“Mechanic Art and Elocutionary Science”: Speech Production in British Literature, 1770s-1820s
Dr Mary Fairclough
My research argues that studies of speech, be they physiological, political or poetic, saw increased attention and took on new radical significance in British literature in the politically turbulent period from the 1770s to 1820s. I focus on Erasmus Darwin, John Thelwall and Percy Shelley, three writers whose work encompassed science, politics, and poetry, and drew charges of radicalism. I explore the way their concern with the mechanics of speech production implicated their writing in politically-loaded contemporary debates about materialism, and a developing conception of Literature and Science as distinct modes of writing and thinking. More broadly, my research interests include science and medicine in the literature of the long eighteenth century, radical politics, and materialist philosophy.
I hold a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford and completed my MA in Literature of the Romantic Period, 1775-1832 at York in 2016. I am the British Association for Romantic Studies European Engagement Fellow for 2018. My current research is funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities.