Last month, we had the pleasure of hosting another From Queen Anne to Queen Victoria conference. It was our eighth such event, but also, in some ways, the first.
It was the first conference organised by us as a research group. For many years, we had been a bunch of academics working at the Institute of English Studies that were united by a shared passion for 18th– and/or 19th-century studies and their rewritings. Over the last 18 months, we grew into a team integrating seasoned scholars and postgraduate students, no longer affiliated solely with the University of Warsaw (more about us here).
It was the first conference organised after a break, as our biennial cycle that started in 2007 was interrupted by the pandemic. In 2021, we conducted a survey asking the participants of previous conferences, many of whom became our friends over the years, whether we should organise an online event or wait for an opportunity to meet onsite. 80% of them chose the latter.
It was also the first conference organised around a specific theme. To celebrate the fact that we could see each other in person after such a challenging period, we invited contributions revolving around Body | Mind | Spirituality – though, as always, any paper within the broad QAQV time frame was welcome. The response to the call for papers exceeded our expectations. While the selection of panels was wide, the choice as to which to attend was at times very hard.
Last, but not least, it was the first conference organised in a new venue. The Institute of English Studies moved to a new location at 55 Dobra Street in September 2022, which necessitated us blazing new paths through the organisational and sometimes bureaucratic maze. All in all, it was worth it – from the pre-conference meet-and-greet on Tuesday evening to the post-conference leftovers lunch on Friday.
As always, insightful papers and engaging Q&A sessions created space for animated discussions. Special thanks are due to our keynote speakers, aka our Fabulous Four: Prof. Mary Jacobus, Prof. Patricia Pulham, Prof. Nathalie Vanfasse, and Dr. Chris Louttit, whose thought-provoking plenary lectures triggered many conversations, also over coffee.
As an academic-slash-fan (or “aca-fan” for short) of adaptations, my personal highlights included the sessions unpacking afterlives and re-imaginings of texts and figures (Re/Membering, Adapting Bodies & Texts), including the closing keynote on Seeing the Nineteenth-Century Novel through New Eyes that I had the pleasure of chairing. I myself presented as part of the Criminal Bodies panel, and while my talk outlined the Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper narrative network, my colleague offered a reading of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde that surprised some (see the full programme here).
QAQV 8 may belong to the past, but organising this conference proved extremely rewarding. I am convinced that meeting old friends and making new ones will translate into many fascinating projects and fruitful collaborations. The latter will include another volume in our post-conference book series, which, just like the conference, will be the eighth, but also, in some ways, the first.