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’

Office hours: Tuesdays 9-10

Current research

  • The monograph Walter Pater's European Imagination, 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 ‘“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
  • Co-editor (with Charles Martindale and Elizabeth Prettejohn) of an anthology of essays to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2022 under the title Walter Pater and the Beginnings of English Studies.
  • An essay for the above anthology on the imaginary portrait as criticism.


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

ID: 3444