CFP: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives – Deadline 28 April 2019


The Pathological Body From the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives

A one-day symposium at the Institute of Modern Languages (IMLR), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, UK

Friday 20 September 2019

Keynote Speaker: Dr Steven Wilson (Queen’s University Belfast)

* With support from the Cassal Endowment Fund *

What is sickness, and how is it represented in literature? In his twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart novel cycle (1871–93), Émile Zola creates pathological bodies living within Napoleon III’s Second Empire (1852–70), a period which is represented as being engulfed by political and social sickness. It is in the last volume, Le Docteur Pascal, that there is hope embodied within Pascal’s newborn son, the potential ‘messiah’ of the French nation. In the aftermath of the disastrous Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Zola’s cycle may be a literary reaction to the state of a weakened France in exalting the mythicised image of the mother and child, at once a symbol of purity and new beginnings. Reflecting on the multi-dimensional aspect of Zola’s Naturalism, Henri Mitterand writes that these novels are not merely a form of social and historical documentation, but, instead, offer a knowledge that is more intuitive, modern and poetic, and which might be termed an ‘anthropomythic naturalism’ (preface, Émile Zola, Le Docteur Pascal, p. 48). This symposium aims to explore the nexus of fears, anxieties and desires that society projects onto the body within European literature and culture, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, tracing the birth and development of modern medicine. It will examine the widest meaning of sickness and the power dynamic between the body and society. Is sickness ever ‘just’ sickness, or is there often a covert ideological agenda that drives and constructs it? How can literature help us understand the relationship between the body and society? The symposium will take a transhistorical and transnational approach in order to see whether, and how, cultural anxieties which appropriate the body change and differ across European national boundaries during a time when medicine is establishing and asserting its increasing authority. The symposium will be an opportunity for colleagues to forge connections and to compare different approaches within the growing field of Medical Humanities within the Modern Languages.

Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:

Fin de siècle







Social order


Sacred and the religious





Illness and cure

Life and death

The other
















Abject body



Proposals of c. 250 words for 20-minute papers in English and a 100-word biography should be emailed to the conference organiser, Dr Kit Yee Wong, by Sunday 28 April 2019. Notifications to potential speakers will be sent out by Saturday 25 May 2019.

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Call for papers: first international symposium on fin-de-siècle writer Ernest Dowson (1867-1900), deadline Friday 26 February 2016

Ernest Dowson (1867-1900): Poet, translator, novelist
Goldsmiths, University of London
15 April 2016

Keynote: Dr Kostas Boyiopoulos (Durham University)
Plenary: Jad Adams (Institute of English)

Proposals are welcome for short readings of original creative writing inspired by Dowsonian themes.

Please send abstracts of 300 words, with your institutional affiliation and a brief biography, to Jessica Gossling and Alice Condé at by Friday 26 February 2016.

The Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths are pleased to announce the first international symposium on the fin-de-siècle writer Ernest Dowson (1867-1900).

Born in South London, Dowson lived and died during the last days of English Decadence. Poet, translator, and novelist, he had an affinity with the capital city’s impoverished and intellectual spaces, and engaged with international literary and artistic circles. In the 120 years since the publication of Verses, Dowson has become something of a Decadent legend, but is still considered a minor figure of the fin de siècle.

This symposium seeks to develop new perspectives on Ernest Dowson. We welcome papers on any aspect of his life and works. In particular, we are interested in submissions that address the following areas:

  • Dowson’s poetry, short fiction, drama, and co-authored novels
  • The complex critical positioning of Dowson’s writing within fin de siècle studies
  • Death, drugs and dry docking – the label ‘Decadent’, and its influence on our reading of Dowson
  • Optimism and pessimism, and other Dowsonian contradictions
  • Translation, correspondence, and rivalry in Dowson’s works
  • The viol, the violet and the vine – motifs and images in Dowson’s poetry
  • Moonbeams and maidens – Dowson’s treatment of gender and sexuality
  • Hotels, harlots and halitosis – places, spaces and bodies
  • ‘Slimy trails and holy places’ – Catholicism and ritual in Dowson’s life and work
  • Dirty talk, clean words – the relationship between his sordid lifestyle and clean poetic imagery


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CFP: Forgotten Geographies – deadline 20 December 2015

CFP: Forgotten Geographies in the Fin de Siècle, 1880-1920

Deadline: 20 December 2015

8-9 July 2016

Birkbeck College, University of London

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

  • Professor Regenia Gagnier (Exeter)
  • Dr Olga Kirillova (National Pedagogical Dragomanov University, Kyiv)
  • Dr Stefano Evangelista (Trinity, Oxford)

The glamour and mystery of the place, with its sinister atmosphere of forgotten nations, appealed to the imagination of my friend.
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot

Recent years have seen an upsurge of interest in fin-de-siècle cultural studies and, in particular, in the growth of cosmopolitanism and internationalism in Europe during the 1880s and 1890s. This critical reception has tended to read British fin-de-siècle culture as a reflection of and reaction to specific European countries, mainly France. The wealth and variety of imperial and industrial Britain’s cross-cultural exchanges, however, has not been generally considered as a whole. British artists and writers of the 1880s and 1890s were avid travellers and readers who came in contact with a vast range of European cultures – Belgian, Bohemian, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish… As a way of escaping industrialisation and cultural homogenisation, or as a consequence of imperial politics, many artists and writers also interacted with further cultures, such as Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Moroccan, and Turkish, to name but a few. British authors of the fin de siècle were undeniably influenced by French writing, but also by Scandinavian naturalists like Ibsen and Hamsun, and by the newly translated fiction of Turgenev and Tolstoy.

Likewise, the impact and response to British art and literature in the international cultural community has yet to be explored. Anglomania was a distinct tendency among aesthetes in turn-of-the-century Hungary, Russia, Austria, Ukraine, and Poland, to name but a few. The promotion of British aestheticism was often seen by the locals as a step to modernisation and advancement of national artistic and literary tradition. English magazines, which facilitated revolutionary changes in publishing, design, and international networking, e.g. The Studio, The Yellow Book, The Savoy, were set as examples for the emerging culture of periodicals in Eastern Europe. The late Pre-Raphaelite movement, especially works and ideas of Burne-Jones and Watts, was also a powerful yet underappreciated influence on the development of Symbolism in Polish visual culture.

As recent research questions the cultural segregation between East and West, challenging post-colonial assumptions about imperial hierarchy, and instead emphasising global networks of reciprocity, it is the intention of this conference to further expand this debate. By bringing together established and emerging scholars, we aim to reconsider the intellectual and national foundations of the British fin de siècle, assessing the role of other ‘forgotten’ cultures in the articulation of British cultural movements of the time. At the same time, we intend to unlock and reframe the perception of British authors abroad by explicating the reinvention of meaning of their work in different cultural, social, and political environments.

We invite proposals for 20 minute papers on topics related to forgotten geographies in the fin de siècle, which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Dialectic between the cosmopolitan and the local/national
  • Non-traditional European identities
  • Non-European collaborative links of British cultural producers
  • Portrayals of difference in cosmopolitan literature and art
  • Cosmopolitan practices (travelling, translation, hospitality)
  • Modern cities as centres of transnational cultural exchange
  • Literary and artistic networks of the turn of the century
  • Fin-de-siècle cultural imperialism, aesthetic Orientalism
  • Mass culture and popularization of aestheticism

Please email 300-word abstracts to by 20 December 2015.

Organisers: Leire Barrera-Medrano (Birkbeck, University of London), Sasha Dovzhyk (Birkbeck, University of London)

More information

Call For Papers Link:


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