Re-reading Leavis: Valuing Literature(s) in Our Time

Event Date: 
Monday, September 18, 2017 - 10:00 to Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 17:40

Booking is now open for the conference. Please download the booking form from this page, or book online! Venue: Downing College, Cambridge

F. R. Leavis was one of the most influential literary critics in the twentieth-century, known for his insistence on the humanistic value of literature – the value of literature in human life.

 For Leavis, and literary humanism generally, literature offers insights into the human condition of a kind that cannot be obtained by other means. Since the 1980s, the focus on literature has relaxed in schools and universities to bring in film, media and performance. This year's conference will reflect on the waning place of literature in our time, and examine whether and how potential to counter this can be drawn today from Leavis's critical work.

Confirmed speakers include: Iain Bailey, Catherine Belsey, Michael Bell, Philip Davis, Bob Hayward, Michael Silk, James Smith, Joel Swann, Jeremy Tambling and Heward Wilkinson.

Monday 18

10:00 Registration and coffee
10:30 Welcome to the conference by Downing Vice Master TBC
10:40 Opening remarks by Society Chair Peter D. Sharrock
10:50 Howard Jacobson TBC (chair: Peter D. Sharrock)
12:00 James Smith 'Leavis, Literature, and the Communal' (chair: Michael Bell)
13:15-14:15 Lunch
14:15 Catherine Belsey 'Milton, Leavis, and God' (chair: Heward Wilkinson)
15:30 Michael Bell ‘Leavis, Nietzsche and the Idea of Culture’ (chair: Heward Wilkinson)
17:00 Leavis Society AGM in the Leavis Room, Downing College
18:00 Drinks reception

Tuesday 19

09:00 Bob Hayward 'With and beyond Leavis, exemplary literary critic in a democratic society' (chair: Danièle Moyal-Sharrock)
10:15 comfort break
10:30 Philip Davis 'Can I be a Leavisite?' (chair: Catherine Belsey)                       
11:45 Jeremy Tambling 'Milton in Blake, and both in Leavis' (chair: James Smith)
13:00 Buffet lunch
14:00 Heward Wilkinson 'Reading enactment: FRL, Wittgenstein, and Derrida' (chair: Paul Filmer)
15:15 Michael Silk 'Rereading Leavis: Poetic Language and Value' (chair: Bob Hayward)
15:55-16:15 Coffee / Tea
16:15-17:30 Joel Swann (Portsmouth) '"Perpetually New": George Herbert and Scrutiny critics' (chair: Jeremy Tambling)   
17:30-17:40 Closing remarks: Peter Sharrock

The Downing conference program is available for download at 2017-Downing-conf-program.docx

Accommodation at Downing College (Limited Availability)
To ensure room availability at Downing, please contact the Society Secretary. Single rooms are £95 and Double rooms are £130. Please email Glenys Willars before completing the booking form. The cost for the rooms must be added to the total on the booking form.

Accommodation in Cambridge (if you will not be booking at Downing)
Other Bed and Breakfast and hotel accommodation are also available in Cambridge. For further advice, go to the Visit Cambridge website to make your own arrangements. The Society cannot offer assistance with these.

If you would like to join the Leavis Society, please visit our page: