Past Lewis Walpole Library Lectures

2024: The 26th Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Music on the Dark Side of 1800: Listening to the Blind Virtuosa, Mademoiselle Paradis

Thursday, March 28, 2024, 5:30 pm

Yale University Art Gallery, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Lecture Hall, 1111 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510

delivered by Annette Richards, Given Foundation Professor in the Humanities and University Organist, Cornell University

In concerts across Europe in the 1780s, the young Viennese virtuosa Maria Theresia Paradis made blindness visible, even audible. Her performances invited listeners and viewers primed by horror ballads and literary romance to experience her story of trauma and misfortune within the frame of fictional narratives of doomed innocence and victimized Gothic heroines. Yet her outspoken views on blindness, informed by her own experience and contemporary philosophical discourse (by Diderot, Condillac, and Herder, among many others) explicitly resisted the language of victimization, even as she sold pity for profit. This lecture brings to sounding life the Paridisian contradiction between performing disability for money and resisting pity. It asks what 18th-century music culture can tell us about contemporary views on blindness and explores the ways the public performances of a young female virtuoso simultaneously embraced and critiqued a culture of gawking spectatorship, freak show aesthetics, and the ethics and economics of pity. How did this Gothic musical heroine capture the public imagination, and what does she reveal about how music looked and sounded on the dark side of 1800?

Color headshot of Annette Richards, a woman with short blond hair looking toward the right, a slight smile and raised eyebrows

Annette Richards is Professor of Music and University Organist at Cornell, and the Executive Director of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies. She is a performer and scholar with a specialty in 18th-century music and aesthetics, and interdisciplinary research into music, literature and visual culture.

Dr. Richards was educated at Oxford University, (BA, MA) Stanford University (PhD) and the Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam (Performer’s Diploma, Uitvoerend Musicus).
At Cornell Prof. Richards teaches courses on eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century music aesthetics and criticism; intersections between music and visual culture; music and the uncanny; the undergraduate history survey; the organ, culture and technology; as well as organ performance.
n.b. The lecture will be recorded and made available later on the Lewis Walpole Library playlist on the Yale Library YouTube channel.

2022: The Twenty-Fifth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture 

Thursday, October 13, 2022 5:30 PM

What are dogs doing in eighteenth-century British art?

Thomas W. Laqueur
Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus,
University of California, Berkeley.

Video Recording of lecture

Prof. Laqueur will be speaking about the ways in which dogs mediate human sociability and more specifically about how they function formally in art to bind together the various elements– human and material– of an image. He will discuss images of dogs in the studies of scholars, like portrait of Walpole and his dog in the Library at Strawberry Hill, and move on to a discussion of the various contexts in which it might be understood: from the paintings of Carpaccio and Rubens to the eighteenth century and beyond; dogs in eighteenth century British art from Hogarth’s “Self Portrait” to the many family scenes of the period; and then more generally dogs in art as they constitute part of a symbolic system– world making and critical in our social cognition. A short coda on interpreting Balak,  the most famous dog in Hebrew literature, in the Isreali Nobel Prize winning novelist Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s greatest novel–Only Yesterday– will get us back to Walpole in his study and the question the lecture poses: what are all those dogs doing in Eighteenth Century British art?

color photo of Tom LaqueurThomas Laqueur is Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus at UC Berkeley. He has written on the history of sexuality, of death and commemoration, of religion, and of human rights and humanitarianism.  His most recent book is The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains. Laqueur is a regular contributor to the London Review of BooksThe Three Penny Review and other journals. He is currently writing a series of essays each organized around what dogs are doing in canonical works of art by among others Giotto, Piero di Cosimo, Titian, Durer, Veronese, Valasquez, and Goya as well around other images and artifacts—paw prints on Babylonian cuneiform tiles and Neolithic rock painting.


2019: Twenty-Fourth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Thursday, April 4, 2019, 5:30 PM

Was There an American Enlightenment?

by Caroline Winterer

Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities, and

Director, Stanford Humanities Center

The American Enlightenment is often viewed as a singular era bursting with new ideas as the U.S. sought to assert itself in a new republic free of the British monarchy. In this talk, Stanford historian Caroline Winterer shows how the myth and romanticization of an American Enlightenment was invented during the Cold War to calm fears of totalitarianism overseas. She’ll then look behind the 20th-century mythology, rescuing a “real” eighteenth-century American Enlightenment that is far different than the one we usually imagine.

Location: Yale Center for British Art Lecture Hall, 1080 Chapel St., New Haven 


Caroline Winterer is Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Stanford Humanities Center. She is an American historian, with special expertise in American thought and culture. Her most recent book is American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason (Yale, 2016). Winterer’s other books include The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750-1900 (2007) and The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780-1910 (2002). 

