Zoom Series 2022-23: Victorian Promises

A Virtual Roundtable
Friday, 14 October 2022 10:00 AM Pacific Time

The long nineteenth century is often seen as a period when religion was in decline, challenged by scientific advance and rapid urbanization. Following the recent “religious turn” in the humanities, we interrogate the so-called secularization thesis by showing how new religious movements, occult trends, and even orthodox Christianity embraced scientific and social change. Conversely, new faiths like Spiritualism and Theosophy posed questions of interest to scientists and psychical researchers. Even late in the nineteenth century, world-weary Victorians saw promise and possibilities in religious faith. Taken together, these papers show that religion – itself a varied and internally unstable domain – remained in dynamic dialogue with a variety of scientific movements throughout this period, a process through which both religion and science were transformed.

View the handout as PDF (with link to Zoom)


“’The Devil is in the Details’: Oscar Wilde and Marie Corelli on Science and Religion” — Anne Stiles, Saint Louis University
“False Promises: Christian Science, Placebo, and the Defense of Modern Medicine” — L. Ashley Squires, Avila University
“’Genuinely human’: The Higher Criticism and the Sexual Body” — Joy Dixon, University of British Columbia


The Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States (VISAWUS) is a non-profit scholarly association founded in 1995 by Kathleen Peck to promote Victorian interdisciplinary studies. Our aim is to bring together scholars from across the disciplines with an interest in the Victorian period. Members include graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars with interests in Victorian literature, history, music, art, science, and medicine. We place a strong emphasis on mentoring junior faculty and graduate students.

Our annual conference invites faculty, graduate students, and independent scholars working on the long nineteenth century in Britain and within a broader transnational context to showcase the innovative work being performed in the field. The conference is known as a particularly generous site for networking and collaboration. The conference includes themed pedagogy roundtables where participants have the opportunity to discuss pedagogy with new and seasoned instructors and to get feedback on some aspect of their teaching (an assignment, an approach to the text, or a classroom activity).

Each year we award an exemplary graduate student presenter with the William H. Scheuerle Graduate Student Paper Award.

Information on our next conference is forthcoming.

Membership in VISAWUS is open to all who share an interest in its scholarship and goals. Membership includes a one-year subscription to Victorian Review.

The VISAWUS Constitution (PDF, 2016)