The Cosmopolitan Lyceum - American Antiquarian Society, Worcester MA, USA - 23-25 September 2011

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The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Globalism & Lecture Culture In Nineteenth-Century America

The Cosmopolitan Lyceum:
Globalism and Lecture Culture in Nineteenth-Century America

The American Antiquarian Society 23-25 September 2011

Confirmed Speakers:
Thomas Augst (New York University)
Peter Gibian (McGill University)
Angela Ray (Northwestern University)
Ronald and Mary Zboray (University Of Pittsburgh)

This conference will bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to consider the phenomenon of the nineteenth-century public lecture in terms of its engagement with global and transnational themes.

Throughout that period, the popular lecture – delivered in learned societies, academies, mechanics' institutes or on commercial tours – was a dominant mode of learning and leisure. It provided a common context for literary and scientific discourse, became a primary vehicle for social reform and institution-building, and was frequently also a dramatic mode, marrying rational amusement with a structure of display. With the emergence of a 'new orality' in American literary and cultural studies, neglected verbal practices are being reclaimed, and the lecture has become important focus of research, a form whose complex relationship to print and global culture we are still only beginning to comprehend.

The Cosmopolitan Lyceum aims to use these eclectic contexts – intellectual life, reform, show culture, and orality – to explore the ways in which lecturing engaged with and made use of global knowledge, realities and experience. Proposals for 20-minute papers are welcomed, and possible topics might include, but are not limited to:
- Lecture culture in transnational and transatlantic contexts
- Popular lecturing and global discourses of race, gender and ethnicity
- Lecture culture, abolition and Black Atlantic history
- Lecturing, comparative politics and transnational reform
- Popular dissemination of scientific discoveries
- Legacies of Elocution and The Scottish Enlightenment
- Travel lectures and the mediation of global knowledge
- Public lecturing and international celebrity
- Orality, print and media culture
- Lecturers as mediators between forms of expert authority


For further information, and to submit proposals for 20-minute papers, please visit or email