The Aesthetics of Outdoor Spaces in the Victorian Period

Humanities, Literature & Arts (General)

One-day PGR Study Day at the University of Chester to explore the aesthetics of outdoor spaces during the Victorian period.  

This interdisciplinary study day will chart the changing social and cultural perceptions of the outdoors during the nineteenth century.  Dr Jude Piesse, of Liverpool John Moores University, will deliver the keynote lecture discussing Darwin’s lost childhood garden.

The recent restoration of a walled garden adjacent to the English Department’s Victorian building, which involved undergraduates, the gardening team, PGRs and staff, as well as two public study days, provides the inspiration for this event. (not sure if we need this paragraph)

The changing environment in which the Victorians found themselves was affected by the growth of industrial towns and cities, in response to this, green spaces became increasingly important, and the development of public parks in the 1840s and the popularity of suburban gardening and allotments took on considerable significance in many people’s lives. This Study Day will bring together researchers from the creative arts and humanities to explore ways that the lifestyles and environments altered in the Victorian period and consider ways in which early nineteenth century discourse around the environment affected people’s lives, Victorian art, literature and culture in general.

We welcome abstracts (of up to 350 words) for 20 minutes papers, along with a brief (100 word) biography, addressing areas relating to the aesthetics of outdoors spaces. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The representation of the garden as a space of solace and refuge 

  • Literary representations of green spaces as metaphors for the Edenic space

  • Representations of empire 

  • Women and the outdoor space

  • Gender and gardening

  • The interiority of the outdoor space

  • Outdoor spaces as communal settings

  • The language of flowers

  • Working class gardens

  • Green spaces and conflict

  • Changing public spaces

  • The industrial revolution and outdoor spaces

The aim of the Study Day is to encourage networking between Victorianists in different disciplines within the creative arts and humanities and to highlight the links between research currently being undertaken by PGRs. 

Applicants should send abstracts to by 1st February 2024.