We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

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.

Patriotism and Dissent: Anna Laetitia Barbauld and the Pleasures of the Imagination

15th November 2018, 18:15 to 19:15, St Chad's College Chapel, Dr Emma Major (University of York)

We are pleased to present the annual Memorial Lecture, commemorating the work of our former lecturer Dr Robin Dix. This year's lecture will look at the literary relationship between Anna Laetitia Barbauld and Mark Akenside.

In 1794 the Dissenting poet Anna Laetitia Barbauld published an introductory essay for a new edition of Mark Akenside’s The Pleasures of the Imagination (1744). Barbauld had long admired Akenside – his influence is evident in her magnificent early poem ‘A Summer Evening’s Meditation’ – but Akenside’s civilised poetics held a particular appeal in the turbulent years following the French Revolution. In this lecture I will discuss why Akenside’s celebration of the ‘natural and moral advantages resulting from a sensible and well-formed imagination’ was so prized by Dissenters such as Barbauld. The pleasures of the imagination had, for them, become increasingly important, and were central to their hopes for a literary and patriotic future in which poetry could transform a country riven by political and denominational differences.

About the Robin Dix Memorial Lecture

The annual Robin Dix memorial lecture commemorates the life and work of a Lecturer in the Department of English Studies, Dr Robin Dix (1956-2007). Dr Dix was a specialist in eighteenth-century writing and thought, particularly the writings of Mark Akenside, the Newcastle physician and poet. Previous memorial lectures have been delivered by Professor Fiona Price (University of Chichester), Professor Ewan Fernie, Professor Harriet Guest (University of York), Professor Nicholas Roe (University of St Andrews), and Emeritus Professor Andrew Sanders (Durham University).

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.

Follow English Studies on Social Media

Research English At Durham Facebook Twitter Mixcloud

Next Event