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English PGR Seminar Series: David Higgins – Thursday 2 March 2017

2nd March 2017 @ 5:15 pm - 7:15 pm


‘Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe’ | Dr David Higgins, University of Leeds

5.15pm in the Lock-keeper’s Cottage, Mile End Campus.

Keeper’s Cottage, Mile End campus. All are welcome.

David Higgins is Associate Professor in English Literature at the University of Leeds, where he also convenes the Environmental Humanities Research Group. He has published widely on Romantic literature and culture, including the monographs Romantic Genius and the Literary Magazine (2005) and Romantic Englishness (2014). He holds an AHRC Leadership Fellowship for a project on British Romantic writing and environmental catastrophe and will publish British Romantic Writing and Climate Change: Writing Tambora this year.

Next week’s paper:

‘Planets turn to ashes’: Byron, Climate Change, and Extinction

While living in Switzerland during the summer of the 1816, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Shelley wrote and conceived some of the most important texts in British Romanticism. Their interest in natural philosophy, the terrible weather (caused largely by the eruption of Mount Tambora the previous year), and the sublime Alpine landscapes around Geneva caused them to reflect on the vulnerability of human communities living with uncontrollable natural forces, and the possibility of human extinction. This paper focuses on several poems by Byron that emerge from this period of intense creativity, including ‘Darkness’, Manfred, The Prisoner of Chillon, and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Drawing on recent work in the field of speculative realism, particularly the nihilistic philosophy of Raymond Brassier, I show how Byron shifts ambivalently between assertions of the sublime, world-defining power of the human imagination, and a sense of human fragili at a time of climate change.

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2nd March 2017
5:15 pm - 7:15 pm
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English PGRS


Lock-Keeper’s Cottage
Queen Mary University of London
Mile End Road, E1 4NS
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