At their best, electronic discussion groups function as informal, ongoing conferences, enabling scholars from around the world to exchange ideas and information about research, events, and teaching methods, or to engage in group readings of particular Victorian texts. Some of these work by distributing email from a central server (these are often called "lists"), while others use a bulletin-board format. Facebook now has a number of Victorian groups, including complementary Facebook sites for organizations like the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals and the British Associaton for Victorian Studies. And don't neglect Twitter! Many Victorianists and Victorian Studies societies and journals have a Twitter feed these days, and are a daily source of commentary, news, and links to new resources. Searching for words like "Victorian" in the upper-right corner of your Twitter homepage will turn up all sorts of interesting threads. Finally, the popular networking and cataloging site for bibliophiles, Library Thing, has a group devoted to Victorian books, although there are many other places on the site to discuss particular books and book-lists. Victorianists, then, have practically limitless opportunities to talk about the period and how they write, teach, and learn about it, from the largest and most inclusive email list--VICTORIA--to groups of various kinds devoted to particular authors, topics, and organizations.
Blogs by individual Victorianists typically feature ongoing commentary--daily, weekly, or as the mood strikes--about literary, historical, and pedagogical issues associated with Victorian culture, together with news items and links to resources and other discussions. Yet blogs are notable for their variety: some wander far afield from the period, while others use the format as a way of publishing texts or essays of interest; some blogs are intensely personal, others are like a succession of short conference papers. A blog usually allows a certain degree of interactivity with its author through the "comments" section beneath each posting.
Since 1993, VICTORIA has provided that beloved Victorian thing, a "cheap luxury," in the shape of a free electronic forum for the exchange of research ideas and queries, notices of recent books, conference listings, and lively discussion of a vast variety of issues, large and small, that bear on the study of "the long 19th century" (say, 1790 to 1914) in Britain. VICTORIA equally welcomes the contributions of students of literature, social history, politics, gender studies, publishing, art, and intellectual history.
There are literally thousands of discussion lists on every conceivable topic. The list of lists below connects you to some of the most helpful forums available to scholars interested in the 19th century. To subscribe to any of the Listserv(tm) lists, click on the address, leave the Subject line blank, and send a message of the form SUB listname, followed by your name. (Majordomo lists, as noted below, do not require you to add your name to the subscription command.) If a list has a webpage, it's a good idea to visit that page before subscribing, to find out more about how the list works and what topics are considered appropriate to it. With groups like Yahoo!Groups and Google Groups, you search for and subscribe to groups from the webpage.
Age of Victoria (Chris Fernandez-Packham)
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