Skip to content

QMCECS Seminar: John Barrell, 25 Nov 2015

November 17, 2015

25 November 2015

Professor John Barrell

Queen Mary University of London

‘The Meeting of the Waters’

Thomas Moore’s ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ was one of the most popular and most often performed songs in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, in Britain as well as in Ireland, in the USA, in Australia and elsewhere in the Empire. It became an anthem of the temperance movement, of the Irish Land League, and of canal-builders in America. This paper however is as much about the history of its title-phrase as of the song itself. By 1914, the song’s popularity made the phrase one of the commonest place-names in the empire. Hundreds of places were known as the ‘meeting of the waters’. Nowadays, however, though it survives as the name of an online dating-site, as a place-name the phrase has all but disappeared, and with it the memory that this or that place was ever known as ‘the meeting of the waters’.

John Barrell is Professor of English Literature in the Department of English at Queen Mary University of London. He has published widely on the literature, history and art of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Britain, focusing on language, landscape, law, empire, theories of society and progress, and the theory of painting. His most recent book, Edward Pugh of Ruthin, was published by the University of Wales Press in 2013. He is slowly writing a book on the artists of the Royal Academy and the politics of reform in the 1790s, and has recently begun a new project on Thomas Moore and the Irish diaspora. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the English Association, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters of the University of Chicago, an honorary D. Litt, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and in 2014 became an Honorary Fellow of King’s College Cambridge.

Time: 5.00-7.00pm.

Venue: Seminar Room, Lock-Keeper’s Cottage Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End, London, E1 4NS

Convenors: Prof Markman Ellis, English (; Prof Colin Jones, History (; Prof Miles Ogborn, Geography (; Prof Amanda Vickery, History (, Prof Barbara Taylor, English and History (, Prof John Barrell, English (

[Travel instructions: Central Line or District Line to Mile End. Exit tube station, turn left down Mile End Road, cross Burdett Road, go under the Mile End Green Bridge (a large yellow bridge), over the canal, and the college is on the left. The Lock-Keeper’s Cottage is the third building on the right].

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: