Decadence and the Fairy Tale

24 March 2023



Organised by the British Association of Decadence Studies (BADS)
and the Goldsmiths’ Decadence Research Centre
In association with the Centre for Comparative Literature


Keynote Speaker: Dr Alessandro Cabiati (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)

Keynote Paper: ‘Marvellous Abnormalities: Fairy Tales, Decadence, and Deviance in the Late Nineteenth Century’


Call for Papers

Decadent writers and artists repeatedly turned to the fairy tale tradition as a rich source of inspiration. They saw the fairy tale as an opportunity to showcase both its potential for subversion and their own skill at integrating adult, decadent elements within texts traditionally perceived as reserved for children. Writers such as Oscar Wilde, Arthur Machen, Jean Lorrain (Paul Alexandre Martin Duval), Renée Vivien (Pauline Mary Tarn), and Rachilde (Marguerite Eymery Vallette) transformed the fairy tale into a strikingly transgressive adult text with capacity to explore mystical, occult and esoteric spaces, reject social and literary conventionality, and embrace decadent individualism, queer desire and sexual dissidence. This one-day symposium explores the role and significance of the decadent fairy tale from the late nineteenth century to the present. We welcome proposals on any aspect of the decadent fairy tale.

Papers (about 20 mins in length) might include discussion of but are not limited to:

  • The decadent fairy tale and the visual arts
  • Post-Edwardian decadent interpretations of the fairy tale
  • Supernatural elements within the decadent fairy tale
  • The decadent fairy tale on stage
  • The body within the decadent fairy tale
  • Feminist readings of the decadent fairy tale
  • Queer readings of the decadent fairy tale
  • The treatment of race within the decadent fairy tale
  • Class within the decadent fairy tale
  • Luxury and materialism within the decadent fairy tale
  • The influence and legacy of the decadent fairy tale

Abstracts of up to 300 words should be sent to by 31 January 2023.


Conference Organisers:

Eleanor Keane (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Jane Desmarais (Goldsmiths, University of London)

For any queries about Decadence and the Fairy Tale, please email