BARS Blog

BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Call for Papers: Coleridge Conference 2020 – 27th-31st July in the Lakes

From 27-31 July 2020 the Coleridge Conference will be held, for the first time, in the Lake District, in the heart of Newlands, the valley he loved for ‘the exceeding greenness & pastoral beauty of the Vale itself, with the savage wildness of the Mountains, their Coves, and long arm-shaped & elbow-shaped Ridges’.

 

As usual, the conference will be both intense and relaxed, as the mostly plenary sessions overspill into garden parties, poetry readings and hikes along the river, up Causey Pike or to the nearby pub and tearooms.  A ropes course, volleyball and archery will be available for the more athletic Coleridgeans.  Paddling and stone-skimming in the beck is also possible.

This time, our keynote speaker is Mary Favret, author of War at a Distance and Romantic Correspondence.

Our venue, Newlands Activity Centre, is viewable here: https://www.activity-centre.com/facilities/grounds

The cost, for full residence, meals, fee and transport to and from Penrith railway station will be approx. £380-£520, depending on the level of accommodation you choose.  Bursaries for part of this cost will be available to graduate students and to unwaged scholars on a competitive basis.  If you wish to be considered for a bursary, say so and explain why at the top of your proposal.

The conference is supported in 2020 by the Friends of Coleridge and the Charles Lamb Society.

Proposals for 20 minute papers on Coleridge and related authors/topics are now invited (Charles Lamb especially welcome): send a maximum of 200 words to stcconference@gmail.com  by the end of November.  Please put your name, email address and affiliation at the top of the email and at the top of the attached proposal.

We look forward to seeing you.

Tim Fulford, Kerri Andrews and Jo Taylor

Stephen Copley Research Report: Francesco Marchionni on Nietzsche

To find out how to apply for a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, visit the main BARS site here.

Thanks to the Stephen Copley Research Award granted by BARS, I was able to spend a week in Weimar (Germany) to consult Friedrich Nietzsche’s Nachlass and work with manuscripts related to Nietzsche’s reading of Lord Byron, P.B. Shelley and Giacomo Leopardi. My doctoral thesis investigates notions of grief, death and posterity in the works of Byron, Shelley and Leopardi as a result of their readings of the Promethean myth from Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound. I avow that the Romantics’ fragmented poetic thoughts between hubris and nemesis anticipate the Nietzschean discourse of modernity as divided and contradictory.

My research residence began with a visit to the Nietzsche Archiv museum, dedicated to Nietzsche’s last days in Villa Silberblick before his death. From the very moment I entered the building, I remembered Nietzsche’s letter from 1884 where he bemoans: ‘Who knows how many generations must pass before people will come who can feel the whole depth of what I have done!’ In retrospect, Nietzsche’s letter seemed to me to echo Virgil’s line from the first book of Georgics, ‘scilicet et tempus veniet’, raising the question of what we can truly know of the time to come.

Nietzsche Archiv Museum

Looking at the portrait of Nietzsche in the museum as a man consumed day by day by an ill-fated disease, it seemed to me that the moribund philosopher silently lamented the paradox of the philosopher, between the deception of ambition derived from knowledge and the unfolding reality of suffering, a dilemma that finds in death an ultimate salvation. The portrait and epistle from 1884 reveal Nietzsche’s uncertainty regarding posterity and his rejoicing in the certainty of death ceasing his anguish. Having left the museum, I contemplated how Nietzsche’s mournful meditations chimed with the scepticism and gloom embedded in the works of Byron, Shelley and Leopardi. We can think, for example, of Shelley’s ‘Ode to the West Wind’ (‘O Wind,  / If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’), Byron’s Don Juan (‘What is the end of fame? ‘tis but to fill / A certain portion of uncertain paper’) and Leopardi’s Sappho’s Last Song (‘after endless/ Hoped-for honours and enjoyed illusions,/ Only Tartarus remains’).

