Thursday, January 19, 2012


Seminar in Dissenting Studies, the Lecture Hall, Dr Williams's Library, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR. All are welcome. Those with an interest in Dr Williams's Library and its collections and in the history of Protestant dissent are especially invited to attend.

Wednesday 8 February 2012 5.15 to 6.45 pm

Philipp Hunnekuhl (Queen Mary, University of London)
'The Triumph of the "Failed Literator": Henry Crabb Robinson on Metaphysics, Science, and Literature'.

Philipp Hunnekuhl is currently completing his PhD thesis on Henry Crabb Robinson's literary criticism, funded by the AHRC and Queen Mary, University of London. He is a special subject area editor on the Crabb Robinson Project ( and a contributor to its introductory collection of essays, to be published by OUP. His most recent publication is a chapter on Crabb Robinson in the forthcoming volume entitled Informal Romanticism (2012), edited by James Vigus, from which the present paper has been developed. He is also, with James Whitehead at King's College London, assistant editor of the Hazlitt Review.

Henry Crabb Robinson has been regarded, traditionally and very much in line with his own self-depreciative judgement, as a mere intermediary between the more prominent literary figures of his day. Having been excluded from the British universities due to his dissenting allegiance, he studied philosophy, science, and literature at Jena from 1802 to 1805. He aspired to thus become a professional 'literator' after his return to England – a 'person concerned with textual criticism, commentary, and analysis', according to the OED. This paper traces his intellectual development, and it argues that although the plans to lead such an exclusively literary life did not materialise, his 'philosophical erudition unique among British writers in the early nineteenth century' (Vigus) is reflected vividly in his largely informal and fragmented critical commentary on literature. This turns his professional failure into a stunning success as a literary critic. In order to support this claim, the paper will be drawing on a significant amount of as yet unpublished manuscript materials from the Crabb Robinson collection at Dr Williams's Library.


Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from