Special Issue "Neo-Victorian Heterotopias"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marie-Luise Kohlke
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, Swansea University, Swansea SA28PP, Wales, UK
Interests: neo-Victorianism; trauma narratives & trauma theory; gender; conflict & memory studies
Prof. Elizabeth Ho
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of English, University of Hong Kong, 7/F Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
Interests: neo-Victorian studies; global literatures in English; postcolonial theory & fiction; geo-humanities
Dr. Akira Suwa
Guest Editor
Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Toin University of Yokohama, Kurogane-cho 1614, Aoba-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 225-8503 Japan
Interests: neo-Victorianism; Sarah Waters; contemporary women’s writing; adaptation studies; queer studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The ‘spatial turn’ in neo-Victorian studies has gained increasing recent critical traction: in postcolonial re-readings of the nineteenth century in the present, in examinations of global neo-Victoriana, and in the focus on recurrent sites of difference deployed in neo-Victorian texts, such as asylums, brothels, prisons, and libraries, to name only a few. This special issue marks a significant development in the theorisation of such spatial configurations, by specifically exploring neo-Victorian representations of heterotopias and their role in both cultural memory and the cultural imaginary of the period.

Michel Foucault’s radical re-readings of nineteenth-century history and sexuality, in particular, have greatly influenced neo-Victorian studies’ critical approach to the contemporary fascination with the literature, arts, and culture of this particular past time, which is still so much with us. In this special issue, we invite scholars to reconsider Foucault’s ambiguous, often contradictory concept of heterotopia in relation to the volatility of neo-Victorian spaces. In his seminal essay, ‘Des Espace Autres’ (1967, translated as ‘Of Other Spaces’ in 1984), Foucault defined heterotopias as actual spaces of difference or otherness within the dominant social order, as “counter sites” to imaginary utopias, in that heterotopias form part of the reality they reflect even as they contest and invert the same. These sites range from “crisis heterotopias” (such as boarding schools or military academies) for subjects undergoing critical periods of transition, and “heterotopias of deviation” (such as penal institutions or hospitals) designed to contain and segregate designated aberrance, to heterotopias of “illusion” and “compensation” (such as séance rooms, music halls, and ships), which respectively expose the “messy” contradictions of human life and construct ideal spaces for alternative forms of subjectivity and intersubjective engagement. Hence the utopian as well as dystopian nature of heterotopic spaces always emerges in dialectic with the varied challenges such sites pose to established laws, norms, and expectations.  

Using Foucault’s principles of heterotopia as a starting point, this special issue invites papers that examine how neo-Victorian writers, filmmakers, and artists reconstruct nineteenth-century environments as particular kinds of heterotopia, the ideological aims that underlie such projects, and the strategic effects produced by heterotopic space in neo-Victorian media. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • heterotopia and the neo-Victorian ‘spatial turn’
  • mobility, shifting heterotopias, and fluid identities/subjectivities
  • heterotopian facilitations of gender and/or racial subversion
  • the neo-Victorian politicisation of heterotopic space
  • postcolonial heterotopias as spaces of resistance
  • heterotopia and affect
  • categories of neo-Victorian heterotopias and their differential uses
  • complicit and/or non-oppositional heterotopic spaces
  • heterotopia and neo-Victorian postmodernism
  • heterotopian futurism and utopian connections
  • heterotopia and neo-Victorian steampunk and/or fantasy
  • nineteenth-century material culture, heritage, and heterotopia

Please send 250-300 word proposals to the Guest Editors Marie-Luise Kohlke and Elizabeth Ho and the Assistant Guest Editor Akira Suwa at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] by 30 June 2019. Contributors will be advised of the editorial team’s decision by 15 August 2019, with articles due by 15 February 2020. (To take account of the UK REF, this special issue is planned for publication in early 2021.)

Dr. Marie-Luise Kohlke
Prof. Elizabeth Ho
Dr. Akira Suwa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (1 paper)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:


Re-Calibrating Steampunk London: Heterotopia and Spatial Imaginaries in Assassins Creed: Syndicate and The Order 1886
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10010056 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 699
Video games have become important but understudied narrative media, which link into as well as perpetuate popular forms of cultural memory. They evoke and mediate space (or the illusion thereof) in unique ways, literally putting into play Doreen Massey’s theory of space as [...] Read more.
Video games have become important but understudied narrative media, which link into as well as perpetuate popular forms of cultural memory. They evoke and mediate space (or the illusion thereof) in unique ways, literally putting into play Doreen Massey’s theory of space as being produced through a multiplicity of trajectories. I examine how Assassins Creed: Syndicate and The Order 1886 (both 2015) configure a neo-Victorian London as a simulated, spatio-temporal imaginary in which urban texture becomes a readable storytelling device in and of itself, and interrogate how their neo-Victorian heterotopias are mediated through a spatial experience. Both games conjure up imaginaries of steampunk London as a counter-site sourced from and commenting on the Victorian city of memory. Through retro-speculation, they re-calibrate neo-Victorian London as a playground offering alternative forms of agency and adventure or as cyberpunk-infused hyper-city. In so doing, they invite the player to re-evaluate, through their spatial experience in such a heterotopic steampunk London, shared imaginaries of ‘the city’ and ‘the Victorian’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Back to TopTop