Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies

The Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies, named for Sarah Cutts Frerichs AM’49 PhD’74, supports lectures on topics related to Victorian Studies — the study of English culture of the Victorian period — including, but not limited to, comparative literature, social and political history, and the histories of education, philosophy, fine arts, economics, law, and science.

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  • Register for this special seminar with Yoon Sun Lee.  

    Information on seminar location will accompany pre-circulated reading material. Luncheon be served at this seminar.

    Frankenstein occupies a place of special importance in literary history, in narrative theory, and in the history of modern ways of knowing. Shelley’s novel uses its narrative frames to position the creature within natural historical schemes of classification. But it also allows the creature to voice the advent of his own awareness of the world, and his place, or lack of place, in it. His experience and the narrative’s frames both depend on and push against each other in complex ways. This seminar will bring together Enlightenment natural history and phenomenology to examine the notions of race and narrative that emerge from the structure of Shelley’s novel. It will also consider the implications of taxonomy as a mode of knowledge that continues to be practiced in contemporary narrative theory.

    Yoon Sun Lee is a professor of English at Wellesley College. She publishes and teaches in several fields: British prose in the Romantic era, the 18th-century novel, Asian American literature, narrative theory, and literary theory. She is the author of Nationalism and Irony (Oxford University Press, 2004), and Modern Minority: Asian American Literature and Everyday Life (Oxford University Press, 2013), and her essays have appeared in journals and collections including Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Representations, The Cambridge Companion to Narrative Theory, The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel, and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Her current book project examines how plots operate in British realist novels of the 18th and early 19th centuries, linking them to developments in natural philosophy.

    Yoon Sun Lee will also give a lecture “Laws of Motion: Bodies, World and Plot in the Realist Novel” on November 6, 2019.  Both events are presented by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities as part of the Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies.  

    Humanities, Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies
  • The distinction between narration and description or between plot and setting is generally accepted by theories of the novel. But on what basis? To what extent can the realist novel’s plot be abstracted from the physical world in which it occurs? Hegel argues that the epic, the novel’s precursor, is characterized less by the actions or intentions of its characters than by the resistance offered to those by the objective, external world. Borrowing from the history of science, this talk re-imagines the novel’s empiricism as intertwined with the early modern investigation of motion and matter, of “bodies in general.” The realist plot requires a physical universe of passive matter whose movements conform without exception to certain laws. Even in Dickens’s Great Expectations, the plot relies on the concept of inertial movement to generate events and affects as well as to explain them. Plot is something more than abstract form or logic, but it is something less phenomenal than representation.

    Yoon Sun Lee is a professor of English at Wellesley College. She publishes and teaches in several fields: British prose in the Romantic era, the 18th-century novel, Asian American literature, narrative theory, and literary theory. She is the author of Nationalism and Irony (Oxford University Press, 2004), and Modern Minority: Asian American Literature and Everyday Life (Oxford University Press, 2013), and her essays have appeared in journals and collections including Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Representations, The Cambridge Companion to Narrative Theory, The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel, and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Her current book project examines how plots operate in British realist novels of the 18th and early 19th centuries, linking them to developments in natural philosophy.

    The Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies  is presented by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities. The event is free and open to the public.

    Humanities, Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies
  • The first sentences of a novel are the beginnings of an adventure both for the reader and the novelist. In what ways might they presage a shaping democratic imagination? Speaker Isobel Armstrong, Fellow of the British Academy and Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of English Studies and Professor Emerita at Birkbeck, University of London, explores this question and envisages a new poetics of the nineteenth-century novel in order to do so. Isobel Armstrong is the author of Novel Politics: Democratic Imaginations in Nineteenth-Century Fiction.

    Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies
  • Mar
    17
    5:30pm - 7:00pm

    CANCELED: Lecture by Simon Jarvis

    Pembroke Hall, Room 305

    Speaker is Simon Jarvis, Gorley Putt Professor of Poetry and Poetics, Robinson College, University of Cambridge. Verse is not, only, a subset of language. It also consists of para- and extralinguistic elements: in particular, of ‘numbers’ (itself anciently another name for verse). These numbers are by no means only a formal element. They are part of verse’s historically situated thinking. They require, not ‘distant reading’, but what Jarvis calls ‘close counting’. In such an operation it is possible to hope that the historical truth-content of a neglected masterpiece of linguistic metrisection such as Robert Browning’s Sordello (1840), might be decoded. If so, then a paradox recently voiced by Bruno Latour–that it is just what seems most elusive and most ineffable in human esteeming that most calls for systematic calculation–may prove instructive.

    Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies
  • Marjorie Perlman Lorch is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Communication at the School of Social Science, History and Philosophy in Birkbeck, University of London.

    Many innovative methods of language teaching were devised in the second half of the 19th century. These were primarily developed by educators from France and Germany. One exception was the English civil servant Thomas Prendergast (1807?-1886), who created a system for language learning with many original features. He published The Mastery of Languages or, the art of speaking foreign tongues idiomatically in 1864 upon retiring as a magistrate of the East India Company in Madras, India. This was followed by individual volumes on French, German, and Spanish, as well as Hebrew and Latin. The unique feature of Prendergast’s pedagogical approach was its use of observations on child language acquisition, of both mother tongue and additional languages, and on psychological notions regarding memory, learning, and the lexicon. In addition to this distinctive developmental perspective, Prendergast also considered the significant differences for the learner between classroom instruction and cultural immersion. These insights were drawn from his personal experiences of British education in the 1810s and 1820s, and his life in multilingual India from the 1820s to 1850s. Prendergast applied these observations to fashion a system of self-guided study for adults. His Mastery system of language learning will be explored with regard to the psycholinguistic concepts it embodies.

    Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies
  • Nov
    29
    5:30pm - 7:00pm

    Nancy Armstrong • “The Victorian Archive and Its Secret”

    Pembroke Hall, Room 305

    This talk looks closely at the formal techniques by which Dickens and Darwin dismantled the cultural and natural taxonomies bequeathed to them by natural philosophy and eighteenth-century fiction. This paper spells out the formal logic of the social world that Dickens assembled from that debris in hopes of shedding new light on the dynamic relationship among the species for which Darwin so successfully argued.


    Speaker Nancy Armstrong, formerly the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Comparative Literature, English, Modern Culture & Media, and Gender Studies at Brown, is currently the Gilbert, Louis & Edward Lehrman Professor of English at Duke. She is interested in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and American fiction, empire and sexuality, narrative and critical theory, visual culture, and scientific discourses at work in literary forms. She is best known for her groundbreaking book on the relationship between subjectivity and the novel, “Desire and Domestic Fiction.”

    Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies
  • Speaker James Chandler, the Barbara E. & Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago and Director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities, reflects on possibly the most influential piece of writing on the relation of film to literature, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1944 essay, “Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today.”


    The Frerichs Lecture is named for Sarah Cutts Frerichs AM’49 PhD’74, in support of lectures on topics related to the study of English culture of the Victorian period.

    Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies
  • Prof. Caroline Arscott, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, lectures on Herbert Spencer’s account of the emergence of psychological life (from physiological existence) in his account of evolution, and on Charles Darwin’s account of sexual selection in relation to evolution to investigate the temporality of The Woodpecker tapestry designed by William Morris in 1885. The tapestry relates to the tale from Ovid in which Picus is transformed into a woodpecker. Prof. Arscott focuses on the theme of transformation and raises questions about the temporality implied by the motif and by the verses added to the tapestry by Morris. A particular relationship between the present and the future is posited. An argument will be made that this has a bearing on the way that Morris’s tapestry offers a meditation on its own making.


    Professor Caroline Arscott is the Professor of Nineteenth-Century British Art and Head of Research at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Her study of the Victorian art world starts from an initial focus on modern life painting in the 1840s and 1850s, moving into work on the pre-Victorian period (in relation to urban topography) and on the late Victorian period (in relation to the Aesthetic Movement). She was a member of the Editorial Board of the Oxford Art Journal from 1998-2008. As Head of Research at The Courtauld she is responsible for the Research Forum programme of activities and for The Courtauld Institute’s research strategy.

    Her publications include articles on a wide range of Victorian artists including William Holman Hunt, Millais, Leighton, Poynter, Whistler, Sickert, Tissot, Fildes and Frith. She collaborated with Katie Scott in the publication of essays on art and sexuality, Manifestations of Venus, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000. In 2008 she published William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones: Interlacings, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

    Sarah Cutts Frerichs Lecture in Victorian Studies