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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Evangelista, Stefano

Position: Associate Professor; Tutorial Fellow, Trinity College
College: Trinity
Period/Subject: Victorians

Email address:

Research Interests:

  • Nineteenth-century English literature, especially Aestheticism and Decadence
  • Comparative literature
  • Gender and sexuality
  • The classical tradition
  • Literature and visual culture

My work is situated at the intersection of English literature and a number of other disciplines, including classics, modern languages, comparative literature and the history of sexuality. Its historical focus is on the late nineteenth century, especially Aestheticism and Decadence. My first monograph, British Aestheticism and Ancient Greece: Hellenism, Reception, Gods in Exile (2009) uncovers the radical reinterpretation of Ancient Greek culture undertaken by Walter Pater, Vernon Lee, Michael Field and Oscar Wilde. By bringing together male and female, canonical and marginalised authors, I sought to challenge the perception that classics was the preserve of Oxbridge-educated men, and revealed instead a plurality of modes of engagement with the past and the complex dialogue between classical scholarship, art criticism and creative writing. This book was followed by edited collections on the European reception of Oscar Wilde (2010), the arts in Victorian literature (2010), the Victorian poet A.C. Swinburne (2013) and cosmopolitanism in late nineteenth-century European literature (2013). 

I am currently preparing a monograph on cosmopolitanism in the Victorian fin de siècle provisionally entitled The Love of Strangers. I argue that the end of the nineteenth century, a period that coincided with the height of imperialism, witnessed a debate around cosmopolitanism that had a transformative and hitherto unrecognised effect on British literary culture, changing the way in which writers and readers understood the relationship between the national and the global and affecting the representation of emotion, gender and sexuality. Key authors with whom I engage in this project include Oscar Wilde, George Egerton, 'Ouida', Havelock Ellis and Henry James. I am particularly interested in patterns of cultural and literary exchange between Britain and Italy, France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries.

Together with my colleague Gesa Stedman of the Centre for British Studies (Humboldt University), I coordinate an international research network called Writing 1900. The group came together in 2012 and has held regular meetings since then. Our current joint research project is on the topic of international places and communities. We plan to hold a workshop on this topic in Oxford this June.

Teaching Areas:

Undergraduate: English literature from 1760 to the present, including lecture series on late-Victorian writing, and Victorian literature and the visual arts; various special authors including Oscar Wilde.

Graduate: MSt course on Aestheticism, Decadence and the Fin de Siècle. I am currently supervising five doctoral theses on various aspects of English and comparative literature in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I would be happy to hear from prospective doctoral students planning to work on any of my research interests listed above. 

Recent Publications:

Books and Edited Volumes

  • British Aestheticism and Ancient Greece: Hellenism, Reception, Gods in Exile (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, xi + 203 pp.)
  • (ed.) The Reception of Oscar Wilde in Europe (Continuum, 2010, cv + 381 pp.)
  • (ed. with Catherine Maxwell), The Arts in Victorian Literature (special double issue of Yearbook of English Studies 40:1 and 2 (2010), xi + 325 pp.)
  • (ed. with Catherine Maxwell), Algernon Charles Swinburne: Unofficial Laureate (Manchester University Press, 2013, xiv + 256 pp.) 
  • (ed. with Richard Hibbitt), Fin-de-Siecle Cosmopolitanism (special issue of Comparative Critical Studies 10:2 (2013), viii + 193 pp.)

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • 'Greek Studies and Pater's Delayed Meaning', English Literature in Transition 57:2 (2014), 170-83

  • '"Life in the Whole": Goethe and English Aestheticism', Publications of the English Goethe Society 82:3 (2013), 180-92

  • 'The trans-national critical Alliance of Vernon Lee and Carlo Placci' (with Francesca Billiani), Comparative Critical Studies 10:2 (2013), 141-61

  • 'Swinburne's French Voice: Cosmopolitanism and Cultural Mediation in Aesthetic Criticism', in Algernon Charles Swinburne: Unofficial Laureate, ed. Catherine Maxwell and Stefano Evangelista (Manchester University Press: 2013), pp. 15-32

  • 'Ouida's Pulsations: Sensation and Aestheticism', in Aesthetic Lives: New Experiences, new Subjects of Poetry, new Forms of Art, ed. Benedicte Coste and Catherine Delyfer (Rivendale Press, 2013), pp. 157-76 

  • ‘Rome and the Romantic Heritage in Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean’, in Romans and Romantics, ed. Timothy Saunders et al. (Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 306-26

  • ‘Lessons in Greek Art: Jane Harrison and Aestheticism’, Women’s Studies 40 (2011), 513-36

  • ‘Swinburne’s Galleries’, Yearbook of English Studies 40 (2010), 160-79

  • ‘Oscar Wilde: European by Sympathy’, in The Reception of Oscar Wilde in Europe ed. Stefano Evangelista (London and New York: Continuum, 2010), pp.1-19

  • ‘Aesthetic Encounters: John Addington Symonds and Wilhelm Von Gloeden’, in Illustrations, Optics and Objects in Nineteenth-Century Literary and Visual Culture, ed. Luisa Calè and Patrizia Di Bello (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp.87-104

  • ‘Vernon Lee in the Vatican: The Uneasy Alliance of Aestheticism and Archaeology’, Victorian Studies 52 (2009), 25-35

  • 'A Revolting Mistake: Walter Pater’s Iconography of Dionysus’, Victorian Review 34 (2008), 200-18

  • ‘Platonic Dons, Adolescent Bodies: Benjamin Jowett, John Addington Symonds, Walter Pater’, in Children and Sexuality: The Greeks to the Great War, ed. George Rousseau (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp.206-30

  • ‘Walter Pater’s Teaching in Oxford: Classics and Aestheticism’, in Oxford Classics: Teaching and Learning 1800-2000, ed. Christopher Stray (London: Duckworth, 2007), pp.64-77

  • ‘Walter Pater: The Queer Reception’, Pater Newsletter 52 (2007), 19-24

  • ‘A Colony of Hellas: Nineteenth-Century England and the Legacy of Ancient Greece’, Journal of British Cultures 13 (2006), 47-62

  • ‘“Lovers and Philosophers in One”: Aesthetic Platonism in the Victorian Fin de Siècle’, Yearbook of English Studies 36 (2006), 230-44

  • ‘Vernon Lee and the Gender of Aestheticism’, in Vernon Lee: Decadence, Ethics, Aesthetics, ed. Catherine Maxwell and Patricia Pulham (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp.91-111

  • ‘The German Roots of British Aestheticism: Pater’s “Winckelmann”, Goethe’s Winckelmann, Pater’s Goethe’, in Anglo-German Affinities and Antipathies in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Rüdiger Görner (Munich: Iudicium Verlag, 2004), pp.57-70

  • ‘Walter Pater Unmasked: Impressionistic Criticism and the Gender of Aesthetic Writing’, Literature Compass 1 (2004), 1-4

  • ‘Against Misinterpretation: Benjamin Jowett’s Translations of Plato and the Ethics of Modern Homosexuality’, Recherches anglaises et nord-américaines 36 (2003), 141-53

  • ‘Outward Nature and the Moods of Men: Pater’s Romantic Mythology’, in Walter Pater: Transparencies of Desire, ed. Laurel Brake, Lesley Higgins, and Carolyn Williams (Greensboro: ELT Press, 2002), pp.107-18

Other Information:

I am a Fellow of the Centre for British Studies of the Humboldt University, Berlin.

I am a convenor of the Victorian Literature Graduate Seminar, which meets on Mondays at 5.15 during term.

I am on the editorial boards of the following journals:

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