Victorian Literature and Art


The relationship between literature and art was a crucial aspect of Victorian culture. Examples include: the tremendous influence of the writer and art critic John Ruskin; the interdependence of art and literature in the Pre-Raphaelite and Decadent movements; and the frequent representation of works of art in literary texts, and vice versa.

This day school will look at some key aspects of this relationship, through the intersecting perspectives of literary criticism and art history. It will coincide with the exhibition ‘Colour Revolution’, taking place in the nearby Ashmolean Museum, which looks at the development of colour technology and art in the Victorian period. Colour is one of the topics we will address in the day school.

We will also consider how artists and writers of the time engaged with the natural world, often inspired by the ideas of John Ruskin, and how the act of reading, particularly by women, itself became an important subject of Victorian art. The event will conclude with a roundtable discussion, and you will be given plenty of opportunity throughout the day to ask questions of the speakers.

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 UTC on 17 January 2024.

Programme details

Registration at Rewley House reception (in-person attendees)

Nature first?
Fiona Stafford


Colour for colour's sake: chromatic inventions in nineteenth-century art and literature
Stefano Evangelista

Lunch break

Representations of women reading in nineteenth-century painting
Amelia Yeates


Roundtable discussion
Fiona Stafford, Stefano-Maria Evangelista, Amelia Yeates

End of day


Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £99.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £90.00
Baguette lunch £6.50
Hot lunch (3 courses) £17.60


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Prof Fiona Stafford


Fiona Stafford is Professor of English at the University of Oxford and Academic Lead of the Environmental Humanities Programme at TORCH. She works on Romantic Literature, Place and Nature Writing and Literature and the Visual Arts. Her latest book is Time and Tide, and other recent work includes The Brief Life of Flowers, The Long, Long Life of Trees and Reading Romantic Poetry.  She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio.

Dr Stefano Evangelista


Stefano Evangelista is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Oxford University and Fellow of Trinity College. He specialises in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly decadence, translation, and the relations between literature and visual culture. He currently holds an Einstein Visiting Fellowship at the Humboldt University, Berlin, where he is in charge of a project on literary cosmopolitanism at the turn of the twentieth century. Stefano is also part of the research project ‘Chromotope’, which studies the cultural history of colour in the 19th Century, and which is behind the ‘Colour Revolution’ exhibition, currently on show at the Ashmolean Museum.

Dr Amelia Yeates


Amelia Yeates is Associate Professor in Art History at Liverpool Hope University, specialising in nineteenth-century art. She has published on Pygmalion in nineteenth-century art and poetry, women’s reading practices and artistic masculinities in the nineteenth century. She was co-editor of Pre-Raphaelite Masculinities (2014, Ashgate), editor of a special issue of Visual Culture in Britain (July 2015) on The Male Artist in Nineteenth-Century Britain and co-editor of Picturing the Reader: Reading and Representation in the Long Nineteenth-Century (Peter Lang, 2022).

Dr Ben Grant


Dr Ben Grant is a Lecturer in English Literature in the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford. He has a research background in postcolonial studies and cultural translation. His first book, Postcolonialism, Psychoanalysis and Burton: Power Play of Empire (2009), was about the iconic Victorian explorer and translator, Richard Francis Burton, who began his career as a spy in British India. Ben is also interested in all forms of brevity in literature, and his second book, The Aphorism and Other Short Forms (2016), aims to give a consolidated picture of the exciting and often marginalised genres of the aphorism and related short forms, such as the proverb and the fragment. Ben is currently working on life writing and autobiographical fiction, particularly in the work of Jenny Diski.


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this event. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.