"Victorian" came in the twentieth century to stand for sexual repression and social convention. Personal life was governed by complex and rigid rules of behavior. Like other aspects of Victorian culture this began to break down in the fin-de-siécle. Yet recent research, discussed in this lecture, has undermined this rather simplistic picture and begun to explore some of the contradictions and complexities of Victorian attitudes to marriage and sexuality. The place of women in Victorian culture was by no means as passive or subordinate as conventional images of the era suggest.
As well as being the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric, Professor Richard J. Evans FBA is Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He has lectured extensively all over the world at a variety of literary festivals and events, is widely published and is a frequent contributor to the broadcast media and the press.
He has been Editor of the Journal of Contemporary History since 1998 and a judge of the Wolfson Literary Award for History since 1993. His most recent publication was the third volume of his monumental large-scale history of the Third Reich, The Third Reich at War, which was published in 2008.
Professor Evans's area of research interest lies predominantly in German history, especially social and cultural history, since the mid-nineteenth century. He has worked on movements of emancipation and liberation, including the feminist movement and the labor movement, on social inequality in the urban environment, and on the social history of death and disease. His work on the history of crime has involved examining literary discourses and their interaction with social models of deviance, both those articulated by the authorities and those lived by deviants themselves.
Since acting as principal expert witness in the David Irving libel trial before the High Court in London in 2000, his work has dealt with Holocaust denial and the clash of epistemologies when history enters the courtroom.