Monthly Archives: October 2013

Review: Aesthetic Lives


Aesthetic Lives: ‘New Experiences, New Subjects of Poetry, New Forms of Art,’ eds. Bénédicte Coste and Catherine Delyfer (Hugh Wycombe: Rivendale Press, 2013); ISBN 978-1-904201-23-6); 217 pp.

We seem to know much about the Aesthetic movement of the 1870s-1890s: Wilde’s blue china, Pater’s hard gem-like flame, the “House Beautiful,” The Yellow Book, but “seem,” perhaps is the key word: this thoughtful collection, nicely produced by Rivendale Press, a leading independent publisher of research on the 1890s, takes us beyond the clichés and sheds light on the less-known aspects of the movement, its influences, collaborations, and intellectual, artistic, and social consequences.

Three sections comprise the volume: “Looking into Aestheticism, “Living Aesthetically: Fashioning the Interior, Designing the Self,” and “Representing Aestheticism.” The essays can be divided into three thematic categories, roughly corresponding to the three sections: Continue reading

CFP Reminder: Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes


History is not like a bus-line on which the vehicle changes all its passengers and crew whenever it gets to the point marking its terminus. Nevertheless, if there are dates which are more than conveniences for the purposes of periodisation, August 1914 is one of them. (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire)

At the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, how useful is it to think about the Edwardian era as ending decisively in 1914? Indeed, how helpful have conventional boundaries of periodisation been in our understanding of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century British culture?

Rather than viewing ‘the Edwardian’ as a fixed and isolated historic moment, this conference seeks to open up new ways of thinking about the premonitions and echoes of the Edwardian age. Just as the 1880s and 1890s can be interpreted as ‘proto-Edwardian’, so too the Edwardians can be seen to have anticipated many issues and debates of the present day, from coalition governments to trade unions, immigration acts to women’s rights.

We invite papers on any aspect of British culture, based on varied temporal definitions of the ‘Edwardian period’.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

•           Proto-Edwardians: how far back can we trace the spirit of the Edwardian age? The Victorians? The Regency? Beyond?

•           21st Century Edwardians: to what extent have the social reforms, political activities and cultural developments of the Edwardian era shaped contemporary society?

•           Between Two Wars: what is the relationship between war and the Edwardians? How significant is it that the Edwardian era is frequently perceived to have been bookended by the Boer War and the First World War?

•           Old versus new: how helpful is Samuel Hynes’s observation that the Edwardian era was one in which ‘old and new ideas dwelt uneasily together’? Was the Edwardian period an unusually heterogeneous cultural moment?

•           Uncanny Edwardians: how did the Edwardian preoccupation with séances, emergent psychological theories, and theological developments, influence their perception of themselves in terms of their historical moment?

‘Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes’ is the second annual conference of the Edwardian Culture Network.  The two-day conference will be hosted by the University of Liverpool on April 10th-11th 2014. Please send 300 word abstracts to by no later than Monday 2nd December 2013.

Screening of ‘The Secret Agent’


London-based Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following film screening:

Christopher Hampton’s Film of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent: Screening and Panel Discussion with the Writer-Director

Fri 25 October 2013, 6.30pm – 9pm (Doors open at 6pm)

FREE but booking is required.

The Screening Room, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Join Christopher Hampton, playwright and Academy award-winning screenwriter (Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement), for a special screening of his 1996 adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. Following the screening Christopher Hampton, who both wrote and directed the film, will be in conversation with Dr Andrew Glazzard and Professor Jonathan Powell. Professor Robert Hampson, a world-renowned Conrad scholar, will introduce the film.

The film features a stellar case, including Bob Hoskins, Patricia Arquette, Gérard Depardieu, Jim Broadbent, Christian Bale, Robin Williams and Eddie Izzard. Set in London in the grim socio-political atmosphere of late 19th century, Verloc is a double agent, spying on anarchists for the Russian government while simultaneously providing information to the police. When Inspector Heat insists that the anarchists must commit a major act of violence in order for the police to put them behind bars, a chain of events is set in motion that leads to tragedy for all involved.

See here for more information, including booking.

Empire Online

Described as a ‘powerful and interactive collection of primary source documents, sourced from leading archives around the world’, Empire Online is certainly one of the leading online resources for anyone studying the British Empire from 1492 to the present day. Though the site covers a vast period, there are a host of documents relating to the Edwardian era, including images of the Boer War, articles on immigration, an Indian woman’s impressions of England in 1900, issues of ‘Girl’s Empire’, and Tales of Adventures from the Heart of Australia. The website also contains essays by leading scholars, an interactive map, and a detailed chronology. Well worth investigating!

Edwardian Update

'The Crystal Gazers' by Henry Tonks, c.1905

‘The Crystal Gazers’ by Henry Tonks, c.1905

As we enter a new academic year, it is worth reminding readers of the scope and ambitions of the Edwardian Culture Network. The main aim of this site is to keep scholars informed as to Edwardian-related conferences, exhibitions and publications; to draw attention the work of current researchers in the field; and to the list the multiple resources available for those studying the period 1895-1914, both online and off. We have our own timeline, and have recently started publishing ‘Edwardian Encounters’, a series of short essays. Reviews of new publications are also ongoing. Although the network started in the UK, as a partnership between the Universities of York and Durham, two of our founders are now based in Yale, making us a truly transatlantic network!

As well as linking to other people’s events, we also host our own annual conference, the second of which will be held on April 10-11th 2014 in Liverpool. If you are interested in presenting a paper, please see here. More information on this event will follow over the coming months.

If you would like to get involved in the network, please join our researcher’s list by e-mailing us at If you are interested in writing a review, short essay or blog post, or have information about an upcoming event, we would love to hear from you! Should you be so inclined, you can also ‘like’ us on facebook.