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Public lecture by Marita Matthijsen

1 November 2006

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The UCL Department of Dutch invites you to a public lecture on The Nineteenth Century: An Era of Masks? by Professor Marita Mathijsen (University of Amsterdam) on Wednesday 22 November 2006, 3–5 pm, at UCL [venue tbc].

The nineteenth century was a time of profound change in Europe. Steam power and its applications transformed the landscape. Photography was invented. Medical discoveries improved people’s life expectancy. Slavery was abolished. The prison system was reformed.

Movements like socialism, communism and anarchism arose, and attention was given to the position of women. With so many things in flux, it was also a time of intense nervousness. New behavioural codes had to be developed. There was a strong moral sense, deemed necessary to steer the reforms into proper channels. But men and women were differently placed in this regard. Men could be both philanderers and respected reformers. A double standard was an accepted thing – for men, that is.
Literature had a special role to play in this context. It engaged in fierce social debate, but it also served as a mainstay for the citizen in turbulent times. It taught the citizen of the new era how to behave. In my lecture I shall focus on the complex social and functions of literature in the nineteenth century, especially but not only in the Netherlands.

Marita Mathijsen is Professor of Contemporary Dutch Literature at the University of Amsterdam. A member of the Huizinga Institute, she specialises in nineteenth-century literature and editorial scholarship. Her books include a wide-ranging study on the nineteenth-century state of mind, De gemaskerde eeuw (‘The masked century’, 2002) and an account of Dutch literature of the period, Nederlandse literatuur in de Romantiek (2004). In 1998 she received the prestigious
Prince Bernhard Fund Prize for the Humanities. All welcome!

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Page last modified on 22 jun 10 11:16 by Ulrich Tiedau