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  • Symposium

Jonathan Swift in the 21st Century

This conference and exhibit examine Swift and his works through a contemporary lens, exploring how they have travelled across three centuries and around the world.

This event has already occurred

February 22-24, 2018
Open to the Public
Portrait of Swift

Jonathan Swift was a traveller, in his imagination as well as in life, regularly making his way, by ship and by foot, back and forth between Ireland and England during major periods of his life. Swift also travelled through genres and voices, among men and women, and between politics and religion. His works have travelled as well, through space and time, in numerous editions, along with translations, responses, adaptations, abridgements, continuations, and illustrated versions.

Associated Exhibit

On exhibit February 5, 2018 - May 16, 2018

An online version of the exhibit is still available.

In honor of the 350th anniversary* of Jonathan Swift's birth, this exhibition, based on the collections of the Penn Libraries, will explore the many facets of Swift's life and legacy through an examination of his many voices; his complicated relationships with both men and women; his ever-evolving politics; his many travels, whether by foot, horse, or ship, or in solely his imagination; and his views on the role of religion in society. It will examine how these influences manifested themselves in his writings and in the world's reaction to his words.

The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries holds a number of collections relating to Jonathan Swift, including the Teerink Collection (early editions of Swift's works), the Denison Collection (illustrated editions of Gulliver's Travels), and a collection of books known to have been read by Swift or been part of his library. The Swift's Library and Reading Collection, as well as an oil portrait of Swift and various Swift-related manuscripts and publications, including many Dublin imprints, were the gift of the independent Swift scholar Archibald Elias.

*Swift was supposedly born on November 30, 1667. Since the English calendar during Swift's lifetime (and until 1752, when the British government adopted the Gregorian calendar) began on March 25th (the Feast of the Annunciation, also known at Lady Day), the exhibition will open and the conference will take place during the official anniversary "year" of Swift's birth.

Event Series

Image based on the sign used by the Gotham Book Mart

Jay I. Kislak Symposium

In 2013, the Penn Libraries celebrated the dedication of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, named in honor of Jay I. Kislak (Wharton 1943).

Conference Schedule

Thursday, February 22, 2022

Friday, February 23, 2022

Saturday, February 24, 2018