Faith and the Fin de Siècle : an online conference

Saturday, 1st August 2020. Somewhere in the ether …

An online conference in the true Chavagnes Chesterbellocian spirit ….   but 100% “virtual”.

This year our conference took place in a virtual online environment provided by ZOOM and brought together in our usual convivial atmosphere friends from around the globe. This year we had participants from the USA, England, Malta, Croatia and France. 

You are welcome to watch all the talks here, free of charge. We hope you will enjoy them. If you would like to leave a small donation you can do that here:

DURING OUR ONLINE CONFERENCE, we all enjoyed adequate and tasty refreshments, solid and liquid, to help us better enjoy the proceedings. Good cheer is very much a part of our spirit.

Here was the programme  …

Arthur Rimbaud

“Arthur Rimbaud: Catholicism and the Art of Blasphemy”, Robert Asch.

“Charles Péguy, the French Catholic Revival and a little girl called Hope”, Ferdi McDermott.

“A Portrait of Oscar Wilde and the Landscape of Decadence”, Joseph Pearce.

“Black Butterflies: the Life and Work of Olive Custance, Lady Alfred Douglas”, Ferdi McDermott.

“Dark Angel : Lionel Johnson revisited”, Robert Asch.

Finally, we welcomed our old friend Professor Anthony O’Hear OBE who gave a moving personal tribute to his dear friend, the late Sir Roger Scruton (pictured right) who died earlier this year.

Videos of the talks are available below.


 The speakers

This year’s conference, although 100% online, brought together three old English friends who’ve known and loved each other for almost a quarter century: Ferdi McDermott, founder of StAR (Saint Austin Review) in 2000 and of Chavagnes International College in 2002, with Robert Asch and Joseph Pearce, founding editors of StAR and accomplished Catholic literary scholars.

After working together with Ferdi and Robert on various literary projects in London in the 1990s, Joseph began a teaching and writing career in the USA where he now lives, in Dixieland, with his lovely wife Susannah and their children. He has published many books on Catholic and literary themes and continues to promote Catholic faith and culture through Saint Austin Review and his work at the Augustine Institute, a private Catholic graduate institution that aims to answer Pope John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization. He is also a visiting professor of Chavagnes Studium.

For ten years Robert worked at Chavagnes, teaching English and History.  After teaching in Spain, then a stint as a full-time journalist, he now lives in Lancashire with his wife, the poet Ruth Asch (whom he met at Chavagnes), and their growing family.  He is a visiting professor at Chavagnes Studium and has recently completed an important work on Lionel Johnson the Catholic decadent poet. It should be published this year.

At the same time as leading Chavagnes International College with its Studium, Ferdi is completing a doctorate in education as well as preparing the definitive biography and collected poetry of Olive Custance. He curates the site

These three friends are joined by the distinguished philosopher and writer Professor Anthony O’Hear OBE who has been a great supporter of Chavagnes for over a decade and who is regular contributor to our conferences as well as a visiting professor at Chavagnes Studium.

Here you can listen to some of the talks from the Chavagnes 2019 conference:

And here are some highlights from our 2018 conference, to give you a feel of what Chavagnes conferences are like :