I suppose the persons interested in establishing a school of Art for workmen may in the main be divided into two classes, namely, first, those who chiefly desire to make the men happier, wiser and better; and secondly, those who desire them to produce better and more valuable work (John Ruskin).


The 2012 conference of the British Association for Victorian Studies will be held in Sheffield, the thriving heart of the Victorian Steel Industry. In 1875, on the outskirts of the city, John Ruskin established the Museum of St George, a collection of art objects and natural artefacts displayed for the aesthetic education of the city’s workers. Inspired by Ruskin, the theme of this year’s conference aims to explore the relationships between different kinds of value in the Victorian period, to return to the period’s central debates about how to measure, establish and uphold value in the emergent modernity of Victorian Britain, and to think about the representation and legacy of those values both in and beyond the field of Victorian Studies.

The representation and circulation of different kinds of currency 
Aesthetes in the marketplace 
Critical/cultural evaluation, from Ruskin and Arnold to Leavis and beyond 
The ethical turn in Victorian Studies 
Political economy and the art of government 
The transmission of value at home and abroad Value rewritten, from Woolf to Waters 
Domestic economy and the aesthetics of the home 
Ethical dilemmas, aesthetic solutions 
Value on display: collection and exhibition 
New economies, from Cobden to Carpenter 
Commodity culture and the value of ‘things’ 
Sincere characters: the ethics of self and text
Work ethics: Madox-Brown, Marx and Morris

Please send the title of your paper and an abstract of around 250 words to bavs2012@gmail.com by 31st March 2012