Neo-Victorian Decadences (CFP 31st May, Conference 8th-9th September)


Steampunk-style rendering of a Victorian era ship and clock A two-day academic conference running from 8th to 9th September aims to refocus Neo-Victorian studies by considering reinterpretations and representations of nineteenth-century decadence in works from the Interwar period to the present day. Neo-Victorian Decadences now invites proposals for papers, with a deadline of 31st May.

When Dorian in Will Self’s novel Dorian: An Imitation (2002) suggests that Henry Wotton is ‘too decadent’, in the latter’s rejoinder ‘to be contemporary is to be absolutely so.’ Decadence as a sensibility became self-conscious and acquired a definite character in the Victorian Fin de siècle. Due to its inherent contemporaneity and chameleonic modernity, it particularly lends itself to Neo-Victorian re-imaginings. Decadent narratives often obsess with phantasmagorias of history, yet they transcend the historical moment. Neo-Victorianism, then, emerges as much a reincarnation or aftereffect of Decadence, as Fin-de-siècle Decadence is revisited, reconfigured, recast and sampled in Neo-Victorian culture and scholarship.

From Susan Sontag’s ‘camp’ to the notorious Decadent Handbook for the Modern Libertine (2006), from manga renderings of fin-de-siècle themes to Gyles Brandreth’s Oscar Wilde’s murder mysteries, this interdisciplinary conference aims at investigating Neo-Victorian manifestations of Decadence. By looking at fiction, poetry, film, and other media from the Interwar period to the present day, this event hopes not only to expand our understanding of Decadence but interrogate and offer fresh insights into the nature of Neo-Victorianism itself.

Possible themes, approaches and topics might include:

  • Neo-Victorian Aestheticism
  • Global Neo-Decadences
  • Neo-Symbolisms
  • Cycles of history
  • Decay and degeneration
  • Parody and pastiche
  • Inter-mediality
  • Decadent steampunk
  • Wildeana
  • Beardsleyana
  • Huysmanian legacies
  • Sexuality and gender
  • London
  • Consuming the Decadents
  • Afterlives of the flaneur
  • Neo-Decadent fantasies

Neo-Victorian Decadences invites submissions for papers (15-20 minutes) in a wide range of fields, from literature to film, from sub-cultures to mass media, and everything in between. Abstracts of no more than 250 words will be accepted until May 31, 2017. Email neovictoriandecadences@gmail.com.

For further details see the conference website. This conference is co-organised by Dr Kostas Boyiopoulos (Durham University) and Joseph Thorne (Liverpool John Moores University). It is supported by Durham’s Department of English Studies and the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies.

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