Lene Østermark-Johansen

Lene Østermark-Johansen


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’
  • 'The Delights and Dangers of Reading about Love in the Nineteenth Century'

Office hours: Tuesdays 9-10

Current research

  • An essay on the reception of the love story between Abelard and Héloïse, as part of the Velux-funded project 'Where Love Happens: Topographies of Emotions in Nineteenth-Century European Literature' https://engerom.ku.dk/english/research/centres_projects/where-love-happens/
  • 'Galeotto fu il libro: Depicting Paolo and Francesca and the Dangers of Reading in  Nineteenth-Century Art' for the anthology Intarsi Danteschi: 'Vita Nova' e 'Comedia' nella cultura anglo-americana dell'Ottocento a Firenze, ed. Serena Cenni (Firenze, forthcoming 2022)
  • An essay on Walter Pater's short fiction for The Cambridge Companion to Walter Pater, ed. Francis O'Gorman (forthcoming 2024)
  • Co-editor (with Charles Martindale and Elizabeth Prettejohn) of Walter Pater and the Beginnings of English Studies (forthcoming Cambridge University Press, 2023)
  • 'Unravelling Pater's English Poet: the Imaginary Portrait as Criticism', an essay for the above anthology.


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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