For mapping the social network of Benjamin Franklin she received an American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian Institution; an article about the project appeared in Smithsonian Magazine(Dec. 2013). She has received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Spencer Foundation, among others. She has published peer-reviewed articles in the American Historical Review, Journal of American History, William and Mary Quarterly, American Quarterly, Journal of the Early Republic, Eighteenth-Century Studies, and Modern Intellectual History. Winterer has also curated two exhibits of rare books and artifacts: Ancient Rome & America at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia (2010) and also The American Enlightenment at the Stanford Library (2011). 

Image: Thomas Rowlandson after G.M. Woodward, Iohn Bull Making Observations on the Comet, 1807

2018: Twenty-third Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

2018 23rd Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Pride, Prejudice and Portraits: The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen

Claudia L. Johnson, Murray Professor of English Literature, Princeton University

April 4, 2018

2016: Twenty-second Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

poster for lecture "Mr Boswell Goes to Corsica" with details in text and image Mr. Boswell Goes to Corsica: Charismatic Authority in the Age of Democratic Revolutions

David A. Bell, Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor, Department of History, Princeton University

October 6, 2016

2014: Twenty-first Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Offensive Vulgarity in an Age of Enlightenment

Steve Bell, principal editorial cartoonist for The Guardian

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2013: Twentieth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

The Ladies Library: Or, Benjamin Franklin’s Sister’s Books

Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ‘41 Professor of American History, Harvard University

November 8, 2013

2012: Nineteenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Robert Burns and Scottish Independence

Robert Crawford, Professor of Modern Scottish Literature, University of St. Andrews

September 20, 2012

2011: Eighteenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Family Life Makes Tories of Us All”: Love and Power at Home in Georgian England

Amanda Vickery, Professor of Early Modern History, Queen Mary, University of London

October 21, 2011

2010: Seventeenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Romantic Science

Richard Holmes

Author of The Age of Wonder

October 29, 2010

2009: Sixteenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Visualizing Religious Difference: Picart’s Religious Ceremonies and Customs of All the Peoples of the World (1723-1737)

Lynn Hunt

Eugen Weber Professor of History, UCLA

May 8, 2009

2008: Fifteenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Feeling Free in the Enlightenment: Diderot versus Rousseau, or, Philosophy versus Lived Experience

by Leo Damrosch

the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature at Harvard University

April 18, 2008

2007: Fourteenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Observation in the Enlightenment

by Lorraine Daston

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and The University of Chicago

April 27, 2007

2006: Thirteenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Slander: The Art and Politics of Slinging Mud, Paris and London, 1770-1795

by Robert Darnton

Shelby Cullom Davis ‘30 Professor of European History, Princeton University

April 7, 2006

2005: Twelfth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Thomas Paine and the Intellectual Underpinnings of American Democracy

by Joyce Appleby

Professor Emerita of History, UCLA

April 22, 2005

2004: Eleventh Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

‘The Faithless Column and the Crumbling Bust’: Alexander Pope and Sculptural Portraiture

by Malcolm Baker

Professorial Research Fellow, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Professor, Art History and The History of Collecting, University of Southern California

April 23, 2004

2003: Tenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Mr. Handel Puts on an Opera

by Nicholas McGegan

Music Director, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco

April 8, 2003

2002: Ninth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Love and Madness in Eighteenth-Century Britain

by John Brewer

John and Marion Sullivan University Professor, The University of Chicago

March 1, 2002

Country House weekend held in conjunction with the Lecture

March 1-3, 2002, Farmington

2001: Eighth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Et in Arcadia ego: The Eighteenth Century of the 1920s

by Terry Castle

Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University

February 16, 2001

1999: Lectures

Origins of the Gothic Revival Revisited

by Michael McCarthy

Professor of the History of Art, University College Dublin

October 20, 1999

Some Thoughts on Hogarth’s Jew: Issues in Current Hogarth Scholarship

by Ronald Paulson

Professor of English, The Johns Hopkins University

October 19, 1999

1999: Seventh Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Britain and Islam, 1650-1750: Different Perspectives on Difference

by Linda Colley

Leverhulme Research Professor of History, London School of Economics

October 15, 1999

1998: Sixth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Exposures: Sex, Privacy and Sensibility

by Patricia Meyer Spacks

Edgar F. Shannon Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature, The University of Virginia

April 9, 1998

1997: Fifth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Walpole’s Hogarth

by David Bindman

Professor of the History of Art, University College London

February 5, 1997

1995: Fourth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Horace Walpole’s Gout: The Politics of Physic

by Roy Porter

Professor, The Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine

April 5, 1995

1994: Third Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Tombs That Tell Tales: the Romance Revival and Modern Nationalism

by Marilyn Butler

Rector, Exeter College, Oxford University

March 24, 1994

1993: Second Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

Sexualities in Eighteenth-Century England

by Lawrence Stone

Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Princeton University

April 15, 1993

1992: First Lewis Walpole Library Lecture

The Scourge of the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Carlyle

by Noel Annan

author of Our Age: English Intellectuals between the World Wars

April 8, 1992