A Marvell of science?

Posted by er134 at May 03, 2013 09:11 AM |
Lecture explores the influence of the Royal Society on 17th century poet on Tuesday 7 May at University of Leicester

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 2 May 2013

The poet and parliamentarian Andrew Marvell has long been considered one of the foremost metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century, but a University of Leicester Professor is to question what his works may owe the burgeoning scientific community of the Restoration.

Professor Martin Dzelzainis of the School of English will examine how the establishment of the Royal Society in 1660 may have influenced Marvell’s poetry and prose at his professorial inaugural lecture ‘“...a Garden of venimous Plants”: Andrew Marvell and Science’ on Tuesday 7 May.

Andrew Marvell was a Member of Parliament during the reign of Charles II but it is for his verse, such as To His Coy Mistress, that he is arguably most remembered. He was a contemporary and friend of the poet John Milton, with whom he worked in Oliver Cromwell’s secretariat.

Professor Dzelzainis said, “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.

“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.

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?

‘“...a Garden of venimous Plants”: Andrew Marvell and Science’ will be given in the Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1, at 5:30pm on Tuesday 7 May 2013.

Professor Dzelzainis was educated at the King Henry School in Coventry, and the universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He taught at Royal Holloway College, London, before coming to Leicester.

The lecture is free and open to the public. More information can be found here.

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Professor Dzelzainis on md240@le.ac.uk.

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