Open Cultural Studies: The Pre-Raphaelites and Antiquity


Dr Richard Warren 

(Royal Holloway, University of London)



The focus of this special issue will be on how the British artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood received and transformed antiquity. The issue aims to explore the diversity of Pre-Raphaelite receptions of the ancient world particularly, but not limited to, the legacy of the civilisations of ancient Egypt, the Middle East, ancient Greece, ancient Rome and ancient Britain. This special collection of studies will seek to break new ground in elaborating how the Pre-Raphaelites used the ancient to express their ideals and fears, and their reactions to the contemporary Victorian society in which they lived. Building on the many existing studies of the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the collection will ideally enrich this literature through a series of case studies on individual artists and on individual themes (such as gender and nationalism).

Suggested topics for articles for the collection could include:

  • John Ruskin’s relationship with antiquity and the impact of this upon the Pre-Raphaelites.
  • Studies of individual artists and their relationship with classical antiquity (Possible subjects might include Frederic Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, John William Waterhouse, and Edward Burne-Jones).
  • The roles of ancient Britain and ancient Rome in defining the Victorian national and imperial ideal.
  • The Pre-Raphaelite uses of antiquity in articulating Victorian ideas about gender.
  • The relationship between the articulation of the ancient in Victorian poetry and Pre-Raphaelite painting.
  • The impact of Pre-Raphaelite receptions of antiquity on later Victorian art and criticism (Possible subjects might include Oscar Wilde’s art criticism and Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations).

However, contributions beyond the scope of those listed here will also be considered on a case-by-case basis, where a clear argument for strengthening the diversity of the collection can be made.


Those interested in contributing should contact Dr Izabella Penier at De Gruyter Open ( with the suggested subject for their submission.

All submissions should follow the guidance at the below link:
The deadline for expressions of interest will be 30 September  2017, and for final manuscript submissions 30 September 2017.
Contributors should note that, as this edited collection will be published online, it will be possible to include any colour images included in submissions.

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