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17 October, Jane Cooper "On the Sublime: Poetic Theory in the Age of Dryden"

On Tuesday, 17 October, Jane Cooper (All Souls College) will deliver a talk entitled "On the Sublime: Poetic Theory in the Age of Dryden" at the Humane Philosophy Project-Ian Ramsey Centre seminar series.

Time: 5pm

Venue: The Aula, Blackfriars Hall, St Giles, Oxford

This event is free and open to the public.

Abstract Before the Romantic definition of the sublime emerged, following Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), what did 'sublime' mean in aesthetics? The sublime had long preoccupied Europe: Nicolas Boileau's 1674 French translation of Longinus' rhetorical treatise Peri Hypsous (1 AD) revived the discussion which several Renaissance Italian humanists, including Francesco Patrizi, were having a century before. In England, the pre-Romantic sublime has been associated with the Whig writers John Dennis and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, who attributed qualities of natural grandeur and divine power to the sublime. However, the sublime was not the preserve of the Whigs. I will discuss the literary theory of the sublime in the works of two superstar Royalist poets: John Dryden and Abraham Cowley. Their theory held that the great poet must translate the 'sublime genius' of the ancients via classical and Biblical imitation whilst producing sublimity anew. I will look in particular at the Pindaric ode, a form which Cowley vernacularised in 1656, as an important vehicle for modernising the ancient sublime in the patriotic context of scientific discovery and natural philosophical change in England.

Jane Cooper is an Examination Fellow of All Souls College in the second year of her DPhil in English. Her research focuses on sublime poetics and the literary reception of classical and contemporary natural philosophy in England, 1650-1740.


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