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Stefan Collini – History in English Literary Criticism

Royal Holloway Department of History

Hayes Robinson Lecture

Date:  2 March 2010

Stefan Collini – (University of Cambridge) History in English Literary Criticism

The styles of literary criticism that were particularly influential in British culture in the middle decades of the 20th century have frequently been characterised as‘ahistorical’. This lecture identifies some of the fundamental historical assumptions underlying such work and situates them within a broader intellectual history.

Professor Stefan Collini, FBA, is Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature in the Faculty of English at Cambridge University. He has written widely on the relations between literature and intellectual history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and is author of Liberalism and Sociology (1979), That Noble Science of Politics (1983), Public Moralists (1991), Matthew Arnold: A Critical Portrait (1994), English Pasts (1999), and Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain (2006). Collini has edited works by J.S. Mill, Matthew Arnold, Umberto Eco, and C.P. Snow, and published essays on T.S. Eliot, F.R. Leavis, George Orwell, Raymond Williams, cultural criticism, and the historical development of the concept of ‘culture,’ among other topics. His current research interests include ‘Condition-of-England’ writing, social criticism, literary journalism, the history of literary criticism, and ideas of culture. Collini is a frequent contributor to journals such as The Times Literary Supplement and The London Review of Books.

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