This Friday and Saturday, Bertrand Goldgar, professor of English and Lawrence’s John N. Bergstrom Professor of the Humanities, will speak at an international conference at Yale honoring the life and work of Henry Fielding. Goldgar is one of 12 distinguished scholars attending the conference, which will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of the English author.
The weekend, sponsored by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in collaboration with the Yale University Center for British Art and the Lewis Walpole Library, will feature 12 speakers in four sessions. The weekend also includes performances of two of the 25 plays written by Fielding, “Eurydice” and “Miss Lucy in Town.”
In conjunction with the conference, the Beinecke Library, home to many of Fielding’s important editions, is presenting an exhibition based on their Fielding collection. The exhibition started in mid-August and runs until mid-October.
Goldgar was selected to speak largely because of his extensive studies of Fielding’s works in the past. Goldgar edited several volumes of a collection of Fielding’s works published by the Wesleyan University Press.
Goldgar’s address, “Fielding, Politics, and ‘Men of Genius’,” focuses on Fielding’s political views, a topic that Goldgar became interested in while studying “The History of Tom Jones,” arguably Fielding’s best-known work today.
Other topics to be visited at the conference include the literary relationship between Fielding and his sister, Sarah Fielding, and the relationship between Fielding and contemporary painter William Hogarth. Speakers hail from universities all over the world, including the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Universit de Paris.
Although Goldgar is no longer working with Fielding’s writing, he looks forward to meeting with the conference’s collection of literary experts, some of which are familiar to him, while others are new. Like any conference, says Goldgar, this one is an opportunity to share knowledge and learn, an opportunity that all professors enjoy.