Dr Mary-Ann Constantine to deliver the 2017 O'Donnell Lecture at Oxford University

Posted on 8 May 2017
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Moses Griffith, Caernarfon Castle (National Library of Wales)

This coming Friday (12th May), Dr Mary-Ann Constantine will deliver the 2017 O'Donnell Lecture at Oxford University.

The O’Donnell Lectures in Celtic Studies were established in 1954 in honour of Charles James O’Donnell. Under the terms of his bequest the lectures can examine British or Celtic elements in the English language or in the existing population of England. The first O’Donnell Lecturer was presented by J.R.R. Tolkien, who was appointed in 1954 and spoke on English and Welsh.

Dr Constantine is Reader at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS) and Principal Investigator on the major AHRC-funded research project Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour (1760-1820).

Drawing on the project’s work, Dr Constantine will deliver a lecture which examines Britishness entitled Curious Traveller: Britain, Britons and Britishness in Thomas Pennant’s 'Tours'.

Launched in 2014, the four year project is jointly run by CAWCS and Glasgow University, and involves transcribing Pennant’s vast and scattered correspondence, as well as publishing a number of later Welsh and Scottish tours. Reflecting Pennant’s own wide-ranging interests, this is an excitingly interdisciplinary project, exploring the period’s attitude to the British ‘peripheries’ through art, literature, history, antiquarianism and the natural sciences. Many of these themes are addressed in a new book of essays, co-edited by Dr Constantine and Professor Nigel Leask, which has just come out from Anthem Press - Enlightenment Travel and British Identities: Thomas Pennant’s Tours in Scotland and Wales.  

Speaking about the lecture and subject matter, Dr Constantine said:

“The concept of Britain and the nature of British identity are very much in our minds (and our newspapers) at the moment. This lecture will explore eighteenth century ideas about the history of the different nations and cultures of the British Isles, and show how tourists and travellers brought their own notions of ‘Britishness’ to bear on the sights and the sites they encountered – especially in Wales. How did the ‘Home Tour’ reveal - or conceal - the stories of our complex multi-cultural past?”

The lecture will take place at 17:30 in Lecture Theatre 2 at the Faculty of English Language & Literature, Oxford University.

More information about the Curious Travellers project can be found on their website - www.curioustravellers.ac.uk

More information about the new book of essays can be found on Anthem Press’ website - http://www.anthempress.com/enlightenment-travel-and-british-identities

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