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To kick off the theme of 'Body and Mind' for this year's Late Summer Lecture series, our first two papers will be discussing physical and mental wellbeing as seen through the lens of 18th century writers such as Percy Shelley, John Keats, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
'Unbodied Joy': Birds and Embodiment in Shelley and Keats
Dr Amanda Blake Davis (University of Sheffield)
The bodies of living birds in Keats and Shelley’s poetry are cast off in favour of ethereal song in poems such as ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, composed in the presence of a living nightingale outside Keats’ Hampstead home, and ‘To a Skylark’, in which Shelley glides between the ethereal and the material. This lecture will explore the Platonic implications of Keats and Shelley’s vacillations between body and mind through their depictions of birds.
The Happiness of the High-Wrought Mind: The Autobiographical Pursuit of Happiness in Eighteenth-Century Literature
Alex Hobday (University of Cambridge)
‘And, considering the question of human happiness, where, oh where does it reside? Has it taken up its abode with unconscious ignorance or with the high-wrought mind?’ Broken-hearted and soon to be deserted by the father of her child, Mary Wollstonecraft writes these words in her autobiographical travelogue Short Residence. Such questions echoed throughout eighteenth-century culture. What is happiness? And how can we achieve it?
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