Lunchtime Talk with Sean Hughes on George Eliot on How to be Disappointed

Date / Time

  • March 7, 2023
    12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States

Lunchtime Talks at The Rosenbach are sponsored by Lenore Steiner and Perry Lerner. 


  • Admission is $15. Student admission is $10. 50% off for Rosenbach members, free for the Delancey Society. Not a member? Learn more.
  • This is an in-person program at The Rosenbach. Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation. If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on November 14, for members on November 21, and for the general public on November 28.


George Eliot is one of the profoundest thinkers on the subject of disappointment. That’s one of the reasons that her work has had such an enduring legacy: Virginia Woolf praised Eliot’s masterpiece Middlemarch as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.” It’s also been a source of ambivalence and even frustration for critics who wish that her heroines wound up more empowered and less, well, disappointed. In this talk, we’ll explore both the philosophical and practical sides of lowered expectations, both the comedy and tragedy of quiet resignation. In the process, we’ll see how Eliot’s fiction is a source of solace and an enduring challenge for anyone reflecting on their own missed opportunities and wasted potential. 

About the Speaker 

Sean Hughes is a Philly-based writer and editor who has taught at Bryn Mawr College and Rutgers University – New Brunswick, where he completed a PhD in English Literature in 2020. His research interests include nineteenth-century literature, the relationship between literature and philosophy, historicism, and poetics. His article “George Eliot, Typology, and the Moral Psychology of Historicism” was published in the Spring 2022 issue of English Literary History. In addition to his academic work, he is also a poetry editor and the co-creator of the webcomic Wally and the Witches. 

About Lunchtime Talks at The Rosenbach 

Enjoy In Conversation Programs at midday with leading scholars, artists, and authors talking about their work. Tea sandwiches and light refreshments included. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *