We have made the difficult decision to cancel our conference, Nineteenth-Century Formations. We initially considered relocating the conference off campus, but we have decided against that in light of the quickly changing situation. We also considered postponing the conference, but with no political solution from the government in sight, we do not know when the situation will deescalate. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience to all of you; this was a very difficult decision.

We still plan to hold a casual seminar/workshop for local participants on 6 December and for those who happen to be in the city. Please let us know if you would like to be involved. We will notify participants as soon a time and location has been determined.


This interdisciplinary conference asks participants to rethink the nineteenth century and its social, aesthetic, and discursive formations. It brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to consider the categories that inform and shape our various disciplinary approaches to the nineteenth century. In doing so, it invokes the term “formations” in a broad sense, to convey the processes by which concepts, categories, structures, systems, and institutions—many of which remain in place today—came into existence during this period.

We invite papers from scholars of the long nineteenth century from a range of fields: art history, Asian studies, China studies, East Asian studies, history, Hong Kong studies, literature, media studies, musicology, philosophy, theater studies, etc. Papers might consider the term “formation,” or they might problematize, historicize, or trace conceptual, aesthetic, or structural formations across or at any point in the nineteenth century. Papers can also interrogate the categories, concepts, forms, and structures we use today to make sense of the period, or reconsider the boundaries and periodization of fields, such as the “long nineteenth century” or Victorianism. By bringing together scholars from various backgrounds, the conference aims to start cross-disciplinary conversations that will shed new light on the nineteenth century and its legacies. The conference will also include a workshop for postgraduate students.

“Nineteenth-Century Formations” will take place in Hong Kong, a global city whose own history was indelibly shaped by the expansion of empires, trade, war, and migrations of the nineteenth century. It will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong and will include some outings into the city. Keynotes include Hidetaka Hirota, Associate Professor of History at Sophia University in Tokyo; and Grace Lavery, Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of California Berkeley.

Contributions can take the format of a classic 20-minute paper or a short 5-7 minute reflection on a concept, object, text, or image. Please send a 300-word abstract and a one-page CV to Julia Bowes at or Jessica R. Valdez by September 15, 2019. *Deadline Extended until September 20*

Topics might include (but are not limited to)

Capitalism, liberalism, democracy
Communications and media: the telegraph, railroad, newspaper, media
Eco-criticism, the environment, environmental history
Empires, nationalism, colonialism
Form, formalism, new formalism
Gender and Sexuality
Global and transnational frameworks
Nation, the state, the public
Nationalism and cosmopolitanism
New historicism, formalism, etc.
Novel, the bildungsroman, narrative
Race, ethnicity, indigeneity
Romantic, Victorian, neo-Victorian
Science, evolution, empiricism
Slavery and emancipation
Time, serial form, rhythm  
Urbanization, industrialization, migration