Mansfield, PA — On April 26, Dr. John M. Ulrich, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mansfield University, presented his paper on the Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle at a symposium held at the University of Cambridge, UK. The symposium, entitled “Thomas Carlyle: Victorian Politics and Political Thought,” featured presentations from scholars based in the US, the UK, and continental Europe.
Ulrich’s paper, “Carlyle, Labor, and ‘Statistic Inquiry,'” focused on Carlyle’s critique of statistics in his political work Chartism (1839), written at a time when statistics was gaining legitimacy as a science in Britain. “It was a tremendous honor for me to be invited to present my work at Cambridge, and to share ideas and perspectives with scholars of nineteenth-century literature, politics, and history based in the US and Europe,” said Ulrich. “Carlyle was a highly influential, and controversial, figure in nineteenth-century British intellectual history. While he recognized the importance of statistical data for understanding the condition of the laboring class, he was deeply skeptical of the ability of statistics to represent fully the lived experience of the poor, whose misery and feelings of injustice, he felt, were not easily reduced to numbers.”
Ulrich has presented his work in the UK on several other occasions, most recently at a conference at the University of Oxford in 2016. He is the author of a book on William Cobbett, Thomas Carlyle, and Benjamin Disraeli entitled Signs of Their Times, and he is co-editor with Chris Vanden Bossche (Univ. of Notre Dame) and Lowell Frye (Hampden-Sydney College) of a work-in-progress, the Strouse Edition of Thomas Carlyle’s Essays on Politics and Society, to be published by the University of California Press.