Special Issue "Neo-Victorian Heterotopias"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2020) | Viewed by 17135

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marie-Luise Kohlke
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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
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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
E-Mail
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 semimonthly 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 (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Heterotopic and Neo-Victorian Affinities: Introducing the Special Issue on Neo-Victorian Heterotopias
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010008 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1293
Abstract
The introduction to this special issue on Neo-Victorian Heterotopias investigates the affinities between the spaces designated by Michel Foucault’s ambivalent and protean concept of ‘heterotopia’ and the similarly equivocal, shifting, and adaptable cultural phenomenon of ‘neo-Victorianism’. In both cases, cultural spaces and/or artefacts [...] Read more.
The introduction to this special issue on Neo-Victorian Heterotopias investigates the affinities between the spaces designated by Michel Foucault’s ambivalent and protean concept of ‘heterotopia’ and the similarly equivocal, shifting, and adaptable cultural phenomenon of ‘neo-Victorianism’. In both cases, cultural spaces and/or artefacts prove deeply intertwined with chronicity, at once juxtaposing and blending different temporal moments, past and present. Socially produced sites of distinct emplacement are exposed not just as culturally and historically contingent constructs, but simultaneously enable forms of resistance to the prevailing ideologies that call them into being. The fertile exercise of considering heterotopias and neo-Victorianism in conjunction opens up new explorations of the Long Nineteenth Century and its impact on today’s cultural imaginary, memory and identity politics, contestations of systemic historical iniquities, and engagements with forms of difference, non-normativity, and Otherness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)

Research

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Article
“The World Had Forgotten about Us”: Heterotopian Resistance in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting and Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010009 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1205
Abstract
This article explores how the different forms of heterotopias present in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (2008) and Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip (2006) articulate problematic identity politics and cultural memory. In Wanting, the collocation of Mathinna’s story with that of the lost Franklin expedition [...] Read more.
This article explores how the different forms of heterotopias present in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (2008) and Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip (2006) articulate problematic identity politics and cultural memory. In Wanting, the collocation of Mathinna’s story with that of the lost Franklin expedition offers a form of reclaiming. This article argues that Flanagan’s novel moves from heterotopias of deviation to a crisis heterotopia, displacing and debunking the compensation function of the colonial heterotopia to highlight the crushing of Aboriginal identity. This shifting heterotopia is doubled by Mathinna’s heterotopic carceral body, that is, body as confined space, which qualifies the act of reclaiming. In Mister Pip, heterotopias concern cultural memory as the island of Bougainville, secluded from the rest of the world, turns into the repository of the villagers’ culture juxtaposed with the reading of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations (1860–1861). This article argues that Jones’s creation of a palimpsestic heterotopia allows him to resist Eurocentric views as well as to actualize postcolonial concepts. Jones’s novel calls for a dynamic appropriation of literature. Matilda’s ‘Pacific version’ of Pip’s story reflects the cracks in the Victorian and contemporary exploitations of the island. Readers’ immersions in these heterotopias do not provide an escape from but a thoughtful commitment to the past. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
Young Adult Crisis Heterotopias and Feminist Revisions in Colleen Gleason’s Stoker and Holmes Series
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010016 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1263
Abstract
In this article, we investigate neo-Victorian YA fiction’s efforts to mirror twenty-first-century feminist ideals in nineteenth-century spaces through examining the role of heterotopia in Colleen Gleason’s Stoker and Holmes series (2013–2019). We first consider how the novels’ steampunk elements figure in Gleason’s feminist [...] Read more.
In this article, we investigate neo-Victorian YA fiction’s efforts to mirror twenty-first-century feminist ideals in nineteenth-century spaces through examining the role of heterotopia in Colleen Gleason’s Stoker and Holmes series (2013–2019). We first consider how the novels’ steampunk elements figure in Gleason’s feminist framing of neo-Victorian London, particularly in terms of common heterotopias—primarily the garden and the museum—that the protagonists briefly navigate over the course of the series. Second, we explore how the series’ three female protagonists each occupy spaces that function as pseudo—“heterotopias of crisis”—that is, while each of them claims space within which to subvert expectations of women, these spaces and the activities they support are themselves fundamentally insular and yield no socio-cultural critique. Finally, we consider how the spaces created and occupied by the books’ villain, known as the Ankh, serve as heterotopias. We find that the fact that the only truly heterotopic spaces in the novels belong to the villain, whose transgressive deviance the series frames as a bridge too far, illustrates how disappointingly limited neo-Victorian YA can be in its ability to offer subversive mirrors to twenty-first-century feminism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
Heterotopic Proliferation in E. S. Thomson’s Jem Flockhart Series
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010015 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1331
Abstract
This article explores the convergence, inversion, and collapse of heterotopic spaces in E. S. Thomson’s neo-Victorian Jem Flockhart series about a cross-dressing female apothecary in mid-nineteenth-century London. The eponymous first-person narrator becomes embroiled in the detection of horrific murder cases, with the action [...] Read more.
