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English PGR Seminar Series: Ruth Livesey – Thursday 30 November 2017
30th November 2017 @ 5:15 pm - 7:30 pmFree
You are warmly invited to the English Postgraduate Research Seminar with Professor Ruth Livesey. The event takes place Thursday 30th November at 5.15 pm in the Lock Keeper’s Cottage, Mile End campus. All are welcome.
‘On Writing from the Middle: Middlemarch, the Midlands, and Forms of Realism’
We are living through times – on both sides of the Atlantic – in which the middle seems to have shrunk to vanishing point. Whether it’s the middle-class downgraded to ‘precariat’, an age of political extremes, or the economic forces that restructure the British Midlands and Mid-West, the territories of middleness apparently are contracting.
This lecture locates Eliot’s Middlemarch in the social geography of the British Midlands, then as now, a complex mix of industry and agriculture than defines itself as the ‘heart’ of England, but sells itself through the ease of getting from there to somewhere else quite fast. It turns to Eliot’s novel to argue that the realist experiments at the heart of Middlemarch offer an alternative to the nostalgic pursuit of a lost middle. The text’s movements of scale between the universalising ‘everywhere’ of the sententious narrator and the tiny particularities of ‘just right here’ encode middleness as a continuous dynamic process.
Ruth Livesey is Professor in 19th Century Lit & Thought at the Department of English, Royal Holloway University of London. Her most recent book, Writing the Stage Coach Nation: Locality on the Move in Nineteenth-Century British Literature was published by Oxford University Press in September 2016. She completed the research for this study thanks to the award of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and a visiting fellowship at the Huntington Library in 2012-13. She is currently working on a new book-length project on George Eliot and her reading and re-writing of Midlands localism with the support of a College RSF grant.
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