The Victorian Diversities Research Network

The origins of English Literature as an academic subject are rooted in Victorian nationalism and national pride. If we are to move beyond the colonial legacy that characterises nineteenth-century literary studies, we need a network of experts that can work together in the UK to undo neo-imperial cultures within the educational system and to represent the UK in wider debates. This research network, Victorian Diversities, aims to bring together teachers, leading scholars, academic colleagues, and students from previously disaggregated areas of study, such as Victorian literature, Romanticism, Critical Race Theory, Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Trans-imperial Studies, Periodical Studies, Indigenous Studies and Settler Colonial Studies. The network will then form the basis of a scholarly organisation that has two inter-related strands: pedagogies and methodologies. These strands will support teaching of historical writers of colour, engage with contemporary global scholarship on race and empire, and work with indigenous scholars and activists to produce new research on a diverse nineteenth century. This globalising of the long nineteenth century is long overdue, and Victorian Diversities aims to be a focal point for the work needed to achieve it.


The Victorian Diversities Research Network was founded to respond to a pressing need amongst UK academics for more support in answering the clarion call to diversify and decolonise the curriculum that rang out across the academy in North America, Europe, and the UK in response to the killing of George Floyd and the BLM protests in summer 2020. In collaboration with the Institute of English Studies, we held a launch event for the network on April 12th. ‘Diversifying Victorian Studies: From Theory to Method’ began as a roundtable discussion between Dr. Lara Atkin (University of Kent), Dr. Éadaoin Agnew (Kingston University), Dr. Kaori Nagai (University of Kent), Assoc. Prof. Ryan Fong (Kalamazoo University), Dr Emma Barnes (University of Salford) and Chloe Osbourne (Royal Holloway University of London). Discussion was animated and wide-ranging, with case-studies ranging from Ryan Fong’s experiences teaching Jane Eyre alongside nineteenth-century Native North American writings to Kaori Nagai’s proposition that the animal fable operates as a transnational genre that de-centres the European subject by centring non-European knowledge and non-human experience. A recording of the event and a resources page highlighting pedagogical projects and archives of non-European literature produced in the long nineteenth-century can be found here.


The next event will be a work in progress colloquium, to be held at the University of Kent on 9th August 2022, with support from the Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies, titled ‘Undisciplining, Widening and Diversifying Nineteenth-Century Studies’. The cfp for this event can be found here. In the future, we are hoping to build out this network in two complementary directions. We hope to create opportunities to collaborate with school teachers to co-create lesson plans and resource banks to embed antiracist pedagogy in the teaching of literature, race and empire across KS3, 4 and 5. we hope to build international collaborations with Native and Indigenous communities in order to gain their insights as to how the historical Native and Indigenous writings that appear in colonial archives and Euro-American libraries should be better promoted and taught across HE and secondary school settings here in the UK. For more information about this network and opportunities for collaboration, please contact Dr Lara Atkin ( and Dr Éadaoin Agnew (