PROGRAMME Easter 2022

All Senior Members, Graduate Students, and Academic Visitors Welcome


Seminars will take place in GR06/07 at 5pm.


3rd May: Dr Sophie Read (Cambridge): 'Modernist Metaphysics: Empson, Donne and the Science of Feeling'

This paper concerns, in a roundabout sort of a way, the effect of the publication of Herbert Grierson’s influential anthology, Metaphysical Lyrics and Poems (1921). In particular, I’m interested in what Grierson’s pioneering scholarship does for the reception and study of John Donne - its leading light - in the decades that follow. T. S. Eliot is an early adopter, and an influential proponent and disseminator of Grierson’s vision of a dynamic modernist Donne, but he quickly loses interest - unlike William Empson, to whose career as both poet and critic Donne remains central for more than half a century. The main task of the paper will be to read Empson’s Donne, then Donne and Empson together, in an attempt to find lines of sympathy and mutual illumination. It will feature bracelets, soap, compasses, bicycles, globes, puppies, space travel, relativity theory and puddles.

If you can, please register on Eventbrite before coming (but there will certainly be tickets on the door if you don't manage!):

Zoom link for remote participants:
Meeting ID: 996 5865 5933
Passcode: 403957

Forthcoming meetings (please note change of speaker for 24/5: Michael Schoenfeldt's talk is postponed)

10th May: Joe Moshenska (Oxford), 'Edmund Spenser’s Cannibal Metaphysics and the Ontological Turn'

In the last few decades, a group of anthropologists including Marilyn Strathern, Roy Wagner, Philippe Descola and others have sought to find ways of attending to the ontologies of indigenous non-Western peoples in ways that do not reduce them to elaborate or imperfect versions of European ontologies. This body of work, which has come to be known as the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology, has, as yet, had little impact on literary studies. In the first part of this paper I will bring the writing one of the most innovative and exciting of these anthropological thinkers – Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, and especially his book Cannibal Metaphysics – into dialogue with Spenser’s Faerie Queene. Doing so, I argue, opens up new perspectives not just on but within that poem. In the second part I will ask what is at stake in forms of cross-temporal juxtaposition of this kind, and argue that reading Spenser with Viveiros de Castro allows us to think of criticism as a way of generating new possibilities of relation.
If you can, please register on Eventbrite before coming (but there will certainly be tickets on the door if you don't manage!):

Zoom link for remote attendants:

Meeting ID: 938 8027 9809
Passcode: 623928

Please email Sophie Read (scnr2) by 12.00 on Monday if you would like to join the speaker for dinner at the Mill afterwards.

24th May: Maggie Kilgour (McGill), 'On First Looking into Milton's Folio'