Dr. Stephen Prickett lectures at Armstrong Browning Library about the Romantic period

Photo credit: Baylor Media Communcations

By Kalli Damschen Lariat Reporter

Dr. Stephen Prickett spoke to professors and students about the Romantic period played an essential role in changing how we perceive literature at the Armstrong Browning Library on Thursday.

Dr. Prickett worked as the director of the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University from 2003 to 2008. He is currently Regius Professor Emeritus at the University of Glasgow and an honorary professor at the University of Kentucky. Prickett studied at Cambridge and Oxford, and has written one novel, nine academic monographs, seven edited volumes and over 90 articles.

Dr. Prickett specializes in the intersection of literature and theology. His lecture last week was titled “Backing into the Future: Romanticism, Secularization and the Reinvention of Literature.”

While Dr. Prickett himself admitted that the title is “fairly pretentious,” he said it was a good summary of the purpose of his lecture.

During the hour that he spoke, Dr. Prickett examined quotes from a variety of thinkers, including German philosophers Immanuel Kant and the Schlegel brothers. Dr. Prickett said he liked the German theorists because they can be so strange and obscure.

“They really do go completely off the planet,” he said.

While some of the theory was dense, Dallas junior Abby Thompson appreciated the variety of sources Dr. Prickett referenced.

“I like how he had different quotes from important people in the poetry realm from the 19th century, talking about the difference in Romantic poetry, what it was,” Thompson said.

The lecture discussed a number of theories about Romantic literature, but the overall conclusion was that the 18th century brought about the modern value society places on literature.

“It’s why people study literature,” Dr. Prickett said. “The idea of literature as something important and valuable and interesting, it stems from exactly the people I was talking about.”

After the lecture, the Armstrong Browning Library held a reception with coffee, tea and desserts, where students and professors alike had the chance to speak personally with Dr. Prickett and reflect on the lecture.

“I thought it was wonderful,” said Lafayette, Louisiana, senior Allie Matherne. “A lot of it went over my head, for sure, but it was wonderful.”

Matherne also appreciated Dr. Prickett’s very British mannerisms and sense of humor.

“He’s amazing, and he’s precious,” Matherne said. “Like, the cutest thing ever. But respected and respectable as well. Not just cute.”

“Backing into the Future” was sponsored by the Armstrong Browning Library, the Department of Religion and the Honors College. It was part of the 19th Century Research Seminar, an interdisciplinary forum for professors and graduate students to present research on topics relating to the 19th century.

“What it is, is an interdisciplinary seminar focused on 19th-century studies in as many different kinds of fields as we can pull in,” said Jacksonville, Florida, graduate student Chris Dickinson, who is part of the 19th Century Research Seminar committee. “We have talks on all types of areas regarding the 19th century: literature, history, science, art.”

Both Matherne and Thompson had never attended an event put on by the 19th Century Research Seminar before, but after Dr. Prickett’s lecture, both said they would like to attend again in the future.

To learn more about the 19th Century Research Seminar, you can visit their blog and check out their schedule of upcoming events.