Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies

The Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies offers a space in which to share the latest interdisciplinary research in the field from a range of internationally-renowned scholars. We host regular lectures and panel discussions throughout the year, as part of a flexible programme of events.

Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies

Autumn Term 2019 Programme

Monday 18th November, 7.30 – 9.00. Room 106, 43 Gordon Square.

Prof. Kirstie Blair (Strathclyde). ‘Excelsior! Inspirational Verse and the Victorian Industrial Worker’.

This paper uses research from the ‘Piston, Pen & Press’ project to discuss the enormous popularity of inspirational, motivating verse, a genre usually critically disregarded. It examines the role such poetry played in the cultures of working-class self-improvement and mutual improvement, for both working-class writers and readers.

Prof Kirstie Blair is the author of numerous articles/chapters and three books on Victorian poetry and its wider impacts on Victorian culture: her latest study, Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press and Community, has just been published by OUP. She is the PI on a 2-year AHRC project, ‘Piston, Pen & Press: Literary Cultures in the Industrial Workplace’, on which she works closely with a number of industrial heritage museums and creative partners. She is currently running a series of MOOCs on ‘Working Lives’, exploring the history of Victorian workers on the railways, in coal-mining, and in textile factories and mills.

This event is open to anyone who wishes to attend.


Unless otherwise noted, all sessions take place in the Keynes Library, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD. Unless otherwise noted, the sessions are free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

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