Nineteenth-Century Matters Fellowship 2020-21


Nineteenth-Century Matters is an initiative jointly run by the British Association for Romantic Studies and the British Association for Victorian Studies. Now in its fifth year, it is aimed at postdoctoral researchers who have completed their PhD, but who are not currently employed in a full-time academic post. Nineteenth-Century Matters offers unaffiliated early career researchers a platform from which to organise professionalization workshops and research seminars on a theme related to nineteenth-century studies, and relevant to the host institution’s specialisms. The focus should be on the nineteenth century, rather than on Romanticism or Victorianism.

For the coming academic year, Nineteenth-Century Matters will provide the successful applicant with affiliation in the form of a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Victorian Studies at the University of Exeter. The fellowship will run from 21 September 2020 – 1 September 2021. The fellow will draw upon and contribute towards the research culture of the CVS, which comprises one of the largest existing institutional grouping of nineteenth-century studies scholars in the UK. The CVS has an international reputation for its innovative, interdisciplinary and transnational research and teaching in wide-ranging aspects of nineteenth-century literature, media and culture. It comprehends the Victorian period in geographically and historically extensive terms; its researchers move beyond an island’s literature and culture to its global interdependencies and beyond Victoria’s reign to its antecedents and legacies.

In addition to intellectual exchange and collaboration, the successful fellow will benefit from the rich and extensive variety of sources relating to nineteenth-century literature, culture, and society held by the University of Exeter. The library has extensive primary holdings in nineteenth-century literature, poetry, history, and journals, together with large contextual holdings of more recent critical works. The collection is augmented by several major archival collections, especially the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, Hypatia Collection, and Chris Brooks Collection. The university has also invested heavily in large digital archives, including the British Periodicals Online, Victorian Popular Culture Portal and 19th Century British Library Newspapers.

This fellowship includes a University of Exeter e-mail address, and access to its library and electronic resources for the full academic year. Professor Paul Young, Director of the CVS, will also provide mentorship to the appointed fellow. There is no requirement to live in the Exeter area during this time. The primary purpose of the fellowship is to enable the successful applicant to continue with an affiliation and remain part of the academic community. It is a non-stipendiary post, and the fellow will need to support themselves financially during the academic year. The fellow will, however, be financially supported by BARS and BAVS with the organising of a research and professionalization event on a theme relevant to Exeter’s collections and/or research interests. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this event is expected to be delivered online. It is also expected that the fellow will acknowledge BARS, BAVS, and the University of Exeter in any publications that arise from their position.

Application Process

Applicants should submit a CV with a two-page proposal of their research topic and event, and explain why they would benefit from the fellowship. Applicants who have pre-existing connections to the University of Exeter are welcome to apply, but they should explain what additional benefits they would gain from the fellowship. Applications should be sent to Briony Wickes ( and Paul Stephens (

The deadline for applications is Monday 31 August (23:59 GMT), and the decision announced shortly thereafter.

Five Questions: Tim Fulford and Sharon Ruston on Humphry Davy’s Letters

Professors Tim Fulford (De Montfort University) and Sharon Ruston (Lancaster University) have recently completed the gargantuan task of collecting and annotating all the surviving letters of the great Romantic-period chemist Humphry Davy. These are now available in a four-volume Oxford University Press edition that as well as the letters themselves includes an introduction, comprehensive notes, biographies of salient people and a glossary of chemical terms. Below, Tim discusses the process of producing the edition and provides a glimpse of the treasures it contains.

1) How did you come to realise that you wanted to publish an edition of Humphry Davy’s letters?

Sharon Ruston had written about the Shelleys and chemistry; I had written about Coleridge, Southey, Joseph Banks and Count Rumford. Davy had kept popping up in our research on these projects.  Then Sharon was contacted by the literary executor of June Z. Fullmer, a US historian of chemistry who had begun an edition of Davy’s correspondence but had been prevented by illness from completing it.  He made over the papers to Sharon and we decided that completing the project was viable.  We did not know then that we would find hundreds of manuscript letters unknown to Fullmer, more than doubling the size of the task.

2) How did you go about locating the correspondence the edition includes?

Locating correspondence is obviously crucial.  The bread-and-butter way to find MS letters is by searching the catalogues of archives and by emailing archives whose catalogues are not online. We were able to win grants for research assistance to get help with this.  Our superb Research Associate, Andrew Lacey, handled a large correspondence with archives all over Europe and America. Then there is the way of expert advice, which sometimes leads to unexpected contacts: we had help from Frank A. J. L. James, editor of Michael Faraday’s Correspondence.  He pointed us to several private collectors, including Herb Obodda, a veteran mineral collector and trader. I found Obodda’s address via an old magazine that featured a photo of him taken during a collecting expedition on the Pakistan border in the 1970s — in Afghan dress, toting an AK47, and accompanied by three Mujahideen.  Enquiring of the magazine editors, it became clear that Obodda was a legendary figure.  They gave me several email addresses for him — but I got no reply for nearly a year, when out of the blue, he sent scans of the letters he owned, having emerged from a stay in hospital.

3) What were the most challenging aspects of constructing the editorial apparatus you designed to explain and contextualise the letters?

Creating a large edition involves controlling huge masses of information.  Knowing that most researchers consult correspondence editions in search of information, rather than reading them cover to cover, we wanted the apparatus to allow readers to find things easily but without our having to repeat ourselves.  How often should our footnoting explain particular experiments, or detail obscure people, when they were mentioned in different letters months or years apart?  Simply doing so once and then using the index to cross-reference further mentions would be cumbersome for readers, forcing them to move back and forth across the volumes.  Repeating the same information many times risked redundancy, but at least offered readers instant same-page explanations.  In the end, we decided to err on the side of repetition, agreeing that it was better to risk having too much rather than too little explanation. To reduce redundancy, we put into small capitals the names of people for whom we had created entries in an alphabetically-organised list of mini-biographies. By this means, readers can see at a glance when further information on a person is available.

