Decadent Poetics
Centre for Victorian Studies,  University of Exeter, UK  –  1-2 July 2011
Deadline for proposals: 10 November 2010

Keynote speakers: Stephen Arata (Virginia), Joseph Bristow (UCLA),  Regenia Gagnier (Exeter), Catherine Maxwell (Queen Mary, London)
The initial reception of ‘decadent’ writing in both France and England was characterized by a focus on form and the importance of the poets of the late Roman Empire. From Theophile Gautier’s Preface to the 1868 edition of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal to Arthur Symons’s ‘The Decadent Movement in Literature’ and Paul Borget’s famous delineation of decadent writing attempts to articulate a ‘decadent poetics’ were central to the definition of this new literature. Yet in recent years our understanding of decadence has been occluded by the focus on cultural politics and sexual transgression, which continue to dominate academic criticism of the fin de siècle. This conference seeks to return to the Victorian interest in language, poetics and form as the key to understanding decadence and aestheticism as literary phenomena. The focus here will be on both poetry and prose of the period and we particularly encourage those interested in marginal and forgotten writers of the period, along with the debates on the relationship between poetics and a culture in decline. In an attempt to outline a decadent poetics, we also seek to expand and complicate the canon of ‘’ecadent’ writers who dominate prevailing versions of the Victorian fin de siècle.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

– education and language;
– Victorians and Roman literature;
– Decadent prosody;
– Decadent and Modernist poetics;
– Aestheticist poetics;
– transatlantic Decadence;
– fin-de-siècle philology/linguistics;
– politics of Decadence and Aestheticism;
– satires of Decadent form;
– print/visual cultures of Decadence;
– Decadence and new technologies;
– genetic readings of Decadence;
– archival Decadence;
– material Decadence

Abstracts of 300-500 words should be sent to Dr Alex Murray and Dr Jason Hall via email at <> by 10 November 2010.

Proposals for panels (comprising three speakers) are also welcome — please submit the title and a brief description of the panel as well as abstracts for the individual papers. Speakers (whether part of a proposed panel or not) are asked to include a one-page CV with full contact details, institutional affiliation (where applicable) and a list of relevant publications.

Please bear in mind that final papers should take between 15 and 20 minutes (maximum) to deliver.