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Walter Pater’s Imaginary Portraits

Public event

Walter Pater’s Imaginary Portraits: A Celebratory Symposium and Launch of the first two volumes of the Oxford Collected Works of Walter Pater

The writings of Walter Pater (1839–94) had a major impact on the shaping of British Aestheticism in the last decades of the nineteenth century. As a profound influence on modernists such as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, his works cast a long and significant shadow well into the twentieth century, and at no point since its first publication in 1873 has Pater’s first book, Studies in the History of the Renaissance, been out of print. Pater’s essays on European art and literature, from the Greeks till the nineteenth century, have contributed significantly to the history of criticism and the way we look at, write about, and engage with the arts. Yet only now are scholars able to engage again with the full range and complexity of his entire oeuvre thanks to the 10-volume Collected Works of Walter Pater which has started appearing from Oxford University Press. This symposium, organized by the International Walter Pater Society, marks the publication of the first two volumes: Lene Østermark-Johansen’s edition of Pater’s short fiction, the Imaginary Portraits (volume III) and Gerald Monsman’s edition of Pater’s last and unfinished novel, Gaston de Latour (volume IV).

The event will start with an introduction by one of the general editors, Professor Lesley Higgins (York University, Toronto). One of the volume editors, Dr Lene Østermark-Johansen (Copenhagen), will talk about her edition of the Imaginary Portraits and the poetics of place and space in Pater’s fiction.

After that, there will be four responses to Pater’s short fiction from scholars in different fields, followed by a general discussion:

Professor Max Saunders (King’s College, London) will talk about Pater and autobiografiction

Dr Kate Tunstall (Oxford) will respond to ‘A Prince of Court Painters’

Professor Hanneke Grootenboer (Oxford) will respond to ‘Sebastian van Storck’

Dr Katherine Harloe (Reading) will respond to ‘Duke Carl of Rosenmold’

The event will conclude with the official launch of The Collected Works of Walter Pater.

We would like to thank The Queen’s College, Pater’s undergraduate college, for hosting the event and for their generous support. Thanks are also due to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Copenhagen.

RSVP by 1 October to: Lene Østermark-Johansen (