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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

The Persistence of Beauty Lecture Series

Focusing on British, Irish, and American authors (including Hart Crane, W.H Auden, George Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Louis MacNeice, Walt Whitman) of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this lecture series reflects on the ways that the Romantic and Post-Romantic imagination aspires towards an idealised notion of the beautiful as a harmonious, often transcendent, perfection to discover that such an ideal conception of beauty can only be represented through an ironic mode of representation. This ironic representation of beauty was bequeathed to later writers by the Romantic tradition and shows how an aspiration towards the beautiful confronts us with some of the most difficult and unbeautiful truths about the limitations of our contingent existences and the provisional nature of art itself. This realisation does not produce a diminishing commitment to the centrality of beauty for nineteenth- and twentieth- century writers and their aesthetic theories and practices but, if anything, renews and intensifies the persistent presence of the beautiful as the goal and shaping force of both Romantic and Post-Romantic writing.

All lectures take place at 6.15pm in Room 140, Elvet Riverside Building 

Date Name Title
17 January 2012 Dr Sarah Wootton Lamia Beauty and Problematic Sylphs in the Works of the Brontës and George Eliot
24 January 2012 Dr Robert Douglas-Fairhurst The Beauties of Charles Dickens
31 January 2012 Dr Simon J James Ugly Meanings in Beautiful Things: Reading and Desire in Fin-de-Siècle Fiction
7 February 2012 Dr Seamus Perry The Beauties of T. S. Eliot
14 February 2012 Dr Mark Sandy 'Enigmatical Beauty of Each Beautiful Enigma': The Persistent Poetics of Beauty and Death in Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens
21 February 2012 Dr Tony Sharpe W. H. Auden: The Loveliness that Is the Case
28 February 2012 Professor Angela Leighton Something, is it? On Frost, Bishop and Others
13 March 2012 Professor Michael O'Neill The Difficulty of Beauty: Hopkins, Yeats, Crane, Spender
1 May 2012 Dr Fran Brearton 'Beauty in Trouble': Robert Graves and Louis MacNeice