This article explores the convergence, inversion, and collapse of heterotopic spaces in E. S. Thomson’s neo-Victorian Jem Flockhart series about a cross-dressing female apothecary in mid-nineteenth-century London. The eponymous first-person narrator becomes embroiled in the detection of horrific murder cases, with the action traversing a wide range of Michel Foucault’s exemplary Other spaces, including hospitals, graveyards, brothels, prisons, asylums, and colonies, with the series substituting the garden for Foucault’s ship as the paradigmatic heterotopia. These myriad juxtaposed sites, which facilitate divergence from societal norms while seemingly sequestering forms of alterity and resistance, repeatedly merge into one another in Thomson’s novels, destabilising distinct kinds of heterotopias and heterotopic functions. Jem’s doubled queerness as a cross-dressing lesbian beloved by their Watsonean side-kick, the junior architect William Quartermain, complicates the protagonist’s role in helping readers negotiate the re-imagined Victorian metropolis and its unequal power structures. Simultaneously defending/reaffirming and contesting/subverting the status quo, Jem’s body itself becomes a microcosmic heterotopia, problematising the elision of agency in Foucault’s conceptualisation of the term. The proliferation of heterotopias in Thomson’s series suggests that neo-Victorian fiction reconfigures the nineteenth century into a vast network of confining, contested, and liberating Other spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
Their Own Devices: Steampunk Airships as Heterotopias of Crisis and Deviance
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010014 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1653
Abstract
Michel Foucault uses a sailing vessel as the exemplar of his theory of heterotopia because of its mobility. The lateral and vertical mobility of the steampunk airship indicates the potential for an even greater exemplar of heterotopia, particularly of Foucault’s defining principles of [...] Read more.
Michel Foucault uses a sailing vessel as the exemplar of his theory of heterotopia because of its mobility. The lateral and vertical mobility of the steampunk airship indicates the potential for an even greater exemplar of heterotopia, particularly of Foucault’s defining principles of heterotopic crisis and deviance. These principles are explored onboard the steampunk airships of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy and Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, resulting in travel towards progressive social frontiers of gender and race. The protagonists of the Leviathan trilogy move from a position of crisis to deviance, as mediated through the friendship and romance of two representatives of warring factions. In contrast, the heroine of the Finishing School series moves from deviance to crisis as she navigates the vagaries of gender and racial identity. These airship heterotopias of young adult fiction, which not only descend geographically but also socially, cross liminal crisis spaces of class, race, gender, and identity to craft literary cartographies for these social frontiers, providing readers with literary maps for their uncertain real worlds of crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
Heterotopian Disorientation: Intersectionality in William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010013 - 13 Jan 2022
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Abstract
This article reads William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth (2016) through the lens of Michel Foucault’s concept of the heterotopia to explore the film’s ambivalent gender and racial politics. The country house that Katherine Lester is locked away in forms a quasi-heterotopia, mediated through a [...] Read more.
This article reads William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth (2016) through the lens of Michel Foucault’s concept of the heterotopia to explore the film’s ambivalent gender and racial politics. The country house that Katherine Lester is locked away in forms a quasi-heterotopia, mediated through a disorienting cinematography of incarceration. Although she manages to transgress the ideological boundaries surrounding her, she simultaneously contributes to the oppression of her Black housemaid, Anna. On the one hand, the film suggests that the coercive space of the colony—another Foucauldian heterotopia—may threaten white hegemony: While Mr Lester’s Black, illegitimate son Teddy almost manages to claim his inheritance and, hence, contest the racialised master/servant relationship of the country house, Anna’s voice threatens to cause Katherine’s downfall. On the other hand, through eventually denying Anna’s and Teddy’s agency, Lady Macbeth exposes the pervasiveness of intersectional forms of oppression that are at play in both Victorian and twenty-first-century Britain. The constant spatial disorientation that the film produces, this article suggests, not only identifies blind spots in Foucault’s writings on heterotopian space as far as intersectionality is concerned, but also speaks to white privilege as a vital concern of both twenty-first-century feminism and neo-Victorian criticism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
Heterotopic Heritage in Hong Kong: Tai Kwun and Neo-Victorian Carceral Space
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010012 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1922
Abstract
The prison is specifically identified by Michel Foucault in his essay, ‘Of Other Spaces’ (1967), as an exemplar of “heterotopias of deviation”. Reified in neo-Victorian production as a hegemonic space to be resisted, within which illicit desire, feminist politics, and alternate narratives, for [...] Read more.
