University of Rochester

EVENT: Lecture Examines Bloomsbury Group's Fascination with 18th Century

March 10, 2003

A leading literary scholar will discuss an influential group of 20th century English artists and writers and their representations of the culture of an earlier era during a lecture at the University of Rochester.

Terry Castle, the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, will present an illustrated talk titled "Jazz Age Rococo: The Imaginary Eighteenth Century of the 1920s" at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 20, in the Welles-Brown Room in Rush Rhees Library on the River Campus. Her talk is sponsored by the George H. Ford Fund for Visiting Scholars in the Graduate Program of the Department of English and is free and open to the public.

Castle, who has been described as one of the most incisive and witty critics writing today, is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and The New Republic. The New York Times has called her "always engaging . . . consistently fascinating," and her work has helped to revolutionize 18th century studies. Her essays-for example, the now-legendary "Was Jane Austen Gay?"-have generated controversy and innovative academic inquiry and exchange.

In her talk, Castle will examine how members of the Bloomsbury Group fantasized and recreated the 18th century in art and writing. This cultural circle of friends, who revolted against the manners and morals of Victorian England, met regularly from the early 1900s until World War II and included such luminaries as writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, painters Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell, economist John Maynard Keynes, and historian Lytton Strachey.

Castle is the author of seven books including Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny; Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits; and Boss Ladies, Watch Out: Essays on Women, Sex, and Writing. She has edited Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, one of the most famous and influential Gothic novels of the 18th century; Jane Austen's Emma; and The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall.

In addition to her lecture, Castle will hold two seminars on Friday, March 21. She will meet with graduate students at 10:30 a.m. to discuss issues surrounding the nature of academic writing. At 3 p.m., she will participate in an afternoon seminar open to all members of the University community on an essay from her collection Boss Ladies. A reception in the Robbins Library will follow.

For more information, contact the Department of English at (585) 275-4092.