Neo-Victorian Decadences

deadline for submissions: 
July 2, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Durham University

8–9 September 2017, St John’s College, Durham University (United Kingdom)

Keynote speakers:

Dr Nick Freeman (Loughborough University)
Dr Kirsten MacLeod (Newcastle University)

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

We welcome expressions of interest for papers of 15-20 minutes long. Please send your abstracts to by July 2nd, 2017.