The prison is specifically identified by Michel Foucault in his essay, ‘Of Other Spaces’ (1967), as an exemplar of “heterotopias of deviation”. Reified in neo-Victorian production as a hegemonic space to be resisted, within which illicit desire, feminist politics, and alternate narratives, for example, flourish under harsh panoptic conditions, the prison nonetheless emerges as a counter-site to both nineteenth-century and contemporary social life. This article investigates the neo-Victorian prison museum that embodies several of Foucault’s heterotopic principles and traits from heterochronia to the dynamics of illusion, compensation/exclusion and inclusion that structure the relationship of heterotopic space to all space. Specifically, I explore the heritage site of the Central Police Station compound in Hong Kong, recently transformed into “Tai Kwun: the Centre for Heritage and the Arts”. Tai Kwun (“Big Station” in Cantonese) combines Victorian and contemporary architecture, carceral space, contemporary art, and postcolonial history to herald the transformation of Hong Kong into an international arts hub. Tai Kwun is an impressive example of neo-Victorian adaptive reuse, but its current status as a former prison, art museum, and heritage space complicates the celebratory aspects of heterotopia as counter-site. Instead, Tai Kwun’s spatial, historical, and financial arrangements emphasize the challenges that tourism, government funding, heritage, and the art industry pose for Foucault’s original definition of heterotopia and our conception of the politics of neo-Victorianism in the present. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
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Article
Neo-Victorianism as a Cemetery: Heterotopia and Heterochronia in Tracy Chevalier’s Falling Angels and Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010011 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1318
Abstract
This article examines the nature of neo-Victorianism as a heterotopia and heterochronia, that is, situatedness where the relationship between the past and the present is paradoxically concurrent and palimpsestic. This is done via a discussion of the cemetery as a governing metaphor to [...] Read more.
This article examines the nature of neo-Victorianism as a heterotopia and heterochronia, that is, situatedness where the relationship between the past and the present is paradoxically concurrent and palimpsestic. This is done via a discussion of the cemetery as a governing metaphor to describe neo-Victorianism, as it is a highly heterotopic and heterochronic space. A hauntological approach is applied to interpret the attempt to bury the spectre of Victorianism in Michel de Certeau’s “scriptural tombs” as the main project of neo-Victorianism. Two neo-Victorian novels, Tracy Chevalier’s Falling Angels (2001) and Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry (2009), are selected as illustrations of this phenomenon, as they both focus on Highgate Cemetery in London as a key element of their narratives. Both these texts show that neo-Victorianism, conceptualised as a cemetery, is a heterotopic and heterochronic archive of the spectres that rarely stay buried in their narrative tombs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
From Crisis to Compensation: Reinventing Identity and Place in the Sideshow and the Laboratory
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010010 - 13 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1172
Abstract
Examining the ambivalent place of the sideshow and the laboratory within Victorian culture and its reimaginings, this essay explores the contradiction between the narratively orchestrating role and peripheral location of the sideshow in Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels (2015) and the laboratory in [...] Read more.
Examining the ambivalent place of the sideshow and the laboratory within Victorian culture and its reimaginings, this essay explores the contradiction between the narratively orchestrating role and peripheral location of the sideshow in Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels (2015) and the laboratory in NBC’s Dracula (2013–2014), reading these neo-Victorian spaces as heterotopias, relational places simultaneously belonging to and excluded from the dominant social order. These spaces’ impacts on individual identity illustrate this uneasy relationship. Both the sideshow and the laboratory constitute sites of resignification, emerging as “crisis heterotopias” or sites of passage: in Parry’s novel, the sideshow allows the Church twins to embrace their unique identities, surpassing the limitations of their physical resemblance; in Dracula, laboratory experiments reverse Dracula’s undead condition. Effecting reinvention, these spaces reconfigure the characters’ senses of belonging, propelling them to places beyond their confines, and thus projecting the latter’s heterotopic qualities onto the city. Potentially harmful, yet opening up urban space to include identities which are considered aberrant, these relocations envision the city as a “heterotopia of compensation”: an alternative, possibly idealized, space that reifies the sideshow’s and the laboratory’s attempts to achieve greater extroversion and visibility for their liminal occupants, thus fostering neo-Victorianism’s outreach efforts to support the disempowered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
Heterotopic Potential of Darkness: Exploration and Experimentation of Queer Space in Sarah Waters’s Neo-Victorian Trilogy
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010005 - 25 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1530
Abstract
This article argues that darkness contributes to the creation of, and expands the concept of, heterotopias. In Sarah Waters’s neo-Victorian trilogy, consisting of Tipping the Velvet (1998), Affinity (1999), and Fingersmith (2002), her characters utilize darkness as their queer heterotopic space in order [...] Read more.
This article argues that darkness contributes to the creation of, and expands the concept of, heterotopias. In Sarah Waters’s neo-Victorian trilogy, consisting of Tipping the Velvet (1998), Affinity (1999), and Fingersmith (2002), her characters utilize darkness as their queer heterotopic space in order to call into question dominant heteronormative ideologies. Darkness plays an important role at the inception of the characters’ romantic relationships by facilitating space that allows their non-normative feelings to be expressed, thereby bringing queer desire to the forefront of each narrative. Darkness is a critical factor that renders a space heterotopic, as it blurs the boundary between heteronormative and queer, hence allowing transgression of the characters within Waters’s novels. Within queer heterotopic space created out of the darkness, there is a confluence of opposing values that enables the characters to examine the possibility of transcending heteronormativity and envisioning queer futures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1615
Abstract
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)
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