The visit to the Nietzsche Archiv proved itself beneficial for the later consultation of Nietzsche’s Nachlass. From letters to friends (Erwin Rohde and Marie Baumgarten) and family (his mother Franziska Nietzsche and sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche) I could access, though in brief form, Nietzsche’s commentaries on the poetry of Shelley and Leopardi. In a letter to his sister from 1861, Nietzsche requests a copy of Shelley’s poetry edited by Julius Seybt (1844) and in a letter to Erwin Rohde from 1877, Nietzsche praises the English Romantic for the poetic achievement of Prometheus Unbound. Additionally, the letter to Rohde is compelling because Nietzsche comments how he found in Shelley a version of himself, philosophically and poetically. A few years after reading Shelley, Nietzsche received from Marie Baumgarten a copy of Leopardi’s poetry edited by Paul Heyse (1878). The 1878 epistle to Baumgarten about Leopardi attests to Nietzsche’s fascination regarding the Italian Romantic and his delightfully gloomy poetry. However, later in the epistle Nietzsche points out a philosophical detour from Leopardi’s pessimism. Nietzsche illuminates that Leopardi’s poetry is suffused with a profound sense of resignation regarding the gloom of human existence. By contrast, the German philosopher argues that such gloom should be contemplated in order to apprehend human suffering.

The final days of research were spent reading and working on Nietzsche’s unpublished essay Über die dramatischen Dichtungen Byrons (‘On the dramatic Works of Byron’), written at the age of 17. Though Nietzsche argues that Byron is not a dramatist because his works lack of dramatic objectivity, the essay presents a fond enthusiasm for the English poet. Nietzsche writes that Byron’s poetry resembles the rage of a volcanic explosion that falls into a sinister tranquillity, and also contends that his poetry contains the diseases of the world within the purity of his lyricism. Nietzsche offers an interesting example of Byron’s poetics by looking at Manfred. He comments that Manfred encompasses a Byronic superhuman despair and, through the protagonist of the dramatic poem, Byron is capable of performing, theatrically, the stormy hall of his poetic thoughts. Thus, Nietzsche concludes, Byron deconstructs in Manfred a discourse about knowledge, confessions about a disordered world and the notion of divine self-consciousness.

Reading Nietzsche’s unpublished essay on Byron, and his letters on Shelley and Leopardi, allowed me to assess Nietzsche’s familiarity with the three Romantic poets, who, interestingly, seem to be depicted as poetic titans who were forerunners of the Olympian Pantheon of what Nietzsche calls his ‘Gay Science’. I am deeply grateful to BARS for granting me this opportunity and I am sure the research in Weimar will be of great value for the completion of my doctoral thesis.

Francesco Marchionni (Durham University)

Applications Open: Research Associate, ‘Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers’

Research Associate in Reading Practices

 

Placed On:  30th August 2019
Closes:  1st October 2019

 

Please click here for the full job advertisement via jobs.ac.uk

This post will support the exciting Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers. This ambitious Digital Humanities project will use a uniquely rich, but largely unexplored, archive to explore a diverse – yet related – set of research questions on reading, letter-writing and language practices in Georgian England.

This post will explore the commonalities and differences in the operation and the relevance to reading, writing and everyday language of the social networks around Mary Hamilton, and how textual traces of reader circulation, reception and response contained in the Hamilton Papers help us to think differently about eighteenth-century literature.

You should have completed a PhD (or equivalent) in English Literature, or History, or Art History or other allied field focusing on the period 1740-1830, and have a strong grasp of recent debates in at least one of the following fields; gender studies, Bluestocking culture, social networks, digital humanities, public humanities.

You should have excellent analytical and writing skills, experience of working with a variety of archival sources in archives and libraries and strong palaeographic skills.

You should also be well organised and be able to work both independently and as part of a team. A record of publication, of presenting your research to academic audiences, of promoting research via social media and of public engagement or impact are desirable, as it familiarity with Digital Humanities and using software applications for research.

We expect to hold interviews for the post between 8 and 10 October 2019

As an equal opportunities employer we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status.  All appointments will be made on merit.

Please note that we are unable to respond to enquiries, accept CVs or applications from Recruitment Agencies.

Enquiries about the vacancy, shortlisting and interviews:
Name: Dr Sophie Coulombeau or Professor Hannah Barker
Email: sophiecoulombeau@gmail.com or hannah.barker@manchester.ac.uk 
Technical support:
Email: universityofmanchester@helpmeapply.co.uk
Tel: 0161 850 2004
General enquiries:
Email: hrservices@manchester.ac.uk
Tel: 0161 275 4499

This vacancy will close for applications at midnight on the closing date.

Five Questions: James Wood on Anecdotes of Enlightenment

James Wood is a Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century English Literature at the University of East Anglia.  He has degrees from Victoria University of Wellington and Stanford University, and worked as an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College, Dublin before joining UEA.  He has published essays and articles on authors including John Dryden, Samuel Richardson, William Wordsworth, Daniel Defoe and William Molyneux, covering topics including sociability, embodiment, periodical culture and the representation of travel.  His first book, Anecdotes of Enlightenment: Human Nature from Locke to Wordsworth, which we discuss below, was published in July 2019 by the University of Virginia Press.

