Graduate Seminar

The Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies Graduate Seminar meets regularly during term time.  Sessions are hosted and chaired by members of the English Faculty, and speakers are invited to address graduate students, senior faculty members and visitors on their particular area of expertise, with ample time for questions and discussion.  The seminar now meets at 5pm on Thursdays, in the English Faculty. Everybody is most welcome to attend.

Easter Term, 2018

26th April: ‘Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s Lessons: The Conversational Primer in Eighte enth-Century Britain’, Jessica Lim (University of Cambridge)
‘On Ashes: Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and the Philosophy of John Locke’, Dylan Carver (University of Cambridge)

In 1778 Anna Letitia Barbauld published a small book titled Lessons for Children Aged Two to Three Years. Over the next two years she extended this into a four-part collection. Twenty-two years later, Sarah Trimmer wrote of Lessons that the “well-known little books have the merit of being the first of their kind,” and only two years after Trimmer made that assessment, Charles Lamb angrily described how “that Cursed Barbauld Crew” had successfully dominated the children’s literature market with their books “in the shape of knowledge.” This paper explores the phenomenon of Lessons for Children by analysing Barbauld’s invocation of the figure of the parent-author and her use of the conversational mode. By illustrating the ways in which Barbauld’s principles of Rational Dissent inform the literary shape and content of Lessons for Children, a work emulated by a number of Barbauld’s contemporaries, this paper also suggests the significance of Rational Dissent in shaping late-eighteenth-century British children’s books. Suggested readings: Anna Letitia Barbauld, Lessons for Children Aged Two to Three Years (London: Joseph Johnson, 1778) – available on ECCO. Or: William McCarthy, ‘Mother of All Discourses: Anna Barbauld’s Lessons for Children‘, in Culturing the Child 1690 – 1914: Essays in Memory of Mitzi Myers, ed. Donelle Ruwe (Lanham, aryland: The Children’s Literature Association and Scarecrow Press, 2005), 85 – 111.

Few English poems have been as widely memorized as Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was a core element of various  curricula, and was frequently taught for recitation. But even before it was institutionally endorsed as one member of an emerging canon of specifically English “classics”, there were readers who wanted to learn it by heart. This kind of intimate familiarity––not only with the poem’s dense tissue of allusions, but also with its metre, rhythm, and complex vowel music––had the potential to unsettle Gray’s own theory of memory, which was strongly influenced by the philosophy of John Locke. Throughout his life, Gray read and annotated Locke’s works. The notes in his commonplace book suggest that he accepted Locke’s distinction between vital memory and (merely) pedagogically useful habit. However, in Gray’s elegy, and in its long reception history, the categories are shown to be impure: habit will sometimes tip over, into memory. Suggested optional reading: Thomas Gray’s Elegy. If there is time, you might also find it helpful to read Locke’s chapter ‘Of Retention’, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

Lent Term, 2018

18th January: ‘Occupying the Stage: Garrick, Ranger and the Expanse of Dramatic Character in the Mid-Eighteenth Century’
Prof. Ros Ballaster (University of Oxford)

1st February: ‘Revisiting Jane Austen as a Romantic Author in Literary Biopics’
Dr Sarah Wootton (Durham University)

15th February: ‘A. G. Baumgarten’s Theory of Fiction’
Prof. Frauke Berndt (University of Zurich)

1st March: ‘Lamb’s Embarrassed Readings’
Dr Stacey McDowell (University of Cambridge)

Michaelmas Term, 2017

19th October: *Wordsworth’s “Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty” and the British Revolutionary Past*
Dr Philip Connell (Cambridge)

2nd November: *Dr Johnson after Pennant: The (Re)transit of Caledonia*
Professor Nigel Leask (Glasgow)

23rd November: *Joseph Addison and Poetic Reluctance*
Dr Paul Davis (UCL)


Previous Seminars (2013-2017)


11th May: *Literature, Experiment and Eighteenth-Century Balloons*
Prof Clare Brant (KCL)

27th April: *What William Cave’s Historia Literaria (1688-98) and Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria (1817) have in common*
Alex Wright (Cambridge)

2nd February: *Pope at Buckingham House*
Dr Joseph Hone (Cambridge)

19th January: *Critical Forms: An Incomplete Catalogue of the Genres of Criticism*
Dr Ross Wilson (Cambridge)



24th November: *Romanticism in the Anthropocene*
Dr James Castell (Cardiff University)

3rd November: *Jane Austen’s Leftovers*
Dr Freya Johnston (University of Oxford)

20th October: *The Tea-Table, Gossip, and the Public Sphere in Early Eighteenth-Century Britain*
Professor Markman Ellis (QMUL)

5th May: *’There is safety in reserve, but no attraction’ (Frank Churchill): Reserve and Relationship in Mansfield Park and in eighteenth-century projections of the self*
Dr Fred Parker (University of Cambridge)

