparative approach? For surely as British royals toured empire, other European royals and Asian indigenous sovereigns and elites, also found mobility through maritime travel and tours. This workshop is open to all, but graduate students working on empire in Asia, comparative imperial histories and cultural histories of empires are particularly encouraged. Expressions of interest are welcome by providing a short overview of your current work in progress or research area (250 words). These overviews will be circulated to participants prior to the workshop. Please submit your expression of interest by 15 February 2023 to

The names of all workshop participants will appear in the congress program as presenters. Thus, all workshop participants must be members of the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies ( and pay applicable congress registration fees ( For general inquiries, please contact the SGNCS secretariat at

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