Thursday, October 26, 2017

Seminar - '*Dr Johnson after Thomas Pennant: The [Re]transit of the Caledonian Hemisphere.'

Prof Nigel Leask (Glasgow) gives the next18th-Century and Romantic Studies seminar:
Thursday 2nd November, 5pm, Board Room, Faculty of English. All are welcome.
"The paper explores the influence of Thomas Pennant's published Scottish Tours in 1769 and 1772 on the practice and representation of Johnson's and Boswell's Scottish tour in 1773, the success of which largely eclipsed Pennant's subsequent reputation. I will discuss the contemporary reception of both tours, exploring their itineraries, intellectual networks, and the composition of their travel accounts, as well as questioning a simplistic opposition between Pennant's favourable account versus Johnson's Scotophobia. The paper also examines their respective attitudes to the Ossian controversy, and to the Gaelic language, which inflects their otherwise similar criticisms of Highland modernity. The paper is illustrated with topographical images by Pennant's 'artist servant' Moses Griffith and other contemporary views of the Highlands."
Those wishing to undertake some preparatory reading might look at the following: Johnson's /Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland/; Pennant's /Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides/ (1772); Pat Rogers' /Johnson and Boswell: The Transit of Caledonia/.

Nigel Leask is the Regius Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow. He has published widely in the area of Romantic literature and culture, with a special emphasis on empire, India, and travel writing, as well as Scottish literature and thought. His book, /Robert Burns and Pastoral: Poetry and Improvement in Late-18th Century Scotland/ won the Saltire Prize for the best Scottish Research Book of 2010. He has recently edited the /Collected Prose Writings of Robert Burns/ for the AHRC-funded Oxford edition of the /Collected Works of Robert Burns/. He is currently CI of the AHRC funded 'Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour, 1750-1820' (2014-18) and is writing a book entitled /'Stepping Westward': the Scottish Tour 1720-1820/. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is a Vicepresident of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies.

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