21st April: *Redefining the female literary coterie: Swift’s Dublin Triumfeminate and the ghost of Constantia Gierson*
Professor Christine Gerrard (University of Oxford)

25th February: *The Olfactory Imagination: Smell, Materialism & Metaphor in the 18th Century*
Dr Rowan Boyson (King’s College London)

11th February: *Homer after Pope*
Dr Henry Power (Exeter University)

28th January: *Charles Churchill in Byron’s Early Satires*
Dr Clare Bucknell (University of Oxford)

14th January: *The Experience of Everything: Romantic Writing & Post-Kantian Philosophy*
Professor Paul Hamilton (Queen Mary University of London)


3rd December: *To Know the Causes of Things: Making Mid-Eighteenth Century Georgics*
Dr Paddy Bullard (University of Reading), chaired by Alex Wright

19th November: *Poems in Miniature: Eighteenth-Century Poetry and the Critical Child*
Dr Louise Joy (University of Cambridge), chaired by Dr Natasha Simonova

5th November: *The Lines of the Eighteenth Century: Conceptualizing Drama, 1700-1780*
James Harriman-Smith (Newcastle University), chaired by Dr Christopher Tilmouth

22nd October: *Wordsworth’s Orbicular Poetics*
Dr Tom Owens (University of Cambridge), chaired by Dr Fred Parker

7th May: *The erotics of disgust: John Cleland and sensibility*
Dr Rebecca Barr (NUI Galway)

23rd April: *Writing happiness (Wordsworth, Kant, Wordsworth)*
Alexander Freer (University of Cambridge)

12th February: *The Temporal Structure of Wordsworth’s Spots of Time*
Tess Somervell (University of Cambridge)

29th January: *Designing a Letter: Johnson after Pope*
Dr Louise Curran (University of Oxford)

15th January: *’Andromache, at the tomb of Hector, &c.’: Revisiting De Quincey’s Opera Pleasures*
Dr Miranda Stanyon (University of Cambridge)


20th November: *Nature as guarantee for peace: Coleridge and Kant in the late 1790s*
Dr Monika Class (University of Konstanz), chaired by Dr Sarah Haggarty (University of Cambridge)

23rd October: *Immersing the Network in Time: From the Where to the When of Print Reading*
Dr Christina Lupton (University of Warwick)

6th November: *Cowper, Newton, and the Redemption of Time*
Dr Sarah Haggarty (University of Cambridge)

9th October: *The Author of the True-born Englishman and the English People*
Marc Mierowsky (University of Cambridge)

24th April: *Sentimental Ironies*
Dr Christopher Tilmouth (University of Cambridge)

27th February: *The Study of Poetry in General: Wordsworth*
Dr Jamie Baxendine (University of Cambridge)

12th February: *From Sentiment to Melodrama*
Professor James Chandler (University of Chicago)

30th January: *Disfigured Bodies: Gendering Caricature in Edgeworth’s Belinda*
Dr David Francis Taylor (University of Toronto)

16th January: *Listening to Time in the Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century*
Dr Marcus Tomalin (University of Cambridge)


21st November: *Art Mattocks: rhythm, accompaniment and the lyric instrument in Wordsworth’s “Simon Lee”*
Dr Corinna Russell (University of Cambridge)

7th November: *Experience and experiment in Methodist literature*
Emma Salgard Cunha (University of Cambridge)

24th October: *Isaac Watts and Early Eighteenth-Century Childhood Interiority*
Kate Wakely-Mulroney (University of Cambridge)

10th October: *The Bonds of Sentiment: Affect, Abolition, and the Cultural Politics of Sensibility*
Dr Stephen Ahern (Acadia University and Academic Visitor 2013-14, University of Cambridge)

9th May: *Ambiguous Progress and Its Verse Correlatives: How Stadial History Shaped Eighteenth-century Poetics*
Dr John Regan (University of Cambridge), chaired by Dr Charlotte Roberts

25th April: *Authorial Self-Consciousness in Eighteenth-Century Georgic Writing*
Professor Frans de Bruyn (University of Ottawa), chaired by James Harriman-Smith

28th February: *The Lamb Coterie 1808-1818: The Critical Moment*
Dr Gregory Dart (University College London), chaired by Dr Corinna Russell

14th February: *The Scandal of Tautology*
Dr Ewan Jones (University of Cambridge), chaired by Professor Peter de Bolla

31st January: *‘The Re-Rise of the Novel, 1750-1820*
Professor Karen O’Brien (University of Birmingham), chaired by Dr Louise Joy

17th January: *Jane Austen and Gilpin’s Picturesque*
Dr Katherine Halsey, chaired by Dr Sophie Read (University of Stirling)