 

1) How did you first become interested in anecdotes?

When I arrived at graduate school in the US, I didn’t know what I’d be doing as a dissertation project.  But I’d been interested in the New Historicist anecdote from taking a seminar on literary theory back in New Zealand, where we read two chapters from Stephen Greenblatt’s and Catherine Gallagher’s Practicing New Historicism.  I remember being impressed with what the anecdote could do in an essay: how it could enable these counterintuitive leaps between an apparently irrelevant artefact from the past and a canonical work of literature.  At that time, I felt sceptical of Greenblatt’s and Gallagher’s explanation of why the anecdote “worked” in critical essays, which for them has to do with the way the anecdote allows for a defamiliarizing encounter with the past in all its strangeness.  I’m not sure if I would have been able to articulate it at the time, but I’ve come to think that the power of the anecdote has to do with its specific formal qualities: its smallness and apparent self-containedness, its lack of connection or explanation.  The anecdote tends to pose an enigma, a problem to be solved.

So the anecdote was on my mind when I arrived at Stanford to do a PhD.  At that time a lot of graduate students were especially excited about the work of Alex Woloch, who had recently published his book on minor characters in the nineteenth-century novel.  Several graduate students were doing projects that were positioned against a kind of historicism presumed to be hostile or indifferent to form.  I didn’t necessarily see a conflict between the New Historicism and what was starting to be called the “New Formalism.”  But the intellectual climate of Stanford certainly shaped the project.  I suppose all first books are influenced by the universities at which they were written in one way or another.  The way Woloch writes about minor characters as distorted replicas of real human beings, who either explode out of the text in one disruptive moment or repeat the same aberrant behaviour again and again, fed into my thinking about the anecdote as a genre that relies on repetition for its effect as well as singularity.

So my interest in the anecdote came from a fascination with form.  I was—and am—interested in the thought process behind literary criticism and I carried that interest back into the eighteenth century and its miscellaneous writing on philosophy, travel, history, and social behaviour that tends to go under “non-fictional prose”—not that that is a very satisfactory term!  I wanted to explore how anecdotes worked in the great stew of writings on the human that the eighteenth century produced.

 

2) Your book examines ‘the enlightening potential of parafactual stories’.  For you, what are the most important manners in which anecdotes facilitated new thinking in the long eighteenth century?

I think that the awareness that anecdotes were parafactual made them central to the playful and sceptical intellectual style that characterizes much Enlightenment writing on human nature.  Writers tend to show an awareness that the anecdotes they tell might be true but almost certainly are not and in any case they probably distort or exaggerate the truth.  Anecdotes are stories that initially appear to be grounded in actual human life, but the awareness that they are anecdotes also tends to detach the stories away from actual human life into a hypothetical or suppositional realm.  The generic contract between the anecdote teller and tellee makes a certain latitude with the truth acceptable.

This sense of the anecdote being a free-floating story that nevertheless retains a persistent yet fragile connection to actual human life allowed it to become a kind of plaything of the mind.  So the power of the anecdote for me is not that it produces certain empirically grounded knowledge of human nature.  It’s almost exactly the opposite: the anecdote becomes a starting point from which to test out possibilities for conceiving human nature.  One advantage of the anecdote was that it did not presume anything about human nature in advance, so it helped Enlightenment writers think about the human as if from first principles.  They also helped focus thinkers’ attention on delimited aspects of human nature rather than obliging them to develop a theory accounting for everything pertaining to the human beforehand.

The anecdote was also readily “sharable”—here it is hard not to think about the little pictures, videos, and stories that “go viral” on the internet—and I’m especially interested in how key Enlightenment anecdotes like the anecdote of Polly Baker keep getting interpreted and reinterpreted.  Anecdotes moved easily between orality and print, providing focal points for the conversations and debates about the human that animated the Enlightenment.

 

3) Your four chapters study successively a form (the essay), an author (David Hume), an event (the voyage of theEndeavour) and a collection (Lyrical Ballads).  How did you come to select this approach and these particular case studies?

