Aesthetic Scenarios and Revolutions in the British Fin-de-Siècle Context


Synergies vol. IV, 2023

In the wake of the successful international conference co-organised by some of this journal’s editors-in-chief, the Italian Oscar Wilde Society and the Fondazione culturale “Michel de Montaigne” (“‘The artist is the creator of beautiful things’: Aesthetic Revolutions in Fin-de-Siècle England”, Bagni di Lucca, 9-11 September 2022), the 2023 special issue of Synergies: A Journal of English Literatures and Cultures aims to further investigate the theme of aesthetic scenarios and revolutions characterising the late 19th-century British context, with its consequential epistemic shifts and complex cultural phenomenologies.

As testified to by a growing number of authoritative studies, such a context is definitely wider and more vibrant than the one commonly dealt with under the ‘Naughty Nineties’ heading and its iconoclastic attitude towards Victorian prescriptive codes. The objective of Synergies 2023 is to properly figure out a diversified spectrum and give credit to the relevance and achievements of fin-de-siècle artists and writers, from the deeper meanings of the ‘art for art’s sake’ concept to the notion of the ‘beautiful untrue thing’, from experimental trends to the establishment of an intense transnational dialogue. As suggested by authors and personalities such as Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater, Algernon Charles Swinburne, George Moore and Ernest Dowson, Edward Burne-Jones and Aubrey Beardsley, Vernon Lee, Michael Field and George Egerton, the fin de siècle does not seem to merely announce the end of an era. Indeed, it can be seen as poignantly interpreting and conveying the transition to a new beginning.

Subjects could include, but will not be restricted to, the following:

  • Experimental contaminations between different arts and languages; the ‘condition of music’ as a source and cornerstone for artistic inspiration; historical approaches and (trans)historical intersections (e.g. with the Renaissance, ancient myths, the decline of great empires); Pre-Raphaelitism, Impressionism, Japonisme, Art Nouveau, new figural concepts; ekphrasis and alchemies of perception; antimimeticism, antimaterialism, symbolism, mysticism, magic and occultism; the aesthetics of refinement, the exotic and the grotesque
  • Socio-cultural phenomenologies: Decadent episteme(s); prophets and apostles of the ‘religion of art’; the voyeur, flâneur, dandy, homme fatal, and femme fatale; the aesthetic-decadent fashion and its reverberations in magazines of humour and satire; the philosophy of otium and anti-philistinism; from the succès de scandale of literary and art works to social scandals; solipsism, obsession, disease and ‘perversion’
  • Symbols and icons; mirrors, masks and artifice; textiles, clothing and costumes; the body and the performing arts; theatre and cinema
  • The idea of ‘aesthetic uselessness’ and the cult of beauty: artifacts and precious materials; the search for revealing correspondences; ‘ornamental grammar’ and aesthetic architectures
  • Fin de siècle, fin du globe: the end of the nineteenth century then and now; relationships between Decadence and Modernism, Queer Studies, Gender Studies, Celebrity Studies, pop culture, transgenderism; late-nineteenth-century cosmopolitanism and today’s globalisation

Abstract submission deadline: 28 April 2023 

Notification of acceptance: 8 May 2023

Preliminary papers to the editor(s): 30 June 2023 

Revised peer-reviewed papers to the editor(s): 8 September 2023 

Please submit an abstract (max. 200 words) along with 3-5 suitable keywords and a bio-bibliographical note (max. 150 words) to:

For further details, including article guidelines and instructions on how to submit, please check the Submission page.