The University of Virginia is proud to host the Thirty-First Annual British Women Writers Conference, from May 25 to 28, 2023. This year, our theme is Liberties. We encourage participants to reflect on the affordances and limits of this construct in terms of women’s writing of the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Please refer to the full Call For Papers here.

During the first three days of this event (May 25 to 27), we hope to have convivial and stimulating discussions about how we read, research, and teach women’s writing in its various literary-historical contexts and with an eye to the urgencies of the present. Highlights will include: three exciting keynotes, a plenary roundtable, and a series of workshops for graduate students and early-career academics that utilize UVA’s institutional strengths in archival studies, digital humanities, and more. We are also planning a fourth day (May 28) of optional day trips for interested guests to Montpelier and Lynchburg, where they may tour the historic homes of Dolley Madison and Anne Spencer — more to follow!

Situated as we are at Thomas Jefferson’s University, we are always conscious of the fraught record of liberty in the Anglo-American world. ‘Liberty’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries — for women, for the enslaved, for colonized subjects, and everyone at the intersections of these identities — was necessarily contested, partial, conditional. Our conference’s theme and poster design acknowledge the contradictions inherent in the liberationist rhetoric of Anglo-American women’s suffrage. As scholars of the humanities, we take seriously the responsibility of speaking and writing about difficult subjects. We hope the conversations initiated at this conference will be conducted in a spirit of critical nuance and continue thereafter to invigorate our scholarly practices.