Head Master's Lectures: How to be Melancholy

On 20 September, we hosted the first of our 175th Anniversary Head Master’s Lectures series and welcomed the Professor Mary Ann Lund to share her lecture, How to be Melancholy: A Journey through a Renaissance Disease of the Mind. Please read on to learn more about Professor Mary Ann Lund and to watch the recording of her lecture.

Head Master Dominic Oliver took to the stage to introduce his former student and now Professor of Renaissance English Literature at the University of Leicester, Professor Mary Ann Lund. He recounted a funny memory of hers, from when they were together at the University of Oxford; how he used to write in turquoise ink, and described early modern English literature as groovy. Mary Ann’s links to Lancing College do not stop at Mr Oliver, though, as she also attended a Woodard School.

He went on to list her endless accolades in the world of English literature, from writing a plethora of fascinating books including A User's Guide to Melancholy and Melancholy, Medicine and Religion in Early Modern England: Reading 'The Anatomy of Melancholy', writing articles on subjects including John Donne, Robert Burton, John Bunyan, and Sir Thomas Browne, regularly contributing to BBC Radio 4’s programmes, and even being a key press contact for the incredible findings of the King in the carpark—the uncovering of King Richard III’s bones in Leicester city centre.

After the lecture, Prefect and Upper Sixth student, Hannah C (Manor House), took her place at the lectern to give the Vote of Thanks.

I’d like to give you thanks again, Professor Lund, on behalf of us all for the wonderful lecture tonight. We are privileged immensely here to have such a brilliant variety of speakers invited to give lectures, and I’m sure we can all agree that tonight was among the best. Professor Lund’s talk concerned the prevalence of the melancholy, an often-misunderstood emotion which she termed ‘a renaissance disease of the mind’, across a variety of literature. She brought in cultural references and considered the social view of melancholic emotional states, thinking largely about the visuals of the melancholy: as she noted, we all look good in black.

Hannah C, Manor House

It was Lancing College’s extreme privilege to host Professor Mary Ann Lund for this lecture, which you can watch in full in the video below. We hope you enjoy it just as much as we did and are encouraged to continue the exploration of Renaissance English literature, which both Dominic and Mary Ann would be incredibly supportive of.

Want to hear more from Professor Mary Ann Lund?

You can find her University of Leicester profile here.

A User’s Guide to Melancholy by Professor Mary Ann Lund can be purchased here.

BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week, Understanding Melancholy, featuring Professor Mary Ann Lund, Horatio Clare, Ahmed Hankircan, and Amol Rajan, can be listened to here.