The general structure of the dissertation was in place quite early in the writing.  To be honest, when I was writing the introduction I noticed that the different chapters did have a different principle of organisation so I decided to highlight that—though it wasn’t really an idea to take a different principle of organisation for each chapter from the beginning.  I had a biographical affinity for many of the authors and topics: William Wordsworth from my early childhood just outside the Lake District, the Endeavour voyage from growing up in New Zealand, David Hume for the stories of social awkwardness I enjoyed reading in Ernest C. Mossner’s biography.  I had been fascinated by the essays of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele from taking Denise Gigante’s seminar.  That general plan of organisation worked well in that I discovered plenty of material to keep me going.  I found a photocopy of a manuscript entitled “Banksiana” in the British Library that was full of Banks anecdotes and looking at the “Boswelliana” in the Houghton Library gave me the perfect transition from the David Hume chapter to the Endeavour chapter: an anecdote about a friendly argument between Hume and Alexander Erskine, 3rd Earl of Kellie about whether human nature is one or many in the aftermath of the tales about Tahiti carried back to England by James Cook and company.

 

4) What do you think that Romanticists in particular might gain by paying more attention to the culture of the anecdote during the Enlightenment?

I’m tempted to turn the question around and ask what Enlightenment scholars have to learn from the Romantic culture of the anecdote!  I think it is fair to say that there has been more work done on the anecdote as a literary genre by Romanticists than by scholars whose centre of gravity is the period before 1790: James Chandler, Kevis Goodman, Alan Liu, and David Simpson spring to mind here.  An exception is Helen Deutsch in Loving Dr. Johnson, who I feared for a while had pipped me to the post on the anecdote.  I ended up going in a quite different direction to Deutsch, however.  I became interested in the way the universal abstraction of the human as such gets thought about through the concrete and aberrant particularity of the anecdote.

I’m struck that it is the 1790s that the anecdote begins to be theorized as such, with Isaac D’Israeli’s A Dissertation on Anecdotes (1793) and Novalis’ very brief but extremely suggestive remarks on the anecdote in his unpublished Logological Fragments (c.1798-1800).  I think that one thing that Romanticists could take from these writings on the anecdote is that for both D’Israeli and Novalis the anecdote is not necessarily a historical genre—in the sense that it tells us something about history or historical characters.  D’Israeli and Novalis are, of course, interested in how the anecdote can be introduced into a work of history.  But they also emphasize the usefulness of the anecdote in telling us something about human nature or getting us to think about the human differently.  One of the aims of the book is to try to get people to see the anecdote as one of the key genres through which writers in both the Enlightenment and Romantic periods thought about the human.  I’d be delighted if the book helped stimulate more work on that function of the anecdote in a moment when Enlightenment moral philosophy was beginning to break up into the human sciences.

I hope too that the project might stimulate more work on the Romantic-era essay, which maintains strong links to its eighteenth-century precursors.  I’d also be delighted if the book in some small way helps foster more work on Romantic narrative poetry, especially poetry by women writers.  One of my regrets in the book is that I didn’t really have space to discuss Mary Robinson’s Lyrical Tales.  I’m thinking also of Charlotte Smith’s “On Being Cautioned Against Walking on an Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because It Was Frequented by a Lunatic”—which illustrates, also, how anecdotes are not necessarily about events as such but are often more about circumstances, real or imagined.  (I’m grateful to Jenny Davidson for pointing this out to me.)  Smith never sees the lunatic but only imagines him wandering about on the headland and the poem becomes a little micro-world unto itself.

One of the baneful effects, I think, of Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, is that it has helped contribute to a snootiness about Wordsworth’s anecdotal poetry—it is Wordsworth’s anecdote-poems like “Alice Fell” that Coleridge singles out for censure on the grounds he would have rather had them told to him as prose tales.  So I think that taking anecdotes seriously can also help us revalue texts even in the corpus of writings by the “Big Six.”  I think that anecdotes are actually very complicated things and we should take them seriously—even when they strike us as silly or absurd.  Anecdotes can teach us a lot, I think, about how the category of literature itself was beginning to be defined in the Romantic period.  D’Israeli and Novalis seem to see the anecdote as a genre on the threshold of what we would now call “the literary.”

 

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a project on the relationship between mental labour and manual labour from John Locke to Mary Shelley.  I’m interested in how many writers across this period understand their own mental labours as analogous to manual labour.  The connection is not simply metaphorical though: writers like Samuel Richardson, the son of a joiner and a working printer, were well acquainted with manual work and emphasize the manual aspects of writing itself.  I’ve published an essay (“Richardson’s Hands”) from this new project in Eighteenth-Century Fiction and another essay from the project is coming out in the same journal in Spring 2020 (“Robinson Crusoe and the Earthy Ground.”)  I’m working on Samuel Johnson at the moment and his “beating a track through the alphabet” in working on the Dictionary of the English Language.

