According to VICTORIA's policy statement, the list provides "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". And the members of the list actively post messages fulfilling the mission of the list.
Members often post comments relating to specific literary texts of the nineteenth-century; within their messages they may cite passages which they found particularly difficult, request critical interpretations of these literary texts, or offer sources they found help illuminate the text. Members answering these calls for information offer advice and interpretation in a non-condescending manner. In July of 1996, a member asked the list if someone could recommended a good scholarly text on Norse influences in nineteenth-century literature to help her understand a certain author's texts. Within hours, she received numerous posts from members offering citations of works which they found useful in this specific area, as well as works she might wish to avoid as they were found unhelpful.
In addition, often a member working in a specialized area will post a call for examples of a particular literary character type or situation. These posts almost always elicit entertaining and informative responses. Recently, a member posted a request for examples of "inferior husbands," or men partnered with "morally and intellectually superior" women. This request quickly started a running dialogue with other list members in which not only examples of a variety of literary texts were offered but lively discussion on the appropriate definition of an "inferior husband." In turn, another discussion, this one on "superior" husbands, promptly began; again members offered examples from literary texts as well as possible definitions of the phenomenon.
Although these types of posts do make up a healthy portion of the list's total messages, the majority of the posts refer to topics which inform readers' understanding of Victorian social, political, or economic life. Members post requests for information or particularly useful scholarly sources which inform them on the daily lives of the Victorians.
Members often post questions on the origins of terms commonly used in the Victorian Era. One member inquired in a post the origins of the phrase "Christian name;" another wondered what exactly a "tussie mussie," a term he encountered in a literary work, was. These members were quickly and politely given answers which, of course, prompted new musings and definitions of these terms. In almost every case, respondents cited scholarly works the questioner could use to find further information on the subject.
In addition to inquiries on terms and objects used during this time period, members post questions about the practices and belief systems of the Victorians. Some fascinating threads discussed Anglican dons and celibacy, religious fundamentalism, and Darwin's ideology. And lest anyone suspect the Victorians were a staid, boring group of individuals, members have also discussed Lewis Carroll's nudes, Victorian "dope," and Victorian "openmindedness."
Interspersed among these dialogues are calls for papers, announcements of new or exciting television programs relating to the Victorian Era, and information on upcoming additions to favorite web sites devoted to Victorian study.
All the messages posted on VICTORIA from 1993 to the present are archived and searchable on the VICTORIA: Electronic Conference Archives.
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