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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 22, 2005

Scholar To Discuss French Revolution, Fate Of Historical Novel Feb. 28

A leading scholar in British and Scottish fiction, Ian Duncan, will discuss "the best of times and the worst of times" in "The Exterminating Angel: The French Revolution and the Fate of the Historical Novel." The lecture, which is free an open to the public, will be Monday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. in Room E109 Art Building on the University of Iowa campus.

This is the first of three lectures with the theme, "Global History Through the Eyes of the Artist: War and Revolution in the 18th and 19th Centuries," sponsored by the UI 18th- and 19th-Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium as part of the Year of the Arts and Humanities.

Duncan will speak about the way the historical novel in the wake of the French Revolution treats "history" as a state of emergency. Duncan, professor and chair of English at the University of California at Berkeley, has published widely on British and Scottish fiction, romanticism and narrative theory, and his talk sweeps across the history of science, revolution, the novel and "The Tale of Two Cities," said Teresa Mangum, professor of English in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the colloquium, which is affiliated with International Programs.

"Such novels encourage us to find history only in a revolutionary crisis or a civil war that violently disrupts 'common life.'" Mangum says. "He is especially intrigued that Dickens's novel threatens readers with the possibility of extermination, given that in the same historical moment Charles Darwin was changing the face of natural history by arguing that extinction was a gradual, rational part of the grain of 'everyday life.'"

Duncan is the author of "Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens" (Cambridge UP, 1992). His co-edited books include "Scott, Scotland and Romantic Nationalism" (a special issue of Studies in Romanticism, 2001); "Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism" (Cambridge UP, 2004); and the forthcoming "Travel Writing, 1700-1830: An Anthology" (Oxford UP). He has published extensively on the historical novel, Romanticism, modern Scottish literature, Darwin, and the 18th-century "romance revival." He is currently writing "Scott's Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh," which will be published in the "Literature in History" series from Princeton UP.

A reception will follow sponsored by International Programs and the UI English Department.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this lecture, contact Mangum at or at 319-335-0323.

The 18th- and 19th-Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium is affiliated with UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean of international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and the community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

UI President David Skorton's determination to increase public awareness and support of the rich tradition of arts and humanities on campus and throughout Iowa led him to declare academic year 2004-2005 the Year of Arts and Humanities, a time to celebrate that rich tradition and forge cultural linkages between the academic community and communities around the state. The Year of the Arts and Humanities is supported by the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Graduate College.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Teresa Mangum,, 319-335-1323