The nature of the project is taking me in an eco-critical direction which I hadn’t anticipated at the beginning: I’m struck by how many theorists understand manual labour as a process in which human beings seem to fuse with the natural world: so Locke writes of people mixing their labour with the earth and Marx writes of labour as a form of metabolism with nature.  I’m excited to find out where else the project leads!

I’m also working on an edition with Ema Vyroubalová of Trinity College Dublin of the manuscript writings of the 18th century writer the Reverend Jermyn Pratt, who was a friend of Christopher Smart, who mentioned Jermyn and his sister Harriet in Jubilate Agno.  There is a cache of Pratt’s literary writings that I came across in the Norfolk Record Office, many written in his neat hand in marbled notebooks.  To be honest he is not much of a poet!  But his play set in Norfolk, The Grange, is hilarious, as is his Sterne-influenced essay “The Zgubbs,” about little gremlin-like spirits that mess up best-laid plans.

Call for Papers: British Romanticism and Europe

 British Romanticism and Europe, 5-8 July 2020, Monte Verità conference center, Ascona, Switzerland

 

Organisers: Patrick Vincent, David Duff, and Simon Swift

Keynote Speakers: Christoph Bode, Biancamaria Fontana, and Paul Hamilton

 

 

British Romanticism is part of European Romanticism and British writers drew inspiration from personal and cultural links with mainland Europe as well as the many forms of Continental travel. This international conference will explore the manifold relations between Britain and Europe during the Romantic period, taking advantage of recent work on transnational circulations and exchanges and a growing interest in comparative methodology. The conference will question stereotypes of Great Britain as insular by highlighting the island-nation’s European identity and its participation in a pan-European Romanticism shaped by transnational cultural dialogue and the cross-fertilization of art forms and disciplines.  The aim is to uncover the channels and mechanisms by which Romantic ideas and influences were conveyed across national and disciplinary boundaries and to examine the role of individuals, communities and institutions in this complex transmission process. As well as directing attention to the often-overlooked international dimension of British Romanticism, the conference aims, by bringing together scholars working in Britain and on mainland Europe, to help develop the expanding research network on European Romanticism. Held at Monte Verità, an international conference centre in Ascona in the Swiss canton of Ticino which was formerly the site of a utopian community attracting intellectuals from across Europe, the conference will be divided between plenary lectures, invited panels, and open panel sessions. There will also be a public round-table discussion on British Romanticism and the Italian Lakes, as well as an excursion to Lake Como.

There will be nine invited panel sessions on the following topics: British Romanticism and Italy, British Romanticism and Scandinavia, British Romanticism and France, European Romantic Historicism, late Romanticism, travel and material culture, Romanticism and the environment, Romantic women’s networks, and European Romanticism and / in Britain.

To fill the open panel sessions, we invite proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the conference topic, including:

  • European Romantic networks
  • Romantic mediations and mediating figures
  • Romantic salons, communities, and constellations
  • Romantic disseminations and circulations
  • Romantic theories of ‘Europe’
  • European Romantic politics
  • European Romantic aesthetics
  • Romantic Europhobia and Europhilia
  • Romantic exile and displacement
  • British relations with Northern, Southern, and Eastern Romanticisms
  • British Romanticism and Continental philosophy
  • British Romanticism and Continental science
  • British Romanticism and European travel
  • Britain’s Four Nations and Europe

We encourage junior scholars from mainland Europe to apply, and in order to cut down on carbon emissions, urge attendees to travel by train.

Abstracts of approximately 250 words are due by 1 November 2019. Please send abstracts to patrick.vincent@unine.ch

Conference site (under construction).

Romantic Reviews and Receptions: Editorial Position, Applications Welcome

Romantic Circles Reviews & Receptions seeks a new member of its three-person editorial collective.

The ideal candidate will have broad familiarity with the state of Romantic studies, strong editing and organizational skills, and some social media savvy and will bring creative and innovative energy to the project.

The position is open to scholars worldwide and in any stages of their careers, but we do ask for a three-year commitment.

Please send a cv and very brief (less than one page) letter of interest to RCReviewsandReceptions@gmail.com. Candidates may be asked to  interview via Skype with Orrin Wang, one of the General Editors of Romantic Circles, and with Suzanne Barnett and Ross Wilson, current  Associate Editors of Reviews & Receptions.

