UC Berkeley News


Literary scholar Annabel Patterson to deliver Tanner Lectures
Talks to range from Bacon and Locke to American values

02 April 2008

Annabel Patterson, Sterling Professor Emerita of English at Yale and a distinguished literary scholar, will present the Tanner Lectures on Human Values on April 8 and 9. On April 10 she will take part in a seminar discussion with commentators from three academic disciplines.

Patterson's lectures will address the topic "Pandora's Boxes, or How We Store Our Values." The first lecture, on Tuesday, April 8, is titled "How We Do Things With Abstract Nouns: Bacon, Locke, and Williams." The second lecture, on Wednesday, April 9, will be titled "American Keywords: Marriage, Success, and Democracy." These lectures, as well as the seminar discussion on Thursday, April 10, will take place from 4:10 to 6:30 p.m. in the Toll Room of Alumni House. The lecture series is free and open to the public.

Commentators for the lecture series will be Lorna Hutson, Berry Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews; Geoffrey Nunberg, adjunct professor at Berkeley's School of Information; and J.B. Schneewind, professor of philosophy emeritus at Johns Hopkins University.

Having begun her academic career as a student of English renaissance poetry, Patterson soon moved into rhetoric (Hermogenes and the Renaissance, 1970); the history of censorship (Censorship and Interpretation, 1984); the reception of classical texts (Pastoral and Ideology, 1987); historiography (Reading Holinshed's Chronicles, 1994); and especially early-modern political thought (Shakespeare and the Popular Voice, 1989; Early Modern Liberalism, 1997; and Nobody's Perfect: A New Whig Interpretation of History, 2002). Her interests in portraiture, book illustration, and the history of the press inform several of these works.

She constantly returns to Andrew Marvell, whose own work bears on several of these themes. In press is The Long Parliament of Charles II, which developed out of the important Yale edition of Marvell's Prose Works (2003), of which Patterson was editor-in-chief. As these Tanner lectures will attest, she has now moved on to American issues.

Born in England, Patterson emigrated to Canada in 1957. There she enrolled at the University of Toronto, where her B.A. work received the highest prize, the Governor General's Gold Medal. She received her M.A "with distinction" and her Ph.D. from the University of London in 1963 and 1965, respectively. Since then she has taught at Toronto, York University, the University of Maryland at College Park, and Duke University. She moved to Yale's English department in 1994, was made Sterling Professor in 2001, and became a professor emerita in 2005.

Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000, her other distinctions include the Harry Levin Prize from the American Comparative Literature Association for Pastoral and Ideology, the John Ben Snow Prize (a historian's prize of the North American Conference on British Studies) for Reading Holinshed's Chronicles, a Senior Fellowship at the Cornell Society for the Humanities in 1981, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984, a Mellon Fellowship at the National Humanities Center in 1991, and most recently, a Mellon Emeritus Fellowship.

Tanner Lecturers are appointed to recognize uncommon achievement and outstanding ability in the field of human values. Established by American scholar, industrialist, and philanthropist Obert Clark Tanner in 1978, the Tanner Lectures aim to advance scholarly and scientific learning in the area of human values. Berkeley is one of nine institutions to have a Tanner Lecture series; others include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford.

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