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Simpson Center for the Humanities

UW Professor Thomas Lockwood Delivers Fall 2014 Katz Lecture

We hope you will join us on Tuesday, October 28, for the first Katz Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities of the 2014-15 year. Noted UW scholar Thomas Lockwood (English) will examine the work of Jonathan Swift. His lecture, titled “Is Eating Babies Really So Terrible? The Dark Genius of Jonathan Swift,” takes place at 7:00 pm in Kane 210.

Swift (1667-1745) has always been an intensely controversial figure, Lockwood contends, a brilliant political combatant in British history, a national hero in Ireland, and arguably the greatest satirist in world literature. Along with the Tale of a Tub and A Modest Proposal (the one about inappropriate food choices), Swift immortalized himself with Gulliver’s Travels, a work much loved of children for its fantastic immersion experience among big people and little people—but which has long divided opinion among adults for its exposure of the worst in human nature.

According to Lockwood, though Swift’s contemporaries loved him for his comic genius, ranking him with Rabelais and Cervantes, the Victorians of the next century thought he must have been mad. To those who lived through the nightmare of twentieth-century world warfare, Swift seemed not only sane but a prophet. For his lecture, Lockwood will tell the story of these controversies and the extraordinary works of imagination that provoked them.

A scholar of the Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature, Lockwood’s areas of interest include the rise of the novel, theater history, periodical journalism, and print history. He is known internationally for his research on the works of novelist and playwright Henry Fielding and is editor of three volumes of Fielding’s plays, published by Oxford University Press between 2004 and 2011. The third volume of this series won the 2013 Patten Award from Studies in English Literature for best recent contribution to British Restoration and eighteenth-century studies. Lockwood is working on a book, Lowlife: Representations of Social Inferiority in Britain, 1660-1830, as well as a volume on The Life of Jonathan Swift for the Blackwell “Critical Biography” series. He is also part of the Textual Studies Program faculty at the UW.

The Katz Distinguished Lectures in the Humanities Series recognizes scholars in the humanities and emphasizes the role of the humanities in liberal education. The series is named after Solomon Katz, who served in many capacities for fifty-three years at the UW, as an instructor, professor, Chair of the Department of History, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

 Additional Katz 2014-15 lecturers include Anne Balsamo (Media Studies, The New School for Public Engagement) on Wednesday, March 4, and Rainer Forst (Political Theory and Philosophy, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University) on Wednesday, April 29. Their talks will place at 7:00 pm in Kane Hall. 

All Katz Lectures are free and open to the public. Learn more about this lecture series.