CFP: (Re)Reading John Addington Symonds

A BAVS-supported one-day conference at Keele University, Saturday 11 September 2010

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 18 June 2010

Plenary Speakers: Howard J. Booth (Manchester) and Hilary Fraser (Birkbeck)

Interest in John Addington Symonds has revived in recent years due to the 1984 publication of his Memoirs (edited by Phyllis Grosskurth), a unique and important record of Victorian homosexuality. He has since become an important figure for historians of sexuality and queer criticism. Despite this resurgence, Symonds has remained a marginalised figure; his participation across multiple academic and creative disciplines is largely excluded from the canon of nineteenth century cultural criticism. This has prompted John Pemble to write: ‘[Symonds’s contemporary readership] kept his reputation alive and most of his books in print until the 1930s; but his prestige faded as they aged and died off.’

Interest in Symonds has grown and diversified during the 2000s. This one-day conference will provide a forum within which to assimilate and evaluate this new and emerging work; it will offer a wide ranging re-assessment of Symonds, exploring his contribution to multiple disciplines and his significance for current fields of academic study.

Papers might address (but are not limited to):

  • Symonds and art/art history
  • Symonds and Hellenism
  • Symonds as ‘man of letters’; literary critic; historian; poet; essayist; translator
  • Symonds and nineteenth-century science; sexology; evolution
  • Symonds and life writing
  • Symonds and travel writing
  • Symonds in collaboration
  • Symonds and his contemporaries
  • Symonds and his critics/advocates
  • Symonds and publication; textuality; book history
  • Symonds’s reception, reputation and ‘afterlife’
  • Symonds and gender/sexuality

Abstracts for 15 to 20 minute papers (c. 250 words) should be emailed to by 18 June 2010.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to the conference organisers: David Amigoni ( and Amber K. Regis ( Further information is available on the conference website.


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