Public lecture

Editing Aphra Behn’s Fiction

  • 20 June 2023
  • 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • Hybrid - International House & Zoom Webinar

Aphra Behn (1640-1689) is famous in literary and dramatic circles as the first professional woman writer in English: a highly successful playwright in the 1670s and 1680s, she was also a prominent poet, fiction-writer, and translator from French. Beyond the academics who study her, though, she is barely known.

This symposium, an assemblage of those who are editing Behn’s fiction for Cambridge University Press, is designed to introduce her extraordinary achievements to a wider public. Short talks on each of Behn’s stories – which include the first fiction about an uprising of enslaved people, and two tales of former nuns who marry and murder – will be interwoven with discussion of how computational methods can establish which works are really hers, and who the book-trade personnel were who brought her to her public.

Hour 1 (11 am to 12 noon)

1. Welcome, Gillian Wright (University of Birmingham) (5 minutes)
2. ‘The Passions of Love-Letters: What the History of Emotion Teaches Us about the “First” Novel in England’, Aleksondra Hultquist (Stockton University), IAS Visiting Fellow
3. ‘Editing Behn’s La Montre: Some Problems and Suggestions’, Line Cottegnies (Sorbonne Université), IAS Visiting Fellow
4. 'Venus, Adonis, and Aphra Behn', Jennifer Batt (University of Bristol)

Questions, discussion, pause

Hour 2 (12 noon to 1:00 pm)

5. ‘The Fair Jilt: Walking Aphra Behn’s Antwerp’, Ros Ballaster (University of Oxford)
6. ‘Editing Oroonoko Today: Slavery and Responsibility’, Helen Wilcox (Bangor University)
7. ‘Bigamy and Murder in The History of the Nun’, Karen Gevirtz (Seton Hall University), IAS Visiting Fellow
8. ‘The Makers and Sellers of Behn's Books: What the Names Tell Us, and Why They Matter’, Maureen Bell (University of Birmingham) (5 mins)

Questions, discussion, pause

LUNCH (1 pm to 2 pm)

Hour 3 (2 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

9. ‘What Behn Wrote: The Challenges and Opportunities of Investigating Authorship Using Computational Methods’, Mel Evans (University of Leeds) & Clodagh Murphy (University of Leiden & University of Leeds)
10. ‘The Behn Brand Name: Editing Texts with Uncertain Origins’, Leah Orr (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), IAS Visiting Fellow
11. ‘Aphra Behn Returns to Canterbury’, Elaine Hobby (Loughborough University) (5 mins)

Questions, discussion

12. The future and farewell, Claire Bowditch (University of Queensland) (5 mins)

This event is hybrid format, please use the required booking button at the bottom of the page to choose either in-person or online attendance.
(Please note that in-person spaces are limited and booking is required, so we can manage numbers for catering and also the space inside International House)

By booking a place at this event, attendees agree to behave in a respectful manner such that everyone feels comfortable contributing as they wish. The IAS reserves the right to eject anyone who does not abide by this policy.

IAS seminars are typically recorded, minus any Q&A sessions at the end, again to encourage contributions. The recordings are then uploaded to our website on a Fellows bio page and/or Programme page, along with our IAS YouTube Channel. If you are not able to attend a seminar live, please do still register as we will email everyone who registered to let them know once the recordings are made available.

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