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Inaugural Lecture - Dr Peter Swaab (Department of English)

Publication date: Jan 23, 2013 12:20:02 PM

Start: Feb 19, 2013 6:30:00 PM
End: Feb 19, 2013 8:30:00 PM

Location: UCL Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT


Dr Peter Swaab (Department of English)

Dr Peter Swaab

Peter Swaab studied at Cambridge, Harvard and NYU before coming to UCL.

He is the editor of the Selected Nonsense and Travel Writings of Edward Lear and of the first ever editions of poetry and prose by Sara Coleridge.

His other publications include a major piece on The Two Noble Kinsmen for the Penguin Shakespeare, a BFI Film Classic book on Bringing Up Baby and a book, co-edited with Philip Horne, about the British film director and UCL alumnus Thorold Dickinson.

His next project is a book on Sylvia Townsend Warner.


Title: Edward Lear’s Travels in Nonsense and Europe

Edward Lear was a travel writer as well as a nonsense poet, and this lecture explores affinities between the two genres of his writing.

Lear travelled far and wide, into regions where he was frequently thought odd. His narratives combine Pickwickian comedy, Byronic melancholy and social anthropology. Nonsense poetry also encounters unexpected locales, with their own flora and fauna and rules. Taking leave of the normal, it is a poetry of departures; narrating quests for love and adventure, it is a form of mock-epic; creating a world of its own, it is a British counterpart to French Symbolism.

The lecture will discuss why questions of travel mattered so intensely to Lear, what was nonsensical about Victorian excursions into the wider world, and what was Victorian about the nonsense poetry of the age.

Eventbrite - Inaugural Lecture - Dr Peter Swaab (Department of English)