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A Change in the Air: Weathers, Words, and Landscapes (Public Lecture by Alexandra Harris)
July 5, 2017 @ 5:45 pm - 7:00 pmFree
Writers and artists across the centuries, looking up at the same skies and walking in the same brisk wind, have felt very different things.
The Anglo-Saxons before the Norman Conquest lived in a wintry world, writing about the coldness of exile or the shelters they must defend against enemies outdoors. The Middle Ages brought the warmth of spring; the new lyrics were sung in praise of blossom and cuckoos. It is hard to find a description of a rainy night before 1700, but by the end of the eighteenth century the Romantics will take a squall as fit subject for their most probing thoughts. There have been times when the numbers on a rain gauge count for more than a pantheon of aerial gods. There have been times for meteoric marvels and times for gentle breeze.
As we enter what may be the last decades of English weather as we know it, let us celebrate English air and the writers and artists who have lived in it.
Alexandra Harris is the author of Weatherland, an attempt to tell the story of English literature through changes in the weather. She is Professor of English at the University of Liverpool, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a judge of the 2017 Ondaatje Prize for work evoking the spirit of place. Previous books include Virginia Woolf, and Romantic Moderns, for which she won the Guardian First Book Award and a Somerset Maugham Award.