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.
Creativity and Collaboration: The Case of The Mysterious Mother
With its themes of incest and horror, Horace Walpole's gothic drama was certainly compelling. Explore more in this free public lecture from our Walpole and His Legacies series. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.
Incestuous sexuality, clerical corruption, and horrors piling implacably upon horrors: Horace Walpole’s Gothic tragedy, The Mysterious Mother (1768), is one of the most extraordinary closet dramas of the eighteenth century. Though unperformed—and perhaps even ‘unperformable’—in its own day, the play was nonetheless highly influential upon Gothic writing, both dramatic and fictional, towards the end of the century, its outrageous subject matter only rivaled by such later Romantic works as John Polidori’s Ernestus Berchtold (1819) and P. B. Shelley’s The Cenci (1819). The circumstances surrounding the conceptualization, writing, and eventual publication of The Mysterious Mother are as intriguing as the play itself, and have much to tell us about Horace Walpole’s approach to such crucial matters as collaboration, gender, sexuality, ‘genius’, and the process of literary creation. Drawing upon a range of visual, archival, and lesser-known published resources, this lecture offers a fresh consideration of Walpole’s understudied drama, reassessing not only its place within the writer’s oeuvre, but its relation to the history of Gothic and Romantic literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries more generally.
Image credit: Illustration for The Mysterious Mother, by Lady Diana Beauclerk (1776). Reproduced courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.
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