Religious dissent in the eighteenth century can seem an arcane matter of disagreement over ritual; or it can appear a romantic position of dissidence. Neither is right but both point up the way that in debates over the rights of dissenters a notion of illegitimacy recurs, a suspicion of mixing roles. So the minister and experimental scientist Joseph Priestle, was called Dissenting Dr, Dr Phlogiston, Political Priest, Reverend Philosopher: in each case it’s as though this is an oxymoron. Such promiscuous mixing may signal civic danger, even precede conflagration. (So Priestley was also famously, called Gunpowder Joe.) In this talk I’ll show you some graphic versions of that argument and say something about disciplines in a time of crisis.
Stephen Bygrave is a Professor of English at the University of Southampton. He has published widely on Romantic poetry; the enlightenment; rhetoric; and the history of education. He is currently working on the rhetoric of dissenting writers of the 1790s (notably Joseph Priestley and Anna Barbauld).
Date & time
Thu 12 Sep 2019, 4–5.30pm
Theatrette (2.02), Sir Roland Wilson Building, Building #120, McCoy Circuit, ANU
Professor Stephen Bygrave (University of Southampton)