Dreaming Romantic Europe at BARS 2019

This post was written by Alice Rhodes (University of York). It forms one of a series of reports about the 16th International BARS conference that took place in July 2019. You can also see pictures from the event if you search #BARS2019 on Twitter. 

This July, European Romanticisms in Association (ERA) the AHRC-funded network, Dreaming Romantic Europe, were delighted to bring Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition (RÊVE) to the 16th International BARS conference in Nottingham. In keeping with the conference theme of ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’, we presented two sessions, convened by Professor Nicola Watson – a panel on Dreaming Romantic Europe: facts and their fantasies and an associated ECR workshop.

Our first session kicked off on Thursday to a packed-out audience. The panel featured a series of micro-talks in which seven senior scholars of Romanticism presented their research in the form of an exhibit for RÊVE. Objects ranged across Europe and varied from texts and domestic items to the buildings which might contain them, with each talk using a single image to spark broader discussions about the materiality (or immateriality) of Romantic objects, their circulation, and the narratives of fact or of fantasy which might be constructed around them. The stellar line up of speakers included: Professor Deidre Shauna Lynch, who introduced us to ‘The Handwritten Title-Page of a Transcription of Keat’s Poems, 1828’; Professor Emma Clery who presented ‘A Circular Note from Herries & Co.’; Professor Anthony Mandal, who explored ‘The offices of the Minerva Press, Leadenhall’; Professor Penny Fielding with ‘Margaret Chalmers and a Tea-cup’; Professor Sonia Hofkosh, who discussed ‘Byron’s Screen’; Professor Diego Saglia, who spoke on ‘William Beckford’s Pavilion’; and Professor Ian Haywood who concluded with ‘A Map of the Republic of Europe’. The panel ended with discussion which drew attention to the ways in which the seven talks spoke to each other in productive and sometimes unexpected ways and considered how the objects in the virtual exhibition might come together as a collection or collections.

BARS delegates continued Dreaming Romantic Europe on Sunday, at our ECR Workshop. The first half of the workshop followed a similar format to Thursday with presentations from Alice Rhodes on ‘A ha’pennyworth of sedition, 1796’; Anne-Claire Michoux on ‘The petition for Robert Lovell Edgeworth to be permitted to stay in Paris, 1803’; Dr Teresa Raçzka-Jeziorska on ’40 verses of Mickiewicz’s “Pan Tadeusz” given to Ambroży Grabowski for “Autographs of Illustrious Men’’’; and Dr Charlotte May on ‘The decanter given to Byron by Samuel Rogers’. The second half of the workshop involved discussion, led by Professor Nicola Watson, on the project of RÊVE more broadly. The workshop generated fruitful and though-provoking conversations on methods of recording visitor engagement with the exhibition; ways of incorporating RÊVE into teaching; and the opportunities and challenges afforded by presenting research as short-form object biographies, exemplified by Watson’s exhibit on ‘William Cowper’s lavender-water bottle’. Dr Anna Mercer and Dr Charlotte May also provided valuable insights on the project from the perspective of their work with heritage organisations.

It was a privilege to be part of such a wonderful conference and huge thanks goes to the BARS 2019 organisers, all the speakers involved in the panels, and everyone who came to listen and offer their enthusiastic thoughts on the project.

We look forward to featuring the exhibits mentioned above on the website in the coming months. Meanwhile the exhibition so far can be viewed here: http://www.euromanticism.org/virtual-exhibition/

Alice Rhodes, University of York

23rd August 2019

Call for Papers: BARS PG/ECR Conference 2020, ‘Romantic Futurities’

Call for Papers:

Romantic Futurities

British Association for Romantic Studies Early Career and Postgraduate Conference

Keats House, London, 12-13 June 2020

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Michael Gamer (University of Pennsylvania)

Dr Emily Rohrbach (University of Manchester)

The BARS Early Career and Postgraduate Conference invites an examination into the pluralistic theme of ‘futurities’ in Romantic-period literature and thought. This examination is inclusive of, but not limited to, the historical future, the anticipatory future, posterity, and the future of the field of Romanticism. The conference will bring together early-career and postgraduate researchers whose work addresses futurity from a wide range of perspectives: from historical depictions of the future, to writers’ concerns with posterity, to the future of the field of Romanticism in regard to rethinking the canon, pedagogical approaches, and digital humanities.

