Armstrong Browning Library honors namesakes

Dr. Andrew Tate was invited to feature a lecture at Armstrong Browning Library to celebrate the life's work of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Junpeng Zhang | Reporter

The Armstrong Browning Library hosted the annual celebration of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning to commemorate their birthdays and honor their life’s work on Friday.

This year, Dr. Andrew Tate was invited to feature a lecture at the library. A special musical presentation was brought by Marlin tenor Justin Kroll, a member of A Cappella Choir and facilities assistant in Armstrong Browning Library along with collaborative pianist Sara Steele at the beginning of the celebration.

After the prayer led by Dr. Lesa Scholl, vice principal of Emmanuel College, University of Queensland in Australia, Dr. Joshua King, Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies introduced Tate to the audience.

Tate is a reader in literature, religion and aesthetics in the department of english and creative writing at Lancaster University, UK. His previous books include Contemporary Fiction and Christianity (2008) and, co-authored with Arthur Bradley, The New Atheist Novel (2010) and, as co-editor, Literature and the Bible: A Reader (2013).

Since Tate spent a while visiting at Baylor, Tate became aware of the great reputation of Armstrong Browning Library and interested in for the 19th century writers here.

“When I saw there was an opportunity to apply for a fellowship, I received that and was fortune enough to be awarded a fellowship, and delighted with the offer,” Tate said. “So I came on spending some times here writing about the 19th century literature and Bible. I am specifically looking for the 19th century writers who responded to the Book of Psalm.”

During the lecture, Tate talked about the notion of praise. He mentioned the importance of praise in the poetry of the 19th century, which peaked his interest.

In addition, words and pictures also made Tate interested in studying the art of the Browning’s. According to Tate, he interpreted poetry and painting as sister arts, it was still difficult to read much into the portraits of Brownings. He also particularly talked about that how the Browning’s responded in their poetry to the art they saw during their married life.

“I was fascinated by the way which Browning’s who focused on the word are inspired by the images, and the way which they used the art to explore spirituality.” Tate said. “The relationship between words and pictures in spirituality is what I am interested.”

Cynthia A. Burgess, the librarian and the curator of books and printed materials of Armstrong Browning Library said she enjoyed Tate’s lecture so much, she picked one of the interesting things that Tate mentioned during his lecture, which is the conflict between Mr. Browning and John Ruskin, an English artist and a leading art critic of the Victorian era.

“The interesting thing is that Ruskin was one of the friends of Browning, but his criticizing attitude was pretty heavily on the book,” Burgess said. “However, Browning didn’t bow down to Ruskin’s negative criticizes. Instead, he went ahead explaining what he was trying to do. And finally Ruskin became an admirer of the Brownings.