Lene Østermark-Johansen
Lene Østermark-Johansen

Associate Professor

Primary fields of research

I hold joint degrees in English literature and art history, and the majority of my research centres on word-image relations, primarily in the nineteenth century. My current interests revolve around literary and visual portraiture, ekphrasis, and the interrelationship between language, sculpture and literature. I am interested in the literary forms chosen for writing about sculpture in the nineteenth century, in the stratification of language and in the way in which language can evoke three-dimensionality. Another current research interest is nineteenth-century cosmopolitanism, going back to some of my earlier work about the Victorian reception of the Italian Renaissance. In my ongoing work on Walter Pater’s Imaginary Portraits I am pursuing the close web of Anglo-French, Anglo-Dutch and Anglo-Italian forces at work as subtexts in his writings.


I teach and supervise broadly within British literature and art from the Renaissance until the 20th century.

Courses taught at MA level:

  • ‘The Spectacle of Madness in Nineteenth-Century Art and Literature’
  • ‘The Writings of the Brontë Sisters’
  • ‘Henry James and the Art of Lying’
  • ‘The Writings of Oscar Wilde’
  • Aestheticism
  • ‘The Child in Nineteenth-Century Literature’
  • ‘Literary and Visual Portraiture from the Renaissance to Modernism’
  • ‘The Representation of Venice in English Literature from Shakespeare to Jeannette Winterson’
  • 'The Representation of Rome in English Art and Literature in the Nineteenth Century'
  • ‘Literature and Sculpture in the Nineteenth Century’
  • ‘Sensation Fiction of the 1860s’
  • ‘The Italian Renaissance in Victorian Perspective’

Office hours: Wednesday 12-13

Current research

  • A critical edition of Walter Pater’s Imaginary Portraits, vol. 3 of The Collected Works of Walter Pater (Oxford University Press, forthcoming  September 2018)
  • A monograph on Walter Pater and portraiture, financed through a Semper Ardens Fellowship from the Carlsberg Foundation
  • The essay ‘Symphonies in Black and Grey, Harmonies in Iron and Steel: Walter Pater Painting the French Wars of Religion in Gaston de Latour (1888)’ for a special issue of the journal Word & Image on ‘The Changing Colours of Aestheticism’, guest edited by Charlotte Ribeyrol
  • The essay ‘“This will be a popular picture”: Giovanbattista Moroni’s Tailor and the Female Gaze’ for a special issue of the online journal 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century issuing from the National Gallery conference ‘Knowing “as much of art as the cat”? Nineteenth-Century Women Writers on the Old Masters’, guest edited by Hilary Fraser and Susanna Avery-Quash
  • The essay ‘“Que sais-je?”: Walter Pater’s private relativism in the face of public war’ (on Pater and Montaigne) for an anthology on Politics and Aestheticism due to appear in Palgrave Macmillan’s Nineteenth-Century Series, edited by Bénédicte Coste
  • The essay '"The Power of an Intimate Presence": Walter Pater's Leonardo Essay and its Influence at the Fin de Siècle' for the volume Leonardo in Britain: Collections and Reception, eds. Susanna Avery-Quash and Juliana Barone (Florence: Olschki, forthcoming 2018)
  • The essay ‘Framing Likeness and Otherness: Mario Praz and Wax Portraiture’ for the volume Mario Praz: Voice in the Post-Romantic Scene, ed. Elisa Bizzotto (Oxford and Bern: Pater Lang, forthcoming 2018)
  • Organiser and co-editor (with Charles Martindale and Elizabeth Prettejohn) of a two-day seminar on Walter Pater and English Literature at the University of Oxford summer 2018, to be followed by an anthology of essays.


Selected publications

  1. Published

    Walter Pater and the Language of Sculpture

    Østermark-Johansen, Lene, 21 Jul 2011, Farnham: Ashgate. 364 p. (British Art: Global Contexts, Vol. 1).

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    Victorian and Edwardian Responses to the Italian Renaissance

    Law, J. E. & Østermark-Johansen, Lene, 2005, Aldershot: Ashgate. 321 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearch

  3. Published

    Nose Book: Representations of the Nose in Literature and the Arts

    Østermark-Johansen, Lene (ed.), Thomas, H. (ed.) & De Rijke, V. (ed.), 2000, London: Middlesex University. 342 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearch

  4. Published

    Sweetness and Strength: The Reception of Michelangelo in Victorian Britain

    Østermark-Johansen, Lene, 1998, Aldershot: Ashgate. 320 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearch

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