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Intellectual Societies: Intimacy and Knowledge in the 19th Century

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This talk is open to the public and may be podcast

E.M. Forster’s famous phrase, “Only Connect,” is not only a guide to a successful emotional life; it is also a guide to cognition. The universities were reformed in the nineteenth century but despite this they still lacked curiosity, imagination, originality, in short, what we might call research. Consequently the cultivation of knowledge was thrust out into those colonies of learned societies which emerged in this period: the Royal Society, the Metaphysical Society, the Philological Society, the Royal Asiatic Society and many others. This talk takes up the inner history of these societies and shows the ways in which knowledge formation was a social process. Learning was spawned in the interstices of conviviality and sociality.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Humanities Society talks series.

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