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Wednesday, 28 October 2020, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Online Lecture

Convincing Fiction

Professor John Mullan

How does fiction make itself seem like fact? 

Professor John Mullan begins where novels begin: with Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, which showed every novel that followed how to make a ‘strange surprising’ story seem entirely ‘probable’ (the word that eighteenth-century pioneers of fiction liked to use). He will explore the tradition of factuality in the English novel, ending with the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro and examples of recent auto-fiction.


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Given Covid-19, we are live-streaming all our lectures online in 2020-21 and aim to re-introduce in-person lectures gradually as social distancing rules change.

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John is Visiting Gresham Professor of English Literature.

He is the Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature at University College London. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature and is at present writing the volume of the Oxford English Literary History that will cover the period from 1709 to 1784.

John is a regular TV and radio broadcaster and a literary journalist; he writes on contemporary fiction for the Guardian and was a judge for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.

Professor Mullan was appointed Visiting Gresham Professor of English Literature for 2020/21.

In his first lecture series for Gresham College, Visiting Professor John Mullan will combine his scholarly expertise in the history of the English novel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with his interest in contemporary fiction. 

Professor Mullan's lecture series is as follows:

2020/21 The Powers of the Novel

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