Friday, April 30, 2010

CFP: Re-Reading Symonds (June 18 / Sept 11, 2010)

(Re)Reading John Addington Symonds

Saturday 11th September 2010

A one-day conference at Keele University

Plenary Speakers: Howard J. Booth (Manchester) and Hilary Fraser (Birkbeck)

Interest in John Addington Symonds has revived in recent years due to the 1984 publication of his Memoirs (edited by Phyllis Grosskurth), a unique and important record of Victorian homosexuality. He has since become an important figure for historians of sexuality and queer criticism. Despite this resurgence, Symonds has remained a marginalised figure; his participation across multiple academic and creative disciplines is largely excluded from the canon of nineteenth century cultural criticism. This has prompted John Pemble to write: ‘[Symonds’s contemporary readership] kept his reputation alive and most of his books in print until the 1930s; but his prestige faded as they aged and died off.’

Interest in Symonds has grown and diversified during the 2000s. This one-day conference will provide a forum within which to assimilate and evaluate this new and emerging work; it will offer a wide ranging re-assessment of Symonds, exploring his contribution to multiple disciplines and his significance for current fields of academic study.

Papers might address (but are not limited to):

• Symonds and art/art history

• Symonds and Hellenism

• Symonds as ‘man of letters’; literary critic; historian; poet; essayist; translator

• Symonds and nineteenth-century science; sexology; evolution

• Symonds and life writing

• Symonds and travel writing

• Symonds in collaboration

• Symonds and his contemporaries

• Symonds and his critics/advocates

• Symonds and publication; textuality; book history

• Symonds’s reception, reputation and ‘afterlife’

• Symonds and gender/sexuality

Abstracts for 15 to 20 minute papers (c. 250 words) should be emailed to by 18 June 2010.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to the conference organisers: David Amigoni ( and Amber K. Regis (

This conference is generously supported by the British Association for Victorian Studies.

UPDATE: There's now a conference website:

(Image of Symonds is from the Wikimedia Commons.)