News and Events

News and Events

Forthcoming Events

Centre for the Novel Sandpit Session.

Wednesday 11th October 2023, 3pm-3.45, Lower Ground Seminar Room, Sir Duncan Rice Library.

A chance for individuals or representatives from other networks and centres to learn more about the Centre for the Novel, and about each other’s research, with a chance to discuss future events and possible collaborations. If you would like to attend, please email Helena Ifill at

Prof. Timothy Baker (University of Aberdeen) - ‘Towards a Queer Maritime Theology: Sex, God, and the Sea in Recent Neo-Victorian Fiction’


Wednesday 11th October 2023, 4pm, Lower Ground Seminar Room, Sir Duncan Rice Library 

Also online via Microsoft Teams. Please email Helena Ifill for the link.

A number of contemporary novelists have offered queer perspectives on the sea. The sea is not simply a setting for queer expression, but invites a broader thinking of relationality and boundaries. The connection between water and relationality is likewise apparent in contemporary theological perspectives. This paper examines how thinking of queerness, the sea, and relationality together, from both literary and theological perspectives, can illuminate ways in which contemporary novelists challenge traditional notions of God, nature, and history. Ian McGuire’s The North Water (2016) and Hannah Kent’s Devotion (2021) do not simply add to the body of neo-Victorian fiction that looks at globalisation and science in relation to oceanic travel by adding queer characters. This paper argues further that the novels illustrate theologian Jacob Erickson’s ‘fragile hunch that sexuality, ecology, and divinity are all intimately implicated in each other’. Examining these novels from a variety of perspectives, including queer theology, blue humanities scholarship, and contemporary ecocriticism reveals the capacity of contemporary historical fiction to think through and with important questions in contemporary theory, and reveal new forms of relation.

Please note, you can attend both or either events on the 11th, there will be a short break in between the two. There is no need to notify us that you are coming to the research seminar unless you want to attend online.


Centre for the Novel Reading Group

We choose books on a title-by-title basis. If you would like to attend future sessions or suggest a book for the reading group, please email or find us on twitter at @CentreNovel.

Previous texts include: Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Corner That Held Them;  Anon., The Woman of Colour; Tade Thompson, Rosewater; Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy; Kirstin Innes, Scabby Queen; Jenn Ashworth, Fell; Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other; Jon McGregor, Even the Dogs.

Past Projects and Events

  • 23rd September, 2023. Centre for the Novel Public Event, Liam McIlvanney. Part of WayWORD Festival.

  • 24th September 2022. Centre for the Novel Public Event, C.J. Cooke. Part of WayWORD Festival.

  • 12 May 2022. Research Seminar. Dr Will Tattersdill (University of Birmingham), 'Building Mesozoic Worlds: Science Fiction, Dinosaurs, and the Construction of Reality'. In association with the Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine. A recording of Dr Tattersdill's talk can be viewed here:

  • 21 March 2022. Centre for the Novel Annual Public Lecture, Prof. Tabitha Sparks (McGill University, Montreal), 'Women Writing Metafiction: 1853-1901'

  • 29-30 October 2021. Black Voices, Black Lives. A two-day series of events at the University of Aberdeen exploring the expression and articulation of black experience from different historical, cultural and creative perspectives. Leila Aboulela, 'Decolonising the Tragic Victorian Hero: A Fictional Recounting, from a Sudanese Perspective, or Gordon of Khartoum'; Maisha Wester, 'Black Voices Speaking Back'; Sophie White, 'Voices of the Enslaved: Silence and Eloquence'; panel discussion with all speakers. Co-hosted with WORD Centre for Creative Writing, supported by Creative Scotland and the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture. 

  • 26 September 2021. The Centre for the Novel Annual Public Lecture, Kirstin Innes & Outi Smith: Songs for a Scabby Queen

  • 17 March 2021. Reading group session (led by Dr Dan Wall) with author Kirstin Innes (discussing Scabby Queen).

  • November 2020. Being Human Festival online events: creative writing workshop Alternative Aberdeens in collaboration with WORD Centre for Creative Writing; Systems Theory with Emily De Simone; What does the Fox Say? with Grace Banks.

  • 25 September 2020. Centre for the Novel Annual Public Lecture: Prof. Jenn Ashworth (Lancaster University). Part of the WayWORD Festival.
  • 25 August 2020. Climate Change Fiction Group. Disaster! Victorian Narratives of Environmental Catastrophe. Online. Speakers: Steve Asselin (Brandon University); Ailise Bulfin (University College Dublin); Matthew Crofts (University of Hull)
  • Summer 2020. Online Lockdown reading groups. Literature in Translation, led by Prof. Andrew Gordon; Proust, led by Dr Áine Larkin; Climate Change Fiction, led by Dr Timothy Baker; Centre for the Novel, led by Helena Ifill.
  • 12 May 2020. Reading group session with author Jenn Ashworth (discussing Fell).
  • 13 November 2019. "Windows on Research”, Dr Áine Larkin, Dr Sarah Sharp and Dr Dan Wall.
  • 5 March 2019. Centre for the Novel Annual Lecture. Professor Deborah Denenholz Morse, College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia): 'Burning Art and Political Resistance: Anne Brontë’s Radical Imaginary of Wives, Enslaved People, and Animals in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)'.
  • 6-9 April 2017. 'An International Conference at the Centre for the Novel'. Plenary Speakers: Oliver Kohns, University of Luxembourg; Randall Stevenson, University of Edinburgh; Steven Trout, University of South Alabama.
  • May 2015. "Women, Science, Narrative: Writing Female Experience in a Scientific Age". Workshop, University of Aberdeen.
  • November 2014. 'Will Self in Conversation with Alexandra Lewis', Aberdeen's headline event for the UK's first Being Human Festival.
  • 16-19 July 2014. The Real Thing: Henry James and the Material World: Sixth International Conference of the Henry James Society.
  • 19 March 2014. Centre for the Novel Annual Lecture, Alan Spence, Zen and the Art of the Novel.
  • 11 October 2012. Centre for the Novel Annual Lecture, James Naughtie, 'An Age for Dickens?'
  • 08 November 2012. Michael Slater, 'An Attempt on the Life of Charles Dickens'.
  • 24 March 2012. Novel Approaches: A Workshop for Teachers of English.
  • May to November 2012. Dickens in 2012: A bicentenary programme of lectures, film screenings and performances.
  • 29 November 2011. Centre for the Novel Annual Lecture, Sophie Hannah. 
  • 15 May 2011. A conversation with Margaret Atwood at the Word Festival.
  • 19 Match 2011. Jane Austen Enters the Marketplace: A Bicentenary Celebration.
  • 20 April 2010. Centre for the Novel Annual Lecture, Janice Galloway.
  • 8-10 July 2008. The Novel and Its Borders, International Conference. Speakers: Terry Castle, Ian Duncan, and Jonathan Lamb.
  • 20 April 2009. Centre for the Novel Annual Lecture, Michele Roberts.
  • 18 March 2008. Centre for the Novel Annual Lecture, John Mullan.
  • 5 May 2007. Popular Dickens. Speakers: Malcolm Andrews, John Drew, Juliet John, Michael Slater, Grahame Smith.
  • 10 November 2006. Henry James and the Art of the Novel. Speakers: Philip Horne, Tessa Hadley, Oliver Herford, Matthew Rubery.