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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Visual Evidence (Ghosts - the Evidence of Spirits) Public Lecture series : 'We talked about Ghosts...': John Keats' Shadows

2nd February 2016, 18:15, Room ER140, Elvet Riverside Building, Professor Nicholas Roe (University of St Andrews)

"...and it sure must be

Almost the highest bliss of human kind,

When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee."

The closing lines of John Keats’s first published poem, ‘To Solitude’, speak of escaping to an otherworld of ‘haunts’ and ‘kindred spirits’. Perhaps this isn't surprising, given the deaths of his father, mother, brother, grandmother and other relatives, and his harrowing duties at Guy’s Hospital. Keats talked about ghosts with his friends, recalled that Coleridge told him a ghost story, and populated his poems with numerous ghosts and shadows. The narrative in Isabella turns upon a ghostly encounter, as does ‘Ode on Indolence’; in ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ being ‘here’ is to grow ‘pale, and spectre-thin’, while the full-fruited stanzas of ‘To Autumn’ are aware of an elusive presence ‘like a gleaner’, glimpsed ’by a cyder-press’.

In this talk Prof Roe wants to explore the lure of the ghostly in Keats, and what his realms of shadows may tells us about his poetic achievement.

The project consists of three separate, but complementary strands: a lecture series, an exhibition on ‘Ghost Stories’ held in October 2015 at the Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre; and a one-day workshop to take place at the IAS on 23 February 2016. Lectures will be held fortnightly on commencing 13 October at 6:15pm in Elvet Riverside 140. Lectures and the exhibition are open to all, though attendees at the opening event of the exhibition will need to register in advance.

For more information on this series of events, please click on this link.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Map - Elvet Riverside is denoted as building No. 25

Contact for more information about this event.