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Transpennine enlightenment: Literary and philosophical societies in the north of England, 1780-1800

Wilkes, Jennifer (2017) Transpennine enlightenment: Literary and philosophical societies in the north of England, 1780-1800. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis is primarily concerned with the first two decades of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, founded in 1781. Well known to historians of science and medicine, the society has not been much studied by literary historians. This dissertation aims to rectify this situation by taking the word “literary” in the society’s title seriously, and looking at what it meant by providing readings of its publications and studying its activities. The question is complicated because both “science” and “literature” were terms that were in the process of emerging as separate disciplines. The founders of the MLPS were clear in 1781, however, that “physics and the belles lettres” were jointly involved in a process of “improvement.” The first three chapters take the MLPS from its inception up to 1800, investigating, especially, the pressures put on its associational structure by the French Revolution and the reaction against Joseph Priestley’s influential model of improvement via voluntary association and unlimited discussion. The MLPS had a particularly close relationship with groups associated with William Roscoe and James Currie in Liverpool, both of whom were honorary members. The Literary and Philosophical Society founded at Newcastle in 1793 was the direct result of the friendship between Thomas Percival and William Turner (both of whom had been graduates of the Warrington Academy). My final two chapters concentrate on Liverpool and Newcastle respectively, looking at what their development up to around 1800 can tell us about the ethos at Manchester and the broader spirit of the “literary” culture of these societies in their early decades.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.723227
Depositing User: Jennifer Wilkes
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2017 08:19
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17871

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