Aestheticism and Decadence in the Age of Modernism: 1895 to 1945
17-18 April 2015
Institute of English Studies, Senate House, London.
Call For Papers
This interdisciplinary conference intends to open discussions about the meaning and significance of Aestheticism and Decadence as these movements evolved between 1895 and the mid-twentieth century. Aestheticism and Decadence were not vanquished with Wilde’s imprisonment but, rather, continued as vital and diverse forms in twentieth century aesthetics and culture. Their influence was in some cases openly acknowledged by the authors in question, but often it was oblique and obscured as many later writers, most famously the High Modernists, eschewed any admissions of such a debt.
This conference considers Aestheticism and Decadence from three main angles:
1) the continuing evolution, diversification and internationalisation of Aestheticist and Decadent ideas and forms;
2) how writers, artists, critics, musicians engaged with the figures and ideas of nineteenth century Aestheticism and Decadence.
3) the production of the ‘Yellow Nineties’ and the posthumous representation of Decadent and Aestheticist writers, particularly Wilde and Pater, in memoir, biography and literary criticism
We encourage proposals that address these Aestheticist and Decadent afterlives in the context of their cultural, political and social moments, and which engage with the problematics of these terms.
Subjects might include but are not limited to:
- Decadents and Aesthetes publishing after 1895 (e.g. Machen, Beerbohm, Lee)
- Decadents and Aesthetes who refashioned themselves and are now considered Modernists (e.g. Yeats)
- The concept of ‘art for art’s sake’ in post-1895 literature and art
- The cultural and artistic legacies of fin de siècle decadence in ‘Modernist’ works
- Reappraisals of Decadent tensions such as deviant sensuality and ‘reserve’
- The Decadent/Aesthetic individual in the modern city
- Decadent tropes and characters in the ‘middle-brow’ novel
- Reworkings of Decadent literary forms
- Decadence/Aestheticism on film/in photography
- Decadence/Aestheticism in Music
- Critiques and denunciations of nineteenth century Aestheticism/Decadence
- The influence of and engagement with Aestheticism/Decadence in non-Western cultures
- Decadence/Aestheticism in the United States
- The presentation of Decadents/Aesthetes in monuments, biographies, histories, memoirs.
Writers who could be explored within these contexts are legion, but some notable cases include:
- Arthur Symons
- Max Beerbohm
- Arthur Machen
- Victor Plarr
- Ernest Rhys
- Ronald Firbank
- W.B. Yeats
- Thomas Sturge Moore
- Vernon Lee
- T.S. Eliot
- Ezra Pound
- James Joyce
- Edith Wharton
- Evelyn Waugh
- Cyril Connolly
- Ford Madox Ford
- Virginia Woolf
- Christopher Isherwood
- John Betjeman
- Carl Van Vechten
- Ben Hecht
- James Huneker
Please send Abstracts of 250 words with a short bionote to Dr. Kate Hext & Dr. Alex Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org by the 30th of November 2014.