On Saturday 11th September Professor Keith Cushman gave the DH Lawrence Birthday Lecture 2021. His title was 'Affirmation and Anxiety in Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
Keith Cushman is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has enjoyed Fullbright Fellowships in India and Bulgaria. He is the author of seven books and more than forty essays about the world-famous Old Nottinghamian writer. Professor Cushman is a recipient of the Harry T Moore Award for Lifetime Contributions to DH Lawrence Studies.
The Birthday Lecture 2021 took place online on the 136th anniversary of the birth of Lawrence. Academics and enthusiasts from around the world joined the zoom call.
Professor Cushman highlighted the themes of Affirmation and Anxiety in relation to the central characters of Lawrence's most famous novel. He argued that Constance Chatterley, Sir Clifford and Oliver Mellors all reflected the anxieties that the writer felt, especially about his own failing health.
Lawrence began writing Lady Chatterley's Lover in October 1926. The third and final version was published in the summer of 1928. The author died on Sunday 2nd March 1930.
Earlier in the Festival day there had been talks on Lawrence's mother Lydia, father Arthur, and girlfriend Jessie Chambers. Speaking from his home in Germany, John Worthen, Emeritus Professor at the University of Nottingham, had also given a paper on Lawrence's wife, Baroness Frieda von Richthofen.
Professor Worthen referred to his own undergraduate days at Downing College, Cambridge. FR Leavis, the foremost English literary critic of the 20th century, had taught him. Leavis was a significant champion of Lawrence's work.
The Festival and Birthday Lecture 2021 clearly demonstrated the value of online events. Two of the world's leading authorities on Lawrence shared their knowledge and insights, answering questions from their global audience with humility and humour.