Dr Mathelinda Nabugodi lectures on ‘Romanticism and the Black Atlantic’, Tuesday 21 March

Image credit: Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) (1840), Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Romanticism and the Black Atlantic

7.30pm-8.45pm on Tuesday 21 March

West Court, Jesus College

In the wake of calls to decolonise the curriculum, what is the Romantic period’s legacy in our own time?

Romanticism is best known as a movement celebrating political and imaginative liberty – the human mind freeing itself from the shackles of tradition. But Romanticism also coincided with the apex of the transatlantic slave trade.

In this Cambridge Festival Lecture, Dr Mathelinda Nabugodi will draw on her current work-in-progress, The Trembling Hand: Reflections of a Black Woman in the Romantic Archive, which examines objects found in the archives of the major Romantic poets: unexpected treasures such as Wordsworth’s teacup, Shelley’s baby rattle, or Byron’s carnival mask. In the wake of calls to decolonise the curriculum, Mathelinda will explain how poets’ relics can prompt wide-ranging reflection on the Romantic period’s legacy in our own time – its poetic ideals as well as its painful realities.

The lecture will focus on poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was a student at Jesus College. Starting with Coleridge’s time at Jesus, where he won a prize for an Ode on the Slave Trade written in Sapphic Greek, she will uncover some of the links between the poetry of freedom and the practices of slavery in the Romantic period.

The lecture forms part of Jesus College’s Coleridge 250 series, a commemoration of this controversial figure marking 250 years since Coleridge’s birth.