In association with BADS (British Association of Decadence Studies), the International Vernon Lee Society would like to invite you two online Thursday evening events exploring the life and works of Vernon Lee.
Lates with Lee
Thursday 18 March & Thursday 25 March 2021
18.30 – 20.00 GMT (Hosted on Zoom)
These Jeudis will introduce you to Lee’s life and the key themes in Vernon Lee’s writing.
Vernon Lee (Violet Paget, 1856-1935) was the author of over forty diverse publications in her lifetime. This body of work included novels, essays, and short story collections, published articles, open letters, and an erudite series of lectures. Lee was born in France, to British ex-pat parents, and lived in Italy for the majority of her adult life. Her formative years were shaped by German governesses and her education dictated by a neurasthenic brother and an overly ambitious mother.
Lee’s career spanned her entire adult life – she was published at the age of fourteen– and she often wrote to the point of cramp and exhaustion. Yet she did so, she argued, only to ‘please herself’. She had fluency in four languages (Italian, French, German, and English), was a staunch pacifist, a notable literary critic, an ardent antivivisectionist, a supporter of the women’s movement, and a queer figure. Lee’s most interesting (and most studied) works engage with her theories on art and her supernatural fiction.
Hauntings: Vernon Lee and the Supernatural Short Story
Patricia Pulham and Emma Liggins
Thursday 18 March 2021(18.30 – 20.00 GMT)
This Jeudi includes two short talks by Patricia Pulham and Emma Liggins who will discuss Lee’s interest in the supernatural and the fantastic, art and horror.
Haunted Portraits: Decadence, Transgression and the Arts in Vernon Lee’s Fiction
Vernon Lee’s short stories are filled with a plethora of art forms, including paintings, statues, and music. Among her best-known collections are Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales (1890) and For Maurice: Five Unlikely Stories (1927). This talk will consider the importance of art forms in her supernatural fiction and explore their significance in the context of late-Victorian decadence.
Patricia Pulham is Professor of Victorian Literature at the University of Surrey. She is author of The Sculptural Body in Victorian Literature: Encrypted Sexualities (2020) and Art and the Transitional Object in Vernon Lee’s Supernatural Tales (2008). She has published widely, including edited collections and articles on Victorian and neo-Victorian fiction, and is currently editor of the journal Victoriographies, published by Edinburgh University Press.
‘Horror at this absorbing Italy’: Haunted Architecture in Vernon Lee’s Italian Ghost Stories
This talk will consider Vernon Lee’s fascination with the dark side of the Italian city in her ghost stories and travel writing. In ‘A Wicked Voice’ and ‘The Legend of Madame Krasinska’ the cosmopolitan decadence of Florence and Venice is both tourist attraction and site of horror. Liggins will discuss how the disorientating spaces of old Italy in Lee’s writing offer an escape from a modernity increasingly seen as vulgar and unsightly.
Emma Liggins is Senior Lecturer in English Literature in the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her publications include George Gissing, the Working Woman and Urban Culture (Ashgate, 2006); The British Short Story, with Andrew Maunder & Ruth Robbins (Palgrave, 2011); Odd Women? Spinsters, Lesbians and Widows in British Women’s Fiction, 1850-1939 (Manchester University Press, 2014); and The Haunted House in Women’s Ghost Stories, 1850-1945: Gender, Space and Modernity (Palgrave, 2020). She has also published an article on Vernon Lee and the supernatural in Gothic Studies (2013). She is currently editing a special issue of Women’s Writing on ghost stories and spiritualism, as well as researching shopping and alienation in the short stories of Shirley Jackson (and dreaming of visiting Italy again).
Vernon Lee’s Aesthetics: A Roundtable
Thursday 25 March 2021 (18.30 – 20.00 GMT)
This evening’s roundtable event will bring together five speakers – Elisa Bizzotto, Dennis Denisoff, Sondeep Kandola, Fraser Riddell, and Francesco Ventrella – who each approach Lee’s aesthetic theories from unique perspectives. Participants will converse on Lee’s interest in literature, painting, sculpture, and music, the Paterian origins of her aesthetics, her decadent influences, and Lee’s landscape aesthetics.
Elisa Bizzotto is Associate Professor of English Literature at Iuav University of Venice. She works on Victorian and pre-modernist literature, with specialisation in aestheticism, decadence, and Anglo-Italian cultural intersections, and her interests are in genre, gender, mythography, and intermediality. She was part of the Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe network and is currently translating two of G. B. Shaw’s plays for the publisher Giunti-Bompiani. She was a member of the scientific committee of international conferences and has been invited to lecture in Europe and North America. She is the author of books on the imaginary portrait (2001), the Pre-Raphaelite magazine The Germ (2012), Walter Pater (2018), and the editor of volumes on Pater (1996), Vernon Lee (2006, 2014), Arthur Symons (2018), and Mario Praz (2019). She was appointed Officer of the International Pater Society in 2018 and is a founder of the Italian Oscar Wilde Society. She is a member of the Council of the PhD in History of the Arts (Ca’ Foscari-Iuav) and of the Editorial Boards of Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism, Volupté, English Literature, and Journal of Comparative Studies.
Dennis Denisoff is the Ida Barnard McFarlin Chair of English and Film at the University of Tulsa. In 2021, he will be publishing a special issue of Victorian Literature and Culture on ‘Scales of Decadence’, another for Feminist Modernist Studies on ‘Global Decadence’, and his monograph Decadent Ecology with Cambridge University Press.
Sondeep Kandola is Senior Lecturer in English and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and the recipient of a William Andrews Clark fellowship at UCLA to research Oscar Wilde and Censorship (2021/22). Her current work is entitled ‘Oscar Wilde’s England: Censorship, Empire and the Victorian Culture Wars’, which explores the impact of modes of censorship, whether governmental, self-engineered or unconscious, on the development of theatre and the novel in late-Victorian Britain. Sondeep’s recent publications include ‘Maverick Modernists: Sapphic Trajectories from Vernon Lee to D. H. Lawrence’, in Kostas Boyiopoulos, Mark Sandy, and Tony Patterson (eds.) Literary and Cultural Alternatives to Modernism: Unsettling Presences (Routledge: 2019).
Fraser Riddell is Lecturer in English and Medical Humanities at Durham University. He is currently completing his first book, provisionally entitled Music and the Queer Body in Fin-de-Siècle Literature. His work on John Addington Symonds and the Victorian chorister was recently published in Victorian Literature and Culture (2020). Other publications include an article on queer musical geographies in decadent literature in Journal of Victorian Culture. His current project explores the significance of tactile sensory perception in Victorian and early twentieth-century literature.
Francesco Ventrella is Lecturer in Art History at the University of Sussex. His research looks into the relationship between feminist and queer aesthetics and visual culture, and he has written on modern and contemporary art writing. Francesco is the co-editor, with Meaghan Clarke, of a special issue of Visual Resources on the topic of ‘Women and the Culture of Connoisseurship’ (2017), and with Giovanna Zapperi he has just published the volume Feminism and Art in Postwar Italy: The Legacy of Carla Lonzi (Bloomsbury, 2020).
Tickets are FREE for members of BADS and IVLS. Please email BADS@gold.ac.uk to reserve a place at one or both of the talks.
Non-members are welcome to attend.
Tickets are priced at £3.00 for one talk, or £5.00 for both. Please click HERE to be taken to the shop.