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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Inventions of the Text Seminar Series

Inventions of the Text complements our Research Seminar series. Inventions is organised by a team of postgraduate researchers, and combines papers by academics from Durham and beyond with presentations by PhD students. Seminars run roughly every couple of weeks during term time, with around eight or nine events a year. After each seminar, attendees are welcome to socialise with the speaker(s) over dinner. They are generally for University staff and students, although sometimes open to the public.

Forthcoming Inventions of the Text Seminars

Inventions of the Text

Earth of Eternity: Shelley and Existence

14th November 2019, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr. Madeleine Callaghan (University of Sheffield)

An Inventions of the Text seminar.

Eternity, in its philosophical and religious appearances, might seem at odds with Shelley’s professed atheism; yet Shelley never lost sight of it, as separate from Christian meanings as he could manage, but nevertheless frequently borrowing its most characteristic descriptions. His poetry and prose reveal his attempt to write eternity rather than his confidence in achieving it. Though aiming at exploration of ‘previously uncharted realms’ he refuses any denial of fact or feigning of certainty. Shelley does not lay claim to eternity without testing its possibilities but more importantly, he acknowledges the existence of material reality even as he cannot bow to its power. Eternity is something that we crave and can sense in out mortal lives, but for Shelley, this is a particularly vexed desire in the absence of any divine architect. Faced with previous sages’ ‘records of their vain endeavour’ (‘Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’, 3. 28), Shelley explores new possibilities of imagining the eternal, attempting to go beyond those thinkers in an audacious attempt to write ‘the unascended heaven’ (Prometheus Unbound, 3. 2. 203).

Contact for more information about this event.

Past Inventions of the Text Seminars