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The Pre-Raphaelites and science: Thoughts towards nature in poetry and art
With their medieval subjects, visionary landscapes and mythic femmes fatales, the Pre-Raphaelites might seem the last place to look for a link between science and the arts. Yet from the outset they claimed that art should not only draw on science but even emulate it in its quest for an accurate account of the world around us. In their commitment to honest, empirical 'truth to Nature', the Pre-Raphaelites saw themselves as following the lead given by Victorian scientists, and as contributing on equal terms to their project of discovery and understanding. This talk will begin with the essays and poems of The Germ, the short-lived magazine the Pre-Raphaelites published in 1850, to see what they said about science and how they modelled their early work on it. John Holmes will then move on to look at some of the many ways in which they engaged with science, in poetry, painting and sculpture, later in their careers, to see what, in the end, science meant to the members of the most original and influential movement in the arts in Victorian England.Download a podcast of John speaking to our reporter after his talk, or read all about it on our blog.
John Holmes is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Reading. His main research interest is nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and American poetry from the Romantics to the present day. He also has specific interests in literature and science, particularly evolutionary theory; poetic form, including the sonnet and the epic; and Victorian intellectual culture and aesthetics, including the visual arts and ideas of empire.
He is the author of Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution and (scheduled for publication next year) Science in Modern Poetry: New Directions. He is currently working on a new book on the Pre-Raphaelites and science and has just begun an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded collaborative doctoral project with the Royal Society focussing on The Place of the Royal Society in Victorian Literary Culture.
Sunday 2 October 2011, 12:30pm - 1:30pmDining Room, the Royal Society.
This event costs £4 per person.Tickets will be available on the door.
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