We encourage a wide interpretation of ‘futurities’. Topics of interest may include:

  • Backward Glances (the anterior future, or the historical moment as future)
  • The Utopian and Dystopian
  • Science and Invention
  • Radicalism, Rights, and Revolution
  • Lost Futures (early and unanticipated deaths, unpublished works)
  • Prophecy and Apocalypse
  • Time and Temporality
  • Modernity and Posterity
  • Ecology and the Environment (‘dark ecology’ and the Anthropocene)

Please send 250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers to bars.postgrads@gmail.com by 31 January 2020 including a 100-word biography. We also welcome 250-word abstracts for poster presentations separate from or in addition to papers. Posters cannot be presented in absentia.

Follow us on Twitter: @BARS_PGs and visit our website for more information: romanticfuturities.wordpress.com

We expect to publish a special issue of essays from revised conference papers through Romanticism on the Net

Romantic Futurities is organised by the BARS ECR Representative Paul Stephens (Oxford) and the BARS PG Representatives Amanda Blake Davis (Sheffield) and Colette Davies (Nottingham).

The Conference Organising Committee are looking for PGR students who would like to be Conference Helpers and assist with stewarding the event. If you are a PGR student, please send your expression of interest to bars.postgrads@gmail.com by September 30th 2019. Our conference website has a specific page entitled ‘Volunteers’. A more detailed breakdown of the responsibilities of this role can be found here. If you have any other queries, please do get in touch.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Stephen Basdeo on Robert Southey

Robert Southey’s “Harold; or, The Castle of Morford”—The First Robin Hood Novel

By Stephen Basdeo, Associate Professor at the Richmond American International University (Leeds RIASA).

To find out how to apply for a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, click here

In August, thanks to a generous BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, between 12–15 August, I was able to visit to visit the Bodleian Library in Oxford to consult Robert Southey’s ‘Harold; or, The Castle of Morford’ (Bodleian MS Misc. Eng. e. 21), written in 1791 and purchased by the Bodleian Library from the famous Bristol booksellers W. George’s Sons in 1895.

The manuscript’s unassuming title obscures its significance somewhat, for this is, as far as I can ascertain, the first attempt by any author to write a novel featuring the legendary English outlaw, Robin Hood, as it predates Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (1819) by 28 years.

Along with a colleague, Dr Mark Truesdale, I am transcribing and publishing Southey’s unpublished text with Routledge as part of its ‘Outlaws in Literature, History, and Culture’ series, and publication is expected in March 2020. The purpose of my visit, then, was to perform final checks of our transcription, such as making sure we had not misread words (young Southey’s handwriting was not the neatest), for the Routledge edition will reproduce, as far as possible, exactly what was written by Southey 228 years ago.

Bodleian MS Misc Eng e. 21

The manuscript is bound in a maroon binding dating from probably the mid-nineteenth century, with gold embossed title on the spine reading ‘Juvenilia Romances MSS. Southey’. Binding the manuscript in this way has the obvious advantage of keeping all of the leaves together but this has also meant that some words on the margins have been obscured due to the tightness of the binding and the fact that Southey often used the whole page, writing right up to the edges of the leaves. Another issue is that the binders also trimmed the pages at the top, bottom, and sides, meaning some words from the manuscript are forever lost.

Luckily for us, someone in the Victorian era faithfully copied out Southey’s tale in full (presumably before it was bound), which meant that deficiencies in the original manuscript (Bodleian MS Misc Eng e. 21) could be cross-checked with the copy (Bodleian MS Misc Eng e. 114), which was donated by Baroness Paravicini to the library in 1927 — not every eighteenth-century scholar has the luxury of having two manuscripts to check when undertaking similar projects!

Southey’s unpublished tale will be of benefit, not only to Robin Hood scholars, but to the eighteenth-century and Romanticism community at large. In it we find poetry written by Southey which he never published, with some of the poetry, written as it was by a 16 year old boy, preoccupied with women’s ‘charms’:

And oft beneath the glassy wave
Her dainty limbs would hide
And oft above the waves appeared
Her gently heaving breast
That charm alone exposed to view
The waves obscured the rest
Come, Launcelot the nymph exclaimed
Tis now the time for love
For silent is the midnight hour
And pleasant is the grove
With that she leaped from out the wave
Exposing all her charms
Come, Launcelot again she cried
Come riot in my arms (55v–56r)

Southey wrote his novel before his political ‘radicalisation’ in 1794, after meeting with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Yet in ‘Harold’, we do find that even by the age of 16, Southey had developed a social conscience. For example—and the novel is barely historicised—the Robin Hood considers himself as ‘the overseer of the poor rates’, and delights in levying contributions from the richest in society and redistributing wealth to the humblest class of people (14v). And the forest society of Sherwood is an egalitarian one, where even King Richard, who has ventured back to England in disguise and joined the outlaws, thinks himself neither above nor below any of the other outlaws.

