The turn of the tide: melancholy and modernity in mid-Victorian Wales

Dr T Robin Chapman

Dr T Robin Chapman

15 October 2014

Dr T Robin Chapman, lecturer in the Department of Welsh at Aberystwyth University, will be discussing melancholy and modernity in mid-Victorian Wales on Monday 27 October.

The lecture, titled 'The turn of the tide: melancholy and modernity in mid-Victorian Wales' will be held at A12 in the Hugh Owen Building on Penglais Campus at 7.30pm.

The lecture is free and open to the public and refreshments will be provided.

When Matthew Arnold looked west from Llandudno in 1864 and saw a land ‘where the past still lives’, he contributed to a body of English-language material that presented contemporary Wales as antique, attenuated, melancholy and ‘other’. 

This lecture assesses the historiography that informed Arnold’s perception, and looks at the contrast found in the period’s Welsh-language output.  

Wales in Welsh was, Robin Chapman argues, ‘impatient to reform its existing institutions [and] promote others … unconcerned about models of its past … never more confident in the sufficiency of its own immediate resources’. 

The lecture surveys the modernity found, inter alia, in the institution of the eisteddfod, self-help manuals, advertisements for patent medicines, encyclopaedias and triumphalist nonconformist histories. Wales, it concludes, would never be as melancholy or as modern again.

This event is jointly hosted by Aberystwyth University and the Learned Society of Wales and is an English-medium lecture.