2024 Garnett Sedgewick Lecture | “From Yuquot to Leicester Square” with Dr. Robbie Richardson

Tuesday April 2, 2024
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

The Department of English Language & Literatures is pleased to invite you to the 2024 Garnett Sedgewick Lecture, featuring Professor Robbie Richardson (Department of English and Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, Princeton University). Dr. Richardson, who is a member of the Pabineau First Nation (Mi’kmaw), will present a talk entitled “From Yuquot to Leicester Square: Indigenous Northwest Culture in Eighteenth-Century Britain.”

This lecture is happening on Tuesday April 2, 2024 at 6:00 pm, and can be attended in-person at The xʷθəθiqətəm (Place of Many Trees), Liu institute for Global Studies or virtually via Zoom. For in-person attendance, a reception will follow.

Whether you choose to join us virtually or in-person, please be sure to register for the event.

Garnett Sedgewick was a professor in the Department of English at UBC from 1918 to 1948. Professor Sedgewick specialized in Shakespeare and Chaucer. In 1920, he became the first Head of the Department.

This event is partially funded by the Indigenous Strategic Plan.

Talk Abstract

From Yuquot to Leicester Square: Indigenous Northwest Culture in Eighteenth-Century Britain

This talk will examine the representation of the peoples and cultures of the Pacific Northwest in eighteenth-century Britain. Beginning with the final voyage of Captain Cook in 1778, Indigenous material culture from Nootka Sound was brought to Britain for museum displays and private collections alongside material from Oceania. It was most notably shown at the British Museum, where some of it remains, and in a special room at the Leverian Museum at Leicester Square, London, where some of the material was additionally painted in a series of watercolours by Sarah Stone. This talk will consider how this influx of material interacted with previous ethnographic collections in Britain and assess its role in the rise of the museum itself as a repository of empire. At the same time it will look at European accounts of Nuu-chah-nulth people in both published voyages and depictions of the Nootka Crisis between Britain and Spain to understand their unique role in colonial discourse while also highlighting Indigenous agency and survival.


Speaker Bio

Robbie Richardson specializes in eighteenth-century British and transatlantic literature and culture. He received his PhD in English and Cultural Studies from McMaster University, followed by a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship through the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture (ICSLAC) at Carleton University. He spent 7 years based in London, teaching at the University of Kent in Canterbury and Paris, which has informed his interdisciplinary research looking at the interactions between Indigenous and European cultures. His interests include Indigenous Studies, art and material culture, the history of museums and collecting, and the literature of empire. He is a member of Pabineau First Nation (Mi’kmaw) in New Brunswick, Canada.

Richardson’s book The Savage and Modern Self: North American Indians in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2018) examines the representations of North American “Indians” in novels, poetry, captivity narratives, plays, and material culture from eighteenth-century Britain. It argues that depictions of “Indians” in British literature were used to critique and articulate evolving ideas about consumerism, colonialism, “Britishness,” and, ultimately, the “modern self” over the course of the century. Richardson’s next book project looks at the history of Indigenous objects from the Americas and the South Pacific in Europe up to 1800, and the ways in which these materials and the epistemologies they represented informed primarily British understandings of their own past and present. He has current and forthcoming publications on British depictions of wampum and the origin of writing, on the tomahawk and scalping knife trade, and on eighteenth-century antiquarian collections of Indigenous objects.