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Diarmid Finnegan, ‘Exeter-Hall Science and Evangelical Rhetoric in mid-Victorian London’

2010 October 6
by lisa hager
A sketch of Exeter Hall from Punch

A sketch of a May meeting in Exeter Hall by the Roman Catholic illustrator, Richard Doyle. The Hall had a reputation for over-heated religious enthusiasm and anti-Catholic rhetoric. Source: Punch, 19 May 1849.

In his article forthcoming in JVC issue 16.1, Diarmid Finnegan explores the ways in which science was mobilized in an immensely popular series of lectures held in London’s Exeter Hall and organized by the fledgling Young Men’s Christian Association. As well as offering a fresh look at the relations between evangelicalism and science in the mid-Victorian period, the article recovers the significance attached to platform culture by evangelicals concerned about the declining influence of the pulpit. Redeeming the much-maligned Exeter Hall was also a key aim of lecture series and science was among the more important cultural resources used for this purpose.

To read a sample lecture by the Rev. Francis Close delivered in January 1858, click here.

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