An Interdisciplinary Collaboration

by Michael McKeon

The Rutgers British Studies Project (RBSP), an interdisciplinary group whose aim is to foster the study of British history and culture across the centuries, was launched during the past academic year. The RBSP provides a common forum for faculty from various disciplines whose scholarship makes Rutgers one of the most important centers for British studies in the United States. Members of the RBSP organizing committee include Alastair Bellany and Seth Koven from the history department, and Ann Baynes Coiro, John Kucich, and myself from the English department.

The RBSP was inaugurated with a lecture delivered by Professor of History John Brewer of the California Institute of Technology. Brewer’s lecture, entitled “Taste and Modernity: Sensibility and Spectacle in late Georgian Britain,” focused on eighteenth century developments in thought that have had a central and lasting influence on modern literate and visual culture in Britain and beyond.

The inaugural lecture for this coming academic year will be given by Professor Nicholas B. Dirks, who is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology, as well as a professor of history and the vice president for arts and sciences at Columbia University. Professor Dirks will deliver his lecture, entitled “Empire on Trial: Edmund Burke, Postcolonial History, and the Problem of Sovereignty,” on October 7. Over the course of the year, the Rutgers British Studies Project will also sponsor three additional lectures by celebrated scholars from other universities, as well as workshops featuring Rutgers faculty and graduate students.