Reflections on the IES George Eliot Study Week 2018

In May 2018, two of our PhD students and unit members, Edwin Marr and Marie Moxon, attended the IES study week on George Eliot. Edwin Marr has reflected on the experience below:

In May 2018 I was funded by Anglia Ruskin University to attend the five-day study week on George Eliot in London organised by the Institute of English Studies. As the initial chapter of my PhD focuses on George Eliot’s literary representations of the railway, this week proved extremely valuable to my research.

Following introductions by Isobel Armstrong, who directed the week, Rosemary Ashton began by exploring the events of Eliot’s life, her publishing history as well as the psychological realism that has come to define her fiction. The next day, Laurel Brake took us to the British Library to see Eliot’s earliest known publication as well as first editions of Middlemarch. For me this was a particular highlight of the course, giving me a rich insight into the importance of periodical studies, and the significance of researching the texts within their wider publishing context, something I am currently working on extensively throughout my PhD.

On the Wednesday, Isobel Armstrong delivered her lecture on Hegelian Dialectics within Eliot’s literature, explaining how this grew out of Eliot’s intimate knowledge of European philosophy. The Thursday brought Ruth Abbott with her discussion on the importance of notebooks as textual documents, and the extensive research Eliot carried out in Florence for Romola. The week then closed with Hilary Fraser’s lecture on Victorian re-imaginings of the Renaissance, and the importance of the visual arts within Romola.

I am extremely grateful to ARU for funding my attendance of this study week, as in addition to offering a fantastic opportunity to interact with leading nineteenth-century scholars, it has given me fresh perspectives for my own research, and contributed significantly to the scope of my thesis.

The Institute of English Studies are running another study week this year, focusing on the Brontës. Full details are available here.


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