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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.

Staff/Postgraduate Research Seminar: ' From Epitaph to Obituary: The Forlorn Hic Jacet and the Romantic Writer,' by Dr Elizabeth Barry (University of Warwick)

7th May 2008, 16:30 to 18:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House

This paper will investigate the decline of the literary epitaph, and the concomitant rise of the newspaper obituary in eighteenth and early nineteenth century Europe.

It will explore the aesthetic and ethical debate over literary responses to death engaged in by writers such as Gray, Foscolo, Johnson, Wordsworth and Hazlitt. In particular, the question is raised of how far it is important that the words of the epitaph have what Wordsworth called a "close connection to the bodily remains of the deceased". What changes when the literary epitaph leaves the "mouldering grave" and takes a mobile and transmissible form? Aesthetic questions also mask political ones. How far does death offer an "all-uniting and all-universalising" perspective, as Wordsworth suggests?

The paper reflects on these questions in the context of the sociological history of death offered by scholars such as Philippe Aries, Jean-Didier Urbain and Armando Petrucci, and considers the wider significance of the epitaph and obituary in terms of national identity, politics and community.

Contact for more information about this event.


Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies


We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.


Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.

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