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Keynote Speakers

Carolyn Burdett, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Dr. Carolyn Burdett is a Senior Lecturer in English and Victorian Studies at the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London and a member of the Executive Committee of the British Association for Victorian Studies. She has published extensively on the English fin de siècle literature and culture, including two monographs on Olive Schreiner. Her research interests include aestheticism and decadence, especially in the work of Vernon Lee. Currently she has been focusing on the theorization, representation and experience of emotions in the nineteenth century, and working on a book called Coining Empathy:Psychology, Aesthetics, Ethics, 1870-1920. The title of her key note lecture is “Aesthetic empathy, group psychology and world war: Vernon Lee’s decadence

Pirjo Lyytikäinen, University of Helsinki, Finland

Pirjo Lyytikäinen is professor of Finnish literature at University of Helsinki and a specialist in Symbolism and Decadence. She has published extensively on Finnish Decadence and its relationship to French and Nordic Decadence both in Finnish and in English.  Currently, she is editing an anthology on Nordic Decadence.  She also leads the Finnish Academy project Literature and Emotions. In this project, she focuses on the theorization of emotion effects in literature and the investigation of tone or mood in literature. The title of her keynote lecture is Sensing the End: Moods and Emotions in End Games.

Matthew Potolsky, University of Utah, USA

Matthew Potolsky is Professor of English at the University of Utah.  He is the author of Mimesis (2006) and The Decadent Republic of Letters: Taste, Politics, and Cosmopolitan Community from Baudelaire to Beardsley (2012), and co-editor ofPerennial Decay: On the Aesthetics and Politics of Decadence (1998).  He is one of the volume editors for a new complete works of Walter Pater, forthcoming from Oxford University Press, and is currently working on two monographs: a study of the impact of the 1848 Revolutions on the rise of aestheticism; and an analysis of contemporary representations of government secrecy and surveillance.  His keynote lecture is entitled “Street Scenes: Revolutionary Affect and the Politics of Decadence." 

Patrizia Lombardo, University of Geneva, Switzerland

On the Pleasure of Contempt

William Hazlitt analyzed the ambiguities of some human emotions in his On the Pleasure of Hating. Sure, hatred is an ugly emotion but how could one deny that human beings find some pleasure in detesting people and objects? Hatred, rage, scorn, and contempt are often motivated by a sort of melancholy that is, so to speak, active, and indeed directed against an object – differently from the typical Romantic melancholy, which is languid and nostalgic. Contempt for the world in general and for the bourgeois in particular characterized the rejection of modernity in writers who did not accept the myth of progress. Baudelaire and Flaubert expressed their scorn for the contemptible values of their contemporaries in ethics and aesthetics. Nevertheless these negative emotions had a creative potential prompting Baudelaire and Flaubert to find their own style in moral and literary matters.