Friday 11th May 2012 to Saturday 12th May 2012
Venue: Chawton House Library
Keynote speaker: William McCarthy, Barbauld’s biographer and editor
The 200th anniversary of Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, Barbauld’s most powerful and controversial poem seems an ideal moment for a reappraisal of her life and works. Over the past two decades, the publication by William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft of a compete edition of her Poems (1994) and a paperback of Selected Poetry and Prose (2002), followed by Professor McCarthy’s internationally acclaimed biography (2008) has stimulated a wealth of new research on her activities as poet, essayist, educationalist, editor, devotional writer and advocate of religious freedom, the abolition of the slave trade, and social reform, in a career that began with éclat in 1773 and endured until shortly before her death in 1825. We invite scholars to Chawton House Library, a rare books collection dedicated to early women’s writing, to celebrate Barbauld’s achievements and to debate her historical significance and the continuing relevance of many of her themes, not least the economic crisis and dysfunctional war policy which were the occasion of Eighteen Hundred and Eleven and led to its warning, apocalyptic vision of a nation in terminal decline.
The conference is organised in conjunction with the University of Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the School of English, University of Leicester.