‘My Poor Devil’: Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth at 100

Conference to be held 20th November 2021

1921 saw the publication of a 19-year-old Georgette Heyer’s first novel The Black Moth. This tale of romantic highwayman, demonic rakes, abduction, ravishing beauties, betrayal and deceit set in the 18th century began a career which spanned over 50 years. Heyer published over 50 novels in a number of genres, including mystery, crime and historical, but is most famous for her romances and particularly her Regency Romances. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Queen of Regency Romance’, her influence in both creating and popularising the Regency Romance is undisputed, her works continue to be published and widely consumed to this day and she is a named influence on many writers. Known for her humour, complicated plots, delightful characters, attention to linguistic detail and historical research, there is much to both celebrate and explore in her work. Her legacy is not, of course, without its problems – the world she created has its limitations, its prejudices and its biases. This one-day online conference on 20th November 2021, will seek to explore Heyer’s work and her legacy with a spirit both of celebration and of critical enquiry.

The Black Moth - Wikipedia

We will be joined on the day by Keynote Speaker Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Best-Seller (2011) and Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (2010). We will also be joined by a panel of authors for a roundtable on ‘Queer Reimaginings of Georgette Heyer’. We will be joined for this panel by Rose Lerner, Zen Cho, Cat Sebastian, K J Charles and Olivia Waite all of whom write within a Regency setting including communities largely absent or vilified in Heyer’s work, including queer communities, people of colour, the working class and Jewish people. This roundtable will look at both the influence of Heyer and at the idea of moving beyond the ‘Heyer World’ to explore different aspects of Regency England through more or less fantastical settings!

We are looking for papers to be included on 3-person panels throughout the day. We accept panel submissions or individual papers. We strongly encourage work which engages in interdisciplinary study. The aim of the conference is to explore aspects of Heyer’s work encapsulated in or hinted at by her first novel The Black Moth.

There are two types of paper that we are looking for.

  1. There will be regular panels of 3 x 20-minute papers.
  2. There will also be a session of ‘Lightening talks’ lasting ten minutes. Lightening talks allow for a shorter exploration of a limited aspect of the novels, a more personal enquiry or the presentation of an experimental idea!

We particularly welcome contributions which explore the following topics (but welcome papers on any aspect of Heyer, her legacy or her interaction with history for consideration):

Readings of The Black Moth

Depictions of the rake in Heyer, in the 18th/19th century, in the romance

Explorations of masculinity in Heyer, in the period to the book’s setting

Marriage in Heyer

The figure of the highwayman

Intertextuality in Heyer

Rewriting in Heyer (with particular emphasis on the Black Moth/These Old Shades/Devil’s Cub ‘trilogy’)

Language in Heyer

Sexual Ethics in Heyer

Heyer and Comedy

Villainy in Heyer

Gambling in Heyer

Heyer and the depiction or understanding of Ireland

Influences on Heyer

The Gothic legacy in Heyer

Character archetypes in Heyer

Publishing Heyer

Heyer’s influence on other writers

The politics of Heyer’s novels

The development of the historical romance

Interdisciplinary papers on contemporary history, fashion, crime, literature, politics, gaming…

Please send a short biography (approx. 50 words) and an abstract (up to 250 words) to Dr Sam Hirst at Sam@romancingthegothic.com by 31st May 2021

Published by SamHirst

This started off as a story blog to share the little fictions that I like to write but it's turned into something a bit more Goth! I'm Dr Sam Hirst and I research the Gothic, theology and romance and at the moment I'm doing free Gothic classes online! We also have readalongs, watchalongs and reading groups. And I post fun little Gothic bits when I have the chance. Find me on twitter @RomGothSam

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