Monthly Archives: May 2013

Talk on ‘Byron’s War’ – Cambridge University Press bookshop

Cambridge University Press Bookshop is pleased to be hosting a talk on Byron’s War.

Roderick Beaton will be discussing his new book Byron’s War which offers a fresh perspective on the life and work of the Romantic poet Lord Byron, and in particular his relationship with Greece.

Monday 17th June, 6-8pm

Cambridge University Press Bookshop
1 Trinity Street, Cambridge, CB2 1SZ

The talk is free to attend.

‘Byron’s War changes our understanding of what Byron was trying to do in Greece, and will be the starting point for all subsequent discussions of the topic.’
Professor David Roessel, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

To secure your place, please email

‘Things’ seminar

The next session of the seminar series ‘Things: Early Modern Material Cultures’ will meet on Tuesday 28th May at 12.30pm in the Seminar Room, Alison Richard Building, West Road. Dr Melanie Vandenbrouck (National Maritime Museum), Felicity Powell (Artist), and Ben Carpenter (University of Wolverhampton) will talk about ‘Handling Things’. All are very welcome to attend the seminar, and to join the speakers afterwards for lunch.

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Read All About It: Wrongdoing in Spain and England in the Long Nineteenth Century

An exhibition of nineteenth-century Spanish and English pamphlets and broadsides illustrating wrongdoing, crime and retribution; why did people behave badly, and how did others find out what they had been up to? The display includes tales of bandits, pirates, murderesses, poisoners and many more malefactors in highly (and gruesomely) illustrated detail.

This exhibition is on display at the University Library until December, and is free to view.  More information on the curation of the exhibition, and its content, can be found here.

Field Notes: Histories of Archaeology and Anthropology

On Thursday 23rd May Dr Charlotte Roberts will address the Field Notes seminar group on ‘Living with the Ancient Romans: Past and Present in Eighteenth-Century Encounters with Herculaneum and Pompeii’. Dr Melissa Calaresu will act as discussant. The group meets at 1.30pm at CRASSH, in seminar room SG1, and all are welcome to attend.


The eighteenth-century ‘discovery’ of the buried cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii revolutionised the way in which individuals thought about their relationship with the ancient world.  The accounts of British visitors written between the start of the official excavations in 1738 and the end of the century reflect a new historical sensibility, one predicated upon the extraordinary proximity between present and past that these sites seemed to ensure.  This new way of looking at the ancient world challenged many of the established models of classical engagement that dominated European and especially British culture in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  Herculaneum and Pompeii offered the possibility of an encounter with the ancient world that might not only rival Rome but compensate for some of the shortcomings and disappointments experienced by visitors to that ancient city.

This communal, cultural response to the ruins of these cities does not mean, however, that the eighteenth-century influence of Herculaneum and Pompeii was purely decorative, nostalgic or sentimental.  Particular voices emerge strongly from the mass of writings inspired by these sites, and the particular closeness between present and past associated with the excavations allows several individuals to shape and develop unique political and intellectual arguments.  In this paper I will outline some of the main ideas and images that are characteristic of the eighteenth-century response to the excavation of Herculaneum and Pompeii, but I will also examine the way in which these broad ideas were echoed, altered or appropriated by individual thinkers, such as J.J. Winckelmann and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who used them to articulate innovative and expansive points of view.  I hope that this discussion will provide an opportunity to reflect on the diversity of the eighteenth-century reception of the ancient world; the scope and influence of early archaeology on disciplines other than antiquarianism, and the relationship between cultural and intellectual history in our own understandings of the past.

Collecting Cultures: the Eighteenth Century

Some news about a joint event being held by two of the UK’s other eighteenth-century centres.  The Birmingham Eighteenth-Century Centre (BECC) and the Warwick Eighteenth-Century Centre will be holding their joint annual workshop on Wednesday 29th May, 2013.  The workshop, on ‘Collecting Cultures’ will be held at the Heritage Hub, European Research Institute Building, University of Birmingham.  The programme and poster for the event can be viewed below.  Attendance is free, but please email the organisers by the 22nd May to book your place.

BECC 2013 Workshop Programme

BECC 2013 Workshop Poster

Eighteenth Century Seminar

The History Faculty’s Eighteenth Century Seminar will meet once this term, on Tuesday 14th May at 5pm in the Robert Gardner Room, Front Court, Emmanuel College. The theme for this seminar will be ‘Global Science in the Eighteenth Century’ and the speakers will be Professor Neil Safier, from the University of British Columbia, and Professor Simon Schaffer, from the University of Cambridge. All are welcome.

‘Things’ seminar

The next session of the seminar series ‘Things: Early Modern Material Cultures’ will meet on Tuesday 14th May at 12.30pm in the Seminar Room, Alison Richard Building, West Road. Dr Elaine Leong (Max Planck Institute, Berlin) and Dr Helen Smith (University of York) will talk about ‘Paper, Making, Things’.  All are very welcome to the seminar, and to join the speakers afterwards for lunch.

Dr Elaine Leong (Max Planck Institute, Berlin): ‘Paper Slips, Notebooks and Health Management’
Upon her death in 1688, Margaret Boscawen of Tregothnan, Cornwall, left bundles of loose paper slips and six paper notebooks of different shapes and sizes all filled to the brim with useful medical and household know-how. From gardening advice to recipes for particular cures to lists of beneficial distilled waters to external indices correlating to Boscawen’s printed medical books, the notebooks and slips contain and represent the wide scope of her practical knowledge. Focusing on Boscawen’s collection of paper notebooks and paper slips, I examine how one woman created and organized her collection of practical know-how and argue that Boscawen utilized the materiality of paper, pen and ink to categorize and codify household practical knowledge.

Dr Helen Smith (University of York): ‘Paper Technologies’
This ‘paper’ explores the use of what we might broadly term paper technologies in early modern England, from fold-out diagrams and volvelles to do-it-yourself death masks and decoupage. By turning attention to the formation and deformation of paper (and its use as a conceptual as well as practical tool), I hope to suggest the significance of paper as a flexible technology across a range of contexts, and to argue that paper does not simply receive the imprint of meaning but participates in the construction and articulation (not least in the sense of being ‘distinctly jointed or marked’) of knowledge.

Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies Graduate Seminar

The eighteenth-century and Romantic studies graduate seminar will meet for the last time this term on Thursday 9th May. Dr John Regan will talk about ‘Ambiguous Progress and Its Verse Correlatives: How Stadial History Shaped Eighteenth-century Poetics’. All are very welcome to join us for the presentation and discussion, and to celebrate the last session of the year. More information about our speaker and his research can be found on our seminar page.

Dr Louise Joy at CRASSH

As part of the CRASSH Fellows’ Work in Progress seminar series, Dr Louise Joy will talk about her work Literature’s Children: On Re-Reading Childhood Classics on Thursday 9th May between 12.30pm and 2.00pm in the CRASSH meeting room in the Alison Richard building. All are welcome, but please email Michelle Maciejewska if you wish to attend and to request readings. A sandwich lunch and refreshments will be provided. Please visit the CRASSH seminar page to find out more about Louise and her research.