Late Summer Lectures 2018

The theme for 2018 Late Summer Lectures series was ‘Beginnings and Endings’. The series saw us move from medieval snake-women to death in Victorian literature – with topics such as early sound film and the burning of Shakespeare’s Globe along the way.

The Stream of Consciousness in William Wordsworth and James Joyce, by Adam James Cuthbert

Imagine yourself immersed in a beautiful landscape, and being moved by the view before your eyes. To remember the experience, perhaps you might take a photograph. But while a photograph can snap a single moment, a still image doesn’t really reflect the way your original experience unfolded through time. Can writing achieve something different? Both William Wordsworth and James Joyce were interested in the problem of how to represent the continuous stream of conscious experience. Adam James Cuthbert trains his eye on the poetry and fiction that they produced, and suggests that their literary efforts can be understood through an analogy with the camera. Read more about this talk here.

Shakespeare, Henry VIII, and the day the Globe burned down, by Laura Jayne Wright

When we say that a theatre performance ‘brought the house down’, we usually don’t mean that literally. But in the case of Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII, or as it’s sometimes known, All is True, the phrase really does apply. In a performance in 1613 a stray spark from a cannon ignited a fire that burned the Globe Theatre to the ground. In fact, throughout its chequered history of performance, this play has suffered or enjoyed a variety of different climaxes. All of which makes Laura Jayne Wright (University of Oxford), wonder: just what is the real ending of a work of drama? Read more about this talk here.

Registers of petition in the holograph manuscripts of Thomas Hoccleve, by Laurie Atkinson

Durham University’s Palace Green Library is home to many medieval manuscripts, but among the most precious is one of just three surviving collections of poetry written by the hand of one Thomas Hoccleve – fourteenth-century civil servant, letter writer, and poet. Laurie Atkinson puts some of Hoccleve’s literary output under the reading lamp, as he argues that this disremembered figure deserves to seen in his own right rather than hidden in the shadow of his immediate poetic predecessor, Geoffrey Chaucer. Read more about this talk here.

Snake Women: Crafting Power in Medieval Origin Stories, by Olivia Colquitt

Think of a medieval romance, and you might imagine brave courtly knights dashing to the rescue of women held captive by monstrous beasts and dragons. But think again. Olivia Colquitt introduces us to the 14th-century Mélusine story, in which the beautiful woman is not all that she seems and it is the man who ends up in need of a rescuer. Read more about this talk here.

(S)he’s just not that into you: Resisting Love in Medieval Romance Literature, by Hananh Piercy

The word ‘romance’ conjures images of men and women meeting one another and falling helplessly in love. But if we trace the literature of ‘romance’ back to its roots in the medieval period, we encounter many stories where chivalric knights and ladies refuse or fail to conform to convention. Hannah Piercy takes us on a tour through some of this historic writing of the heart – though she starts with an example that is much closer to home. Read more about this talk here.

Beginnings and Endings in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, by Simona Martorana

“Vivam!” “I will live.” The final word of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, proclaiming the poet’s hope that he will continue to be known through his great work. It’s a prediction that of course turns out to be true, as we’re still reading and influenced by the Metamorphoses 2000 years after it was written. In this podcast, Simona Martorana helps us to appreciate why the cast of mythical characters that inhabit the Metamorphoses still survive in our imagination and culture today. Read more about this talk here.

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