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 interests have long revolved 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.

From 2021 to 2025 I am the Principal Investigator of the Velux-funded research project 'Where Love Happens: Topographies of Emotions in Nineteenth-Century European Literature': https://engerom.ku.dk/english/research/centres_projects/where-love-happens/

My research group examines and challenges the concept of romantic love from a broad range of philosophical, literary, technological and legal viewpoints. My own research project is related to emotions and movement, to the love tourism generated by the great love stories from Héloïse and Abelard onwards. The literary pilgrimages inspired by Dante, Shakespeare, Rousseau, and the Brontës are at the heart of my research, as I examine how reading about love moves lovers out of their private spheres and into European tourism.


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's European Imagination

    Østermark-Johansen, Lene, 25 Aug 2022, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 396 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    The Collected Works of Walter Pater Volume 3. Imaginary Portraits.

    Østermark-Johansen, Lene (ed.), Higgins, L. (ed.) & Latham, D. (ed.), 3 Jan 2019, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 416 p. (The Collected Works of Walter Pater, Vol. 3).

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  3. 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

  4. Published

    Victorian and Edwardian Responses to the Italian Renaissance

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

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearch

  5. 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

  6. 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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