Katherine Mansfield: Inspirations and Influences

Katherine Mansfield: Inspirations and Influences Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland 5–7 July 2019

An international conference organised by the Katherine Mansfield Society Hosted by the Institute of English Studies, Jagiellonian University, Krakow Supported by Catholic University in Ružomberok, Slovakia Trnava University, Slovakia The New Zealand Embassy, Warsaw and the University of Northampton, UK


Professor Kirsty Gunn University of Dundee, UK


This international conference celebrates the diversity of influences which inspired acclaimed New Zealand modernist short story writer, Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923). From her upbringing in Wellington, New Zealand, her schooling in London, and her return to Europe at the age of nineteen to begin her career as a writer, Mansfield’s short life was inevitably influenced by the people she met, the many places she visited or lived in, paintings she saw, music she played or listened to, trends in literature and the books she read, and the burgeoning film industry which she experienced both as an actor and an eager spectator. For example, the French Decadent and Symbolist movements would both have a lasting influence on Mansfield’s fiction. Indeed, echoes of, for example, the French symbolists, Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde and the Decadents are to be found in much of her prose writing. As Sydney Janet Kaplan argues,

Pater and Symons provided techniques that Mansfield would use later to uncover, at its deepest level, the culturally determined condition of women. By importing symbolist devices into realistic fiction, Mansfield exemplifies how the malebonded nineteenth-century aesthetes became absorbed into the twentieth-century feminist consciousness.

Most modern critics agree that Mansfield’s own unique form of Modernism was not so much derivative of other contemporary writers but was rather a product of her symbiosis of late-nineteenth-century techniques and themes, as outlined above, for the most part introduced through her reading of Symons when her tastes and preferences started to take shape and she began, with the Symbolists and the Decadents as her dominant influences, to write the sort of fiction which was committed to the possibilities of narrative experimentation.


In the years following her death, Mansfield herself would become an inspiration for – and influence on – other writers, including Elizabeth Bowen, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, as well as the Patron of the Katherine Mansfield Society, author Professor Kirsty Gunn. Indeed, one of Mansfield’s early biographers, Ian Gordon, writes, ‘She had the same kind of direct influence on the art of the short story as Joyce had on the novel. After Joyce and Katherine Mansfield neither the novel nor the short story can ever be quite the same again’.

Suggested topics for papers might include (but are not limited to):

• KM and New Zealand • KM and Russia • KM and France • KM and Poland • KM and Bavaria • KM and Switzerland  KM and Symbolism • KM and the fin-de-siècle • KM and A. R. Orage • KM and her contemporaries • KM and World War 1 • KM and modernity/the modern • KM and her literary legacy • KM and music • KM and film • KM and fine arts

Abstracts of 200 words, together with a bio-sketch, should be sent to the conference organisers: Dr Janka Kascakova, Catholic University in Ružomberok, Slovakia Dr Gerri Kimber, University of Northampton, UK Dr Władysław Witalisz, Institute of English Studies, Jagiellonian University, Krakow at kms@katherinemansfieldsociety.org.

Submission deadline: 1 February 2019.

Cfp: Short Forms and Adolescence – University of Angers, June 19-21, 2019

The concept of adolescence, which emerged in a 19th-century occidental context, has evolved towards the birth of “the teenage group as a specific age in life” (C. Cannard, 2012). Several research projects have dealt with the cultural landscape of adolescents (a broader term than “teenager”, both of which are worth exploring), yet the specific articulations of adolescence and short forms have mostly remained uncharted. Moreover, while academic research on short forms and childhood has been carried out, these forms have rarely been addressed in the context of young adulthood.

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