Victorian Popular Fiction Association Study Day

The Threatened Child in Nineteenth-Century Popular Fiction and Culture

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Register for this event here


Thurs 19th Sept, 19.00: Walking Tour of Victorian Gothic Dublin (Dublin City centre, details to follow), followed by optional dinner at the Victorian Dublin restaurant Market Bar, 14A Fade St, Dublin 2, (housed in a 19th century market building)


Friday 20th Sept, Humanities Institute, University College Dublin (all talks take place in the second-floor seminar room).


9.00 – 9.20: Registration in lobby

9.20 – 9.30: Opening remarks by Ailise Bulfin and Leanne Waters


9.30 – 10.45: Keynote address and questions

Kathryn Hughes, University of East Anglia, ‘Sweet Fanny Adams: “Nothing, Vacuity”’ (glossary of WW1 Soldiers’ Slang)’

On a late summer’s day in 1867 eight year old Fanny Adams’ remains were discovered scattered over a Hampshire field.  In the next 150 years the child’s name would come to be shortened in popular culture to ‘Sweet FA’ meaning ‘nothing at all’ – and often something even ruder.  Fanny Adams, then, disappeared twice: once on a sultry afternoon in 1867, and subsequently in the endless re-telling, embellishment, reduction and appropriation of both her name and her brutalised body.


10.45 – 11.15: Coffee Break


11.15 – 12.45: Panel 1– Salvation and damnation

Nicholas Daly, University College Dublin, The Orphan Paintings of Augustus Edwin Mulready

Jen Baker, University of Warwick, ‘Abused Bodies and Tormented Souls: The Threat to Child Salvation in the Nineteenth Century’

Kath Beal, University of Hull, ‘Amelia Dyer – Baby Farmer and Murderer’


12.45 – 13.45: Lunch


13.45 – 15.15: Panel 2 – Children’s literature and poetry

Ryan S. Lopez, Texas State University, ‘Castles in the Air: The Victorian Princess and the Rescuing Imagination’

Wendy Mooney, American Institute of Foreign Study, ‘William Allingham’s “The Fairies” (1849) and the helplessness of Irish Victorian children’

Steve Nash, Leeds Beckett University, ‘“That’ll learn ye” – The Threatened Child as Didactic Device in the Sunday School Reward Tale’


15.15 – 15.45: Coffee Break


15.45 – 17.15: Panel 3 – Fin de siècle and beyond

Evander Ruthieri da Silva, Federal University of Parana (Brazil) and University of Exeter, ‘“Daring souls, lofty ambitions, impetuous natures”: the child as a threat in Bram Stoker’s The Dualitists (1887)’

Sharon Murphy, Dublin City University, ‘“[A] hungry, ragged, and forsaken little boy”: The Significance of the Street Arab in The Moonstone, The Sign of Four, and Kim

Jennifer Smith, University of Tennessee, ‘The Threatened Child, Shapeshifting, and Gender: Uncanny Bedfellows in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices Trilogy’


17.30 – 18.00: Roundtable on research collaboration and future developments


8.00: Conference dinnerChez Max, 1 Palace St, Dublin 2, Optional pre-dinner drinks in Victorian Dublin literary pub The Palace


With special thanks to the Victorian Popular Fiction Association, the UCD School of English, Drama and Film, the UCD Humanities Institute and the UCD Seed Funding Scheme.