Moveable Type


2018-2019: Decadence (Volume XI)

Jupiter and Semele
Gustave Moreau, Jupiter and Semele, c. 1894-1895, oil on canvas, Musée National Gustave-Moreau, Paris. 

From a neutral term for 'decline', decadence has transformed over the centuries into a laden term invoked to signify decay, as well as a warning against the dangers of excess and the pursuit of pleasure. Perceived as a disruptive force, dangerous to social order and bourgeois normativity, the threat of decadence is invoked in modern political rhetoric to stoke anxieties over shifts in traditional values and social mores, as well as the looming threat of an irretrievable loss of geopolitical power. Yet in spite of the term's connotations, an identifiable decadent ethos has been embraced by writers, artists, and 'othered' individuals as modes of expression, as well as rebellion against and liberation from social strictures. Unlike the Romantic sublime, wherein the material self is abandoned in an upward sweep of simultaneous ecstasy and terror, the decadent sublime embraces the downward plunge into materiality. It is this inverse sublime that theorists such as Georges Bataille discuss as an expérience limite, or 'limit-experience', a driving, luxurious expenditure of energy that pushes against sensory boundaries. Translating into varying types of physically-infused aesthetic expressions, this decadent limit-experience is a subversive mode that deconstructs and challenges both audience sensibilities and popular standards of taste. Volume XI of Moveable Type explores this intersection of excess, subversion and deconstruction through various iterations of decadence across different texts and time periods.

Editor's Foreword

Sarah-Jean Zubair: Editor's Foreword: 'Decadence', Moveable Type, Vol. XI 


Rebekkah Dilts: ‘The Queen of Decadence’: Rachilde and Sado-Masochistic Feminism 

Ray Huling: Bataillean Ecology: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Excess

James Jackson: Decadence, Homoeroticism, and the Turn Towards Nature in James Bidgood's Pink Narcissus

Dr. Stephen Newton: 'Born to Be Wild': Postmodern Decadence at the 1996 Republican National Convention

Dr. Larry Shillock: From Decadence to Degeneration: The Big Sleep, Its Forceful Plot, and a Femme Fatale 'still in the dangerous twenties'

Ali Zamanpour: Creatureliness and Planetary Decadence in Rawi Hage's Carnival


Katie Arthur: Unwatchable, edited by Nicholas Baer, Maggie Hennefeld, Laura Horak and Gunnar Iversen.

Kimberley Challis: Beginning at the End: Decadence, Modernism, and Postcolonial Poetry by Robert Stilling.

Dr. Kay J. Walter: Forgetfulness: Making the Modern Culture of Amnesia by Francis O’Gorman.

Christopher Webb: Idleness and Aesthetic Consciousness, 1815-1900 by Richard Adelman.