University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Grahame, Ruskin and the Medieval Worlds of The Wind in the Willows

Grahame, Ruskin and the Medieval Worlds of The Wind in the Willows

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This talk will explore the ways in which Grahame drew on Ruskin’s aesthetic theories and idioms to create a sense of sublime, aesthetic response among the characters in The Wind in the Willows. It looks, in particular, at the ways in which Ruskin developed his sense of the beholder in his discussions of art history and in his own engagement with medieval manuscript illumination. It then turns to the imagery of The Wind in the Willows to see these relationships among medievalism, aesthetics, and illumination as shaping the key dramatic moments in the work. In the end, it hopes to suggest some new ways of understanding the place of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century medievalism in the formations of children’s literature.

Seth Lerer is Distinguished Professor of Literature and former Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on Medieval and Renaissance literature, Children’s Literature, and the History of the English Language. His book, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Truman Capote Prize in Criticism. He has also published an annotated edition of The Wind in the Willows with Harvard University Press and a memoir, Prospero’s Son, with the University of Chicago Press.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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