Walter Pater, The Renaissance, and Legacies of Aestheticism

deadline for submissions: 
March 17, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Joseph Bristow / International Walter Pater Society
contact email: 

Marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Walter Pater’s Studies in the History of the Renaissance, this two-day conference will consider the place of Pater and The Renaissance in nineteenth-century debates on art, literature and culture, their legacies and those of aestheticism into the twenty-first century.


Pater’s first book, which he retitled The Renaissance in 1877, represented a turning point in nineteenth-century English art writing: it promoted new ideas on art and aesthetics whose influence went well beyond art-historical circles. Pater’s style and his sometimes-controversial doctrine of art for art’s sake played a fundamental role in the development of aestheticism and decadence, literary impressionism and later in the genesis of modernism. His handling of artists’ lives predates ideas and techniques associated with psychoanalysis and queer historiography.


Organised jointly by the International Walter Pater Society and the scholarly journal Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism, the conference will examine the diverse legacies of Pater’s Renaissance. Papers may explore the contents, contexts, reception and translation of Pater’s book in the light of recent developments in Pater scholarship and in the field of aestheticism and decadence studies more broadly, including the ongoing scholarly edition of his complete works.


We invite proposals for papers that deal with any aspect of the impact and legacy of Pater, his ideas and The Renaissance. Potential contributions could address:


  • Pater as an art critic, author and/or philosopher
  • Pater’s place in, response to and significance in the nineteenth-century art world
  • The textual history of The Renaissance
  • Pater’s treatment of individual artists, works, or the Renaissance more broadly
  • Pater’s treatment of the temporalities and cultures of the Renaissance
  • Critical responses to The Renaissance
  • Pater, The Renaissance and aestheticism and decadence
  • Nineteenth-century impressionism and Pater’s literary impressionism
  • Pater, The Renaissance and modernism
  • Pater, The Renaissance and queer historiography
  • Translations and appropriations of The Renaissance
  • The legacies of Pater, The Renaissance and aestheticism


It is expected that selected papers will be published in a special issue of Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism.


The conference will be held on June 26-27, 2023 at Trinity College, Oxford


Abstracts of 250–400 words, together with email and regular mail contact information and (where appropriate) institutional affiliation, should be submitted here by Friday, 17 March 2023. Any enquiries may be directed to