IASH Intellectual and Literary History Public Seminar Series

Cultures and Values


Literature, History, Value: The Case of British Romanticism

In this paper I am concerned with what the humanities do – with what is expected of them by the society that sustains them and what they expect of themselves. To explore this, I will use my familiarity with periodical criticism in the Romantic period to take stock on how far we’ve come in Romantic studies in particular, but also in the discipline of ‘English’ more generally, reflecting on some of the changes literary studies have undergone since 1980. I will use the assumptions and strategies of the Edinburgh Review under Francis Jeffrey’s editorship and the antagonism between creative and critical activity that developed during the Romantic period to throw light on some of the assumptions and strategies of contemporary ideological and poststructuralist criticism, and ask how well we are positioned to manage the re-engagement with the non-university sector represented by the idea (and practice) of public humanities.

Will Christie is Head of the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, Fellow and Head of the English Section at the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and Director of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres. His publications include Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Literary Life (2006) – awarded the NSW Premier’s Biennial Prize for Literary Scholarship in 2008 –  The Edinburgh Review in the Literary Culture of Romantic Britain (2009), Dylan Thomas: A Literary Life (2014), and The Two Romanticisms, and Other Essays (2016).



Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower (Building #1)