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William Matthews memorial lectures

In 1981, Birkbeck received a bequest from the estate of the late Professor William Matthews for an annual lecture on either the English language or medieval English literature. The lectures alternate between these subjects. 

2018

Bernardine Evaristo, 'Mongrel tongues/mongrel nation: validating the vernacular through literature: Abi? know what I’m sayin? Ya get me? Seen?' (blog post)

2017

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Professor of English, George Washington University: 'At sea in the Middle Ages: Noah's Ark and life during climate change (video)'. 

2016

Marina Warner, Professor of English and Creative Writing, Birkbeck: 'Translumination or travesty?'. 

2015

Elizabeth Robertson, Professor of English Language, University of Glasgow: 'Chaucer's and Wordsworth's vivid daisies'. 

2013

Philip Hensher: 'Are you talking to me? Greetings and negotiations, bro-ing and mate-ing in English conversation'. 

2012

Mary Carruthers, Professor Emeritus of Literature, New York University: 'Ordinary beauty in the Middle Ages'. 

2011

Anne Carson: 'Uncle falling'. 

2009

Steven Kruger, Professor of English and Medieval Studies, City University of New York: 'The late-medieval literature of conversion'. 

2008

John Simpson: 'Degrees of certainty: historical lexicography in the twenty-first century'. 

2007

Elaine Treharne, Professor of English, Stanford University: 'Old English texts and manuscripts: the good, the bad, the ugly'. 

2006

Colin MacCabe, Professor of English and Film, University of Pittsburgh: 'In words we are made flesh: towards a new Cambridge philology'. 

2005

David Wallace, Judith Rodin Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania: 'Margery Kempe in Gdansk, 1433'. 

2004

Ali Smith: 'It don’t mean a thing'. 

2003

Helen Cooper, Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English, University of Cambridge: 'Playing with fire'. 

2002

Terence Brown, Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature, The University of Dublin: 'Yeats, Beckett and the ghost in the machine'. 

2001

Sarah Beckwith, Katherine Everett Gilbert Professor of English, Duke University: 'How to do words with things: medieval drama and the sense of instruction'. 

2000

Michael Wood, Professor of Public History, University of Manchester. 

1999

Tom Shippey, Professor Emeritus, Saint Louis University: 'Bibliophobia: hatred of the book in the Middle Ages'. 

1998

Douglas Dunn, Professor of English, University of St Andrews: 'Reaching down for the language'. 

1997

Paul Strohm, J. R. R. Tolkien Professor of Medieval Language and Literature, Oxford University: 'Sir John Oldcastle: another ill-framed knight'. 

1996

Maggie Gee OBE: 'How may I speak in my own voice? Language and the forbidden'. 

1995

Lee Patterson, Frederick Hilles Professor of English, Yale University: 'Putting the wife in her place'. 

1994

Neil Bartlett: 'The uses of monotony: repetition in the language of Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Edmund White and Juan Goytisolo'. 

1993

 J A Burrow, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Bristol: 'Thinking in poetry: three medieval examples'. 

1992

J. H. Prynne: 'Stars, tigers and the shape of words'.  

1991

Jill Mann, Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English, Cambridge University: 'The narrative of distance, the distance of narrative in Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur'. 

1990

John Barrell, Professor of English, University of York: 'The flight of syntax: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Tom Raworth'. 

1989

V. A. Kolve, UCLA Foundation Professor of English, UCLA. 

1987

Professor Edward Said, Professor of Literature, Columbia University. 

1986

Robert Latham, CBE, Professor of History, University of Cambridge. 

1985

Christopher Ricks, Professor of English, University of Bristol. 

1984

A C Spearing, Professor of English, University of Virginia: 'Renaissance Chaucer and Father Chaucer'. 

1983

Peter Dronke, Professor of Medieval Latin Literature, University of Cambridge. 

1982

Derek Brewer, Professor of English, University of Cambridge.