Scholars will not have to wait too long to read Southey’s novel, and I am grateful to the British Association for Romantic Studies for providing me with funding to travel to Oxford and ensure that all of mine and Mark’s transcriptions were correct so we can present scholars with an accurate version of what Southey originally wrote and, if they want to consult Southey’s juvenile tale, not have to make an expensive trip to Oxford themselves.

Dr Stephen Basdeo

20th August 2018

William Blake at BARS

Today on the Blog is a post from Jodie Marley (University of Nottingham). This is the third in a series of reports from the International BARS conference that took place in July 2019. You can also see pictures from the event if you search #BARS2019 on Twitter. She is part of the committee running UoN Romanticism with Amy Wilcockson and Ruby Hawley-Sibbett, at the University of Nottingham. This is a Romanticism reading group who run monthly sessions with invited guest speakers. This Nottingham-based group has members and attendees who from across the UK, and organise a field trip every term to a local Romantic area of interest. For more details – follow @UoNRomanticism or email uonromanticism@nottingham.ac.uk

As I specialise in Blake, it was an absolute delight to experience four Blake panels unfold at BARS 2019. We had one Blake panel per day, which was, to quote Jason Whittaker (University of Lincoln) , ‘utter bliss’.

I presented my paper on day one’s Blake panel on ‘The Fantastical Reception of William Blake’. I spoke on the reception of Blake’s esoteric thought by W. B. Yeats. Jason Whittaker’s paper on Blake discussed Ray Nelson’s Blake’s Progress and Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve, and Luke Walker’s (Roehampton University) paper outlined connections between Blake, Dead Man and mid-twentieth-century psychedelia’s interpretations of Romanticism. This panel’s consideration of the expansion of Romanticism’s influence beyond 1790-1830 was particularly useful in broadening Romantic studies’ traditional scope.

Day two’s Blake panel focused on Blake’ art and illustration. Clémence Ardin’s (University of Kent) paper compared Blake’s illustrations of fallen women and angels in the Book of Enoch with Alfred de Vigny’s Eloa ou la soeur des anges. Sharon Choe’s (University of York) paper centred around a close-reading images on the The Book of Urizen plates to discuss Blake’s representations of darkness, the void, creation and destruction. Elli Karampela’s (University of Sheffield) paper discussed ‘The Ghost of a flea’, Blake’s ‘Visionary Heads’ and how we might conceptualise them as Gothic bodies.

Clémence Ardin, Sharon Choe and Elli Karampela on the ‘Fantasising Blake’ panel

Day three’s Blake panel, ‘William Blake’s Hand’, began with Mark Crosby (Kansas State University) and his paper on Blake’s letters and how they illustrated Blake’s (often difficult) journey through the patronage system. Elizabeth Potter’s (University of York) paper, gave an innovative reassessment of approaching Blake’s marginalia, and helped me reassess and realign my current use of Blake’s marginalia. Both Potter and I quoted the same aphorism of Lavater’s (number 532) in our respective papers, an eerie coincidence. The final paper for this panel was Josephine McQuail’s (Tennessee Tech University) on eroticism in the Vala illustrations, and its reception in Blake criticism over the centuries. As in the second Blake panel, there was an emphasis in McQuail’s paper on the importance, the necessity of considering Blake’s images alongside his works, which I find increasingly important as I form my own research about Blake.

Elizabeth Potter giving her paper

I chaired day four’s Blake panel, ‘Blake’s Visionary Imagination’. Tara Lee’s (University of Oxford) spoke on the intersection of the natural and the mechanical in Blake’s particular form of epic. Joshua Schouten de Jel (Plymouth University) discussed selfhood and psychoanalysis in The Book of Thel and Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Finally, with perhaps one of my favourite papers of the conference, Camille Adnot (Paris-Diderot University) spoke on Blake’s Four Zoas, the influence of medieval mappae mundi on Blake’s illustrations, and the question of mapping dreamscapes in Blake’s works.

Camille Adnot presenting her paper

BARS 2019 was fascinating from start to finish. Although the end of the conference left me feeling deflated that four days of exciting conversations had to come to an end, I am, ultimately, excited for the future of my research area and the connections I’ve made within it.

Jodie Marley, University of Nottingham

16th August 2019