London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, Henry Crabb Robinson and his European Romantic Circle, Friday 16 February 2018, Senate House, London







The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will take place on Friday 16 February 2018 and feature an international panel on Henry Crabb Robinson and his European Romantic Circle. As our guest speakers, we are delighted to welcome James Vigus (Queen Mary University of London), who will speak on Crabb Robinson, Aesthetic Autonomy, and Staël’s Corinne, or Italy, and Philipp Hunnekuhl (University of Hamburg), whose paper is entitled Critical Dissemination: Kant, Hazlitt, and Crabb Robinson. Abstracts appear below.

The seminar will be held in the Bloomsbury Room (G35, ground floor) at Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30. The papers will be followed by a discussion and wine reception. Everyone is invited, including postgraduates and members of the public. Admission is free.

DSCN0502-(2)[1]James Vigus is Senior Lecturer in Romanticism at Queen Mary University of London. He previously held research posts at the Institute of Philosophy at the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, and at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich. His research focuses on the transfer of ideas in the period of European Romanticism, and on the relationship between Romantic writing and religious dissent. His publications include Platonic Coleridge (2009) and a critical edition of Henry Crabb Robinson’s Essays on Kant, Schelling, and German Aesthetics (2010). He is currently co-editing Robinson’s Reminiscences for Oxford University Press as part of the Robinson Editorial Project. More details are available on the Project website at

HunnekuhlPhilipp Hunnekuhl is a Fellow of the German Research Foundation at the University of Hamburg and a Visiting Fellow at the Queen Mary Centre for Religion and Literature in English. He is the editor of Henry Crabb Robinson’s Early Diaries (1790–1810), fifteen manuscript volumes detailing Robinson’s upbringing as a Dissenter, his travels in Germany and time as a war correspondent, and his intellectual life, including his extensive European contacts. This edition is under contract to Oxford University Press as part of the Robinson Editorial Project. He is also currently completing a monograph on Henry Crabb Robinson and European Romanticism, and has published journal articles on Robinson, William Hazlitt, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Charles Lamb. He is a committee member of the Hazlitt Society and assistant editor for The Hazlitt Review.


Crabb Robinson, Aesthetic Autonomy, and Staël’s Corinne, or Italy

In 1804, Henry Crabb Robinson presented a series of private lectures on German philosophy and aesthetics to Madame de Staël and Benjamin Constant. This paper considers these three writers as a productive constellation. It argues that they did not merely attempt to grasp the basic tenets of Kantian and early German Romantic thought, but coherently developed their own ideas. The first part of the paper will outline the conception of aesthetic autonomy that emerged from Robinson’s final lecture. Second, it will show that this conception influenced Staël’s subsequent publications, especially Corinne, ou l’Italie (1807). The notion of aesthetic autonomy presented by Robinson and discussed by Constant and Staël helped to make Corinne the richest of all Romantic novels of ideas.  James Vigus

Critical Dissemination: Kant, Hazlitt, and Crabb Robinson

In her 1998 Hazlitt and the Reach of Sense, Uttara Natarajan draws attention to the ‘strong intellectual affinity’ between William Hazlitt’s concepts and those of Immanuel Kant and his successors. This paper scrutinizes the origins of this affinity: it reads Hazlitt’s early philosophical writings in the light of Henry Crabb Robinson’s 1804 tutorials on Kantian philosophy for Germaine de Staël and his manuscript notebook for 1806. Doing so will reveal a paradigm shift in Hazlitt’s metaphysics – from the imagination establishing disinterestedness diachronically to the ‘formative’, or synthesizing, mind along the lines of Kant – as well as enough circumstantial evidence to suggest Robinson’s informal philosophical dissemination as the root cause of this paradigm shift. To Robinson, Hazlitt was the most promising anchor for Kant’s thought in England at the time, which is probably why Hazlitt received a similar set of tutorials by Robinson some two years after de Staël.  Philipp Hunnekuhl