Professor Tilottama Rajan, University of Western Ontario
For this penultimate Romantic Realignments of the year, we're delighted to be welcoming Tilottama Rajan, Director of the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario. She will be speaking on the subject of William Godwin's historiography – specifically, the different optics through which he looks at the seventeenth century. All welcome as always in Seminar Room A at 5.15!
This paper argues that Godwin was writing a world history in bits and pieces, through his novels, histories, biographies and children's books, and that these different genres give us different optics on history. Within this larger framework he was particularly interested in the Cromwellian period as a lost republican moment that has particular resonances in his own time (around Ireland, the pamphlet wars, the suppression of radical dissent, and the "Restoration" of stability in 1660 and 1816). The paper begins with Godwin's essay on individual vs general history and then works between two very different texts: The History of the Commonwealth as an impersonal, long-durational history, and the intensive focus of Mandeville on a misanthropic individual against the backdrop of the religious divisions and fanaticism of the period, which I see as connected with misanthropy.