2011 Annual Seminar Print E-mail
Written by Bryan Reid   
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 10:37

The 17th Annual Seminar of The Johnson Society of Australia will he held on Saturday July 9 at the usual venue, the English Speaking Union, beginning with registration at 11am and the first paper to be delivered at 11.30.
The program, which continues to follow the format introduced two years ago, comprises three full-length papers and four “stub” papers – the feature which has proved so popular with our audiences.
We are honoured this year to welcome the distinguished  scholar, Dr Chloe Chard,  a literary historian who lives in London, and who has published widely on travel writing and art criticism. Dr Chard’s paper is concerned with the book written by Mrs Hester Piozzi (Thrale) about her European tour, Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany (1789). 

Other  speakers will be Daniel Vuillemin, who puts the case for a special joint biography of Samuel Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Barbara Niven , who will talk about the development of the forte-piano in the 18th Century and its subsequent influence on music generally.

Seminar Subjects and Speakers


Hester Piozzi’s Grand and Ironic Tour
Hester Thrale left England in 1784, in the wake of the scandal caused by her marriage to Gabriele PIozzi after her first husband’s death – a scandal that left her alienated from many of her friends, including Dr Johnson.  Dr Chard’s paper is concerned with the book of her subsequent European tour, Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany (1789).  Chloe Chard is a literary historian who lives in London, and who has published widely on travel writing and art criticism; She has spent time as a fellow or scholar at numerous research centres in Europe, America and Australia.

“A kettle maker's instrument"?
So scoffed Voltaire in reference to the then recently invented piano, but he was out of line. The development of the piano was an 18th century social and musical phenomenon, and by 1800 it had eclipsed other keyboard instruments in popularity. This paper will look at the evolution of the piano with special attention to Berlin and London, and the place of the piano in the lives of Samuel Johnson’s circle of friends. Barbara Niven, Secretary of the JSA, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Melbourne and is also a devotee of 18th century music and will illustrate her paper with selections from her vast library of compact disks.

"The only man whom I call a friend": Towards a Dual Biography of Dr Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds
Much of what is popularly known of Dr Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds's association is anecdotal, as recounted in James Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1791). However, the pair shared an intimacy that was unrivalled by Boswell's relationship with Johnson. This paper will put forth the case for a specialized dual biography of Johnson and Reynolds.

Daniel Vuillermin recently completed his PhD, a biography of the American artist, Herbert Kruckman, at the School of Humanities and the Arts at ANU. He is a former editor of Who's Who in Australia (2008) and was a research assistant and contributor to The Making of Dr Johnson (2009).

“Stub” Papers
18th Century words  – Prof Kate Burridge
The patron saint of Grub Street – Bryan Reid
A Johnsonian reading – Bronwen Hickman
A collector’s treasure – John Byrne