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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

In Memoriam: The Death of the Elegy?

28th September 2011, 17:30 to 18:30, Alington House, Durham, Naomi Banks-Marklew

A Late Summer Public Lecture organised by postgraduates in the Department of English Studies.

‘All great literature is about sex and death’, according to Woody Allen. Sex has been a popular topic for readers during recent decades and has ceased to be a taboo, while death, which was perhaps the most popular topic for poetry in the Victorian age, is now something we’d rather not think or read about. What does this mean for the elegy, the genre of poetry devoted to memorialising the dead? In fact, poetry itself has become increasingly ‘specialist’, with a dwindling readership, especially outside academia. Is there still a place within contemporary literature for poetry that deals with the painful subject of death? Could we imagine a poem of mourning becoming a best-seller in our time, as Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ did in the mid-nineteenth century? This lecture will provide some answers to these questions by giving an overview of the genre of elegy. It will seek to suggest ways in which poetry might help to overcome some of the silence that can surround the twenty-first century experience of grief.

Contact late-summer.lectures@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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