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Lectures and Seminars

At Durham University you'll find an extensive programme of public lectures and seminars. With an impressive line up of experts and renowned academics speaking on a myriad of topics, the aim is to share knowledge and encourage debate. Lectures on thought provoking subjects as diverse as history and astro-physics are aimed at a general audience and delivered at various locations across the University. Lectures in the Castle Public Lecture Series take place within the Great Hall of historic Durham Castle, while the Institute of Advanced Study hosts a year round programme of inter-disciplinary lectures. Our Museums offer public lectures to accompany exhibitions and events and our Colleges celebrate that they are scholary communities with series' such as Cafe Politique, Cafe Scientifique and Cafe des Arts.

Public lectures are free of charge and open to all.

Writing to the Moment: Walpole’s Letters

10th October 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 141
Tercentenary Lectures:Horace Walpole and His Legacies
Why read letters that were written over two hundred and fifty years ago? What are the special qualities of the letter as a form of writing, and what special insights into social and cultural history do letters afford? This free public lecture to answer these questions and more, by looking at one of the most prominent letter writers of the eighteenth century, Horace Walpole. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

As the son of the first British Prime Minister, Horace Walpole was uniquely placed as an observer of eighteenth-century politics, but he was also a novelist and an art historian who perceived the possibilities of the letter as a work of art. Acknowledged by Sir Walter Scott as ‘the best letter writer in the English language’, Walpole was both a prolific correspondent and an impeccable stylist. His letters are magnificently diverse in subject matter, ranging from dogs and divorces, gambling and highwaymen, to gothic architecture, international politics, and the contemporary craze for hot-air ballooning.

This opening lecture in the Durham University series of Tercentenary Lectures: Horace Walpole and His Legacies will show how Walpole’s correspondence challenges our assumptions about the nature and function of letter writing. Walpole’s letters will be seen as acts of writing that embrace their own contradictory status: private and introspective, but also public and effusive, spontaneous and improvised, but also refashioned and curated for posterity.

Image credit: Letter from Horace Walpole to Hannah More (1788). Reproduced courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

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