'..."A Garden of venimous Plants": Andrew Marvell and Science

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May 07, 2013
from 05:30 PM to 06:30 PM


Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1

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0116 252 2320

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Professor Martin Dzelzainis

School of English

Lecture Summary

This lecture engages with the neglected topic of the relationship between the poet and politician Andrew Marvell (1621-78) and the Royal Society. While most aspects of Marvell’s post-Restoration life and writings been subjected to prolonged and intense scrutiny in recent years, his relation to this newly-founded institution – its members, activities, and interests – has been largely overlooked. However, as this lecture will demonstrate, it is now  certain that he read Thomas Sprat’s History of the Royal-Society of London, first published in book form in 1667. Moreover, a survey of Marvell’s writings reveals the remarkable extent to which his varied preoccupations – including, amongst other things, poisons, comets, and the properties of glass – overlapped with those of the Royal Society’s virtuosi. Can Marvell’s intellectual eclecticism, which is so often seen as an efflorescence of his so-called “metaphysical” wit, in fact be assimilated to the norms prevailing in the scientifically-minded community of his day?

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