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Gresham College: Prof. Belinda Jack – The Mysteries of Writing Novels and Poems – #1/6 – The Novel & Morality: Samuel Johnson’s ‘Rasselas’


About the lecture series

Literature of any merit has its ambiguities and this allows for different readings, giving rise to different interpretations and so, literary critical debate. This series of lectures will focus on four novels and two poems in order to focus on these ‘Mysteries of Writing’.

Works have been selected for their popularity or, contrariwise, their relative obscurity, to offer historical range, and to include both English and non-English texts. In analysing a few works in detail, methods of reading will be identified which can be used to unlock from all texts some of their abiding and powerful relevance to human life.

About the lecture

The Morality of Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas. Dr Johnson was one of the most vigorous intellectuals of the eighteenth century. He was also exceptionally kind, humble and constantly battling against self-doubt. For anyone feeling fed up with life, Rasselas may be the answer

Professor Belinda Jack

Belinda Jack is Fellow and Tutor in French at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She features regularly in the press and media thanks to the popularity and insight of her published works, including books such as The Woman Reader, George Sand: A Woman’s Life Writ Large and Negritude and Literary Criticism: The History and Theory of “Negro-African” Literature in French.

Professor Jack obtained her D.Phil. in Negritude and Literary Criticism at St John’s College, University of Oxford in 1989, having earlier obtained a degree in French with African and Caribbean Studies from the University of Kent. Her academic career over the past twenty years has been at Christ Church, University of Oxford, where she is an ‘Official Student’ (Fellow and Member of the Governing Body) and Tutor in French. Her main interest lies in French literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.

As well as her five books, Professor Jack is widely published through her many articles, essays, chapters and reviews. Her recent articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Literary Review, Times Literary Supplement, Times Higher Education Supplement, BBC History Magazine and Littérature. She is a regular on the BBC and international radio and television, as well as a frequent speaker at literary festivals throughout the British Isles and beyond.

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