Carolyn Steedman, “Nothing to say but itself”: Writing at the End of the Early Modern Era in England

Carolyn Steedman, University of Warwick
Carolyn Steedman, University of Warwick
Cosponsored with the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick.
Cosponsored with the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick.
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Eighteenth-Century Seminar
Saturday, October 18, 2014

1 pm

Please register by 10 am Friday, October 17

Towner Fellows Lounge

Carolyn Steedman, University of Warwick

I had finished working on one of the strangest texts I have ever encountered, Low- Life. Or, One Half of the World Know Not How the Other Half Live, with all the doubts it raises about representation, writing, and history as both of those things, when I found Michel Foucault on the topic of writing itself. Writing, he said, is “a silent, cautious, deposition of the world upon the whiteness of a piece of paper … has nothing to say but itself, nothing to do but shine in the brightness of its being.”

When was Low-Life written? It tells itself as having been first printed in 1750, though that was in 1757, and the original, if there ever was one, has not been found. All its internal references are to the decade ending in 1749. My lecture will explore Low-Life in the context of the writing revolution of the 1740s and attempt to understand why a century and more on, Charles Dickens and many of his colleagues knew that this text signalled the birth of their own modernity.

A reception will follow the seminar.

Learn more about the speaker: Carolyn Steedman, University of Warwick

Download a PDF flyer to post and distribute.

Organized by Timothy Campbell, University of Chicago; Lisa A. Freeman, University of Illinois at Chicago; John Shanahan, DePaul University; and Helen Thompson, Northwestern University.

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Cost and registration information: 

This program is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration in advance is required.

Register online here. Registrations will be processed through 10 am Friday, October 17.