4) Are there particular letters you discovered as part of the project that you think deserve especial attention, either for the important new light they shed or for their intrinsic interest as compositions?

Davy’s letters are fascinating for many things, so it’s hard to answer this briefly other than to say, order the edition for your library and read it!  A letter that will especially interest students of Romanticism however is one of October 1800 in which Davy describes a visit to Tintern Abbey, evidently made in the wake of his reading Wordsworth’s poem (he was seeing the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads through the press at the time).  In it, he looks to investigate whether Wordsworth’s description of being laid asleep in body and becoming a living soul has a physiological and chemical cause, rather than being simply metaphorical. He also announces his new experiments on matter with the Voltaic pile.  Here’s a part-transcript with our annotations:

28. Humphry Davy to Davies Giddy, 20 October [1800] Pneumatic Instn; Hotwells. Octr 20.

Be assured my respected friend that your last letter[1] though short was highly gratifying to me; it could not indeed have communicated to me more pleasing intelligence than that of the perfect restoration of your health.—At the moment it was brought to me I was about to depart with King[2] & Danvers[3] on an excursion to the banks of the Wye. Our design was to see Tintern Abbey by moonlight; and it was perfectly accom­plished.[4] After viewing for three hours all the varieties of light & shade which a bright full moon & a blue sky could exibit in this magnificent ruin;[5] and wandering for three days among the colored woods & rocks sur­rounding the river between Monmouth & Chepstow we arrived on the fourth day at Bristol having undergone (to balance against the pleasures of the tour) the fatigues of a stormy voyage down the Wye, across the mouth of the Severn & up the Avon.— On analysing after our return the air collected from Monmouth, from the woods on the banks of the Wye, & 〈from〉 the mouth of the Severn, there was no perceptible difference. They were all of similar composition to the air in the middle of Bristol. ie they contained about 22 pr cent oxy­gene—The air from the bladders of some sea weed apparently just cast on shore at the old passage likewise gave 22.—Comparing the expts made by Cavendish nearly 20 years ago at London & Kensinton[6] & the expts of Berthollet at Paris & [xxxx] in Egypt[7] with those I have made within the last month at different temperatures, in different weather & with dif­ferent winds, I am almost convinced that the whole of the lower stratum of the atmosphere is of uniform composition—The air that I took from the mouth of the Severn must have passed over much of the atlantic as the wind had blown nearly due west for more than a week before.[8]—

No test can be more fallacious & imperfect than Nitrous gas[9] on account of the different composition of the Nitrous acid formed in the different manipulations of eudiometrical expts[10] The high overating of the oxygene of the atmosphere at 27 & 28 Prcent is owing to the almost general use of the nitrous test.—The Eudiometer[11] that I have lately used is a very sim­ple & commodious one—It consists of a tube about 5 inches long contain­ing 200 grains of water—The space between the 140 & 180 grains is graduated.—This tube is emptied of water in an atmosphere when you wish to know its composition & plunged into a solution of muriate or sulphate of iron[12] impregnated with Nitrous gas—The oxygene is absorbed in a few minutes & the residuum gives (without correction) the Nitrogene.[13]— In pursuing expts on galvanism during the last two months I have met with unexpected & unhoped for success. Some of the new facts on this subject promise to become instruments capable of destroying the mysteri­ous veil which Nature has thrown over the operations & properties of etherial fluids— Galvanism I have found by numerous expts is a process purely chemical & it depends wholly on the oxydation of metallic surfaces having different degrees of electric conducting power.[14]—[. . .] But I must stop without being able to expatiate on the connection which now is obvious between galvanism & some of phaenomena of organic motions. I never consider this subject without having forcibly impressed on my imagination your observations on the science of etherial fluids & I cannot help flattering myself that this age will see your predictions accom­plished.[15 [18 in original]]— I remain with sincere respect & affection yours H. Davy 

  1. Not traced.
  2. John King [Nicholas Johann Koenig] (1766–1846), a Bristol­ based surgeon who succeeded Davy in his role at the Medical Pneumatic Institution in 1801.
  3. Charles Danvers (c.1764–1814), a Bristol wine merchant, trading in partnership under the name Danvers and White.
  4. On this expedition to see Tintern at night Davy was following, with two of Southey’s friends, in the footsteps of a picturesque tour made by Southey, Coleridge, and Joseph Cottle in 1795. Davy was also in 1800 preparing for the press the second edition of Lyrical Ballads, a collection in which the most prominent poem was Wordsworth’s ‘Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour’.
  5. Full moon fell on 2 October 1800, suggesting the likely date of the expedition. Davy wrote a reverie partly based on this experience in his notebook; it is quoted in Memoirs, i, pp. 117–19.
  6. Henry Cavendish (1731–1810) published in 1783 and 1784 descriptions of experi­ments he had made to measure the composition of the atmosphere (eudiometry): ‘An Account of a New Eudiometer’, PTRS [Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society], lxxiii (1783), 106, and ‘Experiments on Air’, PTRS, lxxiv (1784), 119–53.
  7. Berthollet participated in Napoleon’s expedition in 1798–1800 to Egypt, where he conducted a series of eudiometric observations on the composition of the atmosphere. These and similar experiments made in Paris were reported in the Annales de chimie, xxxiv (1800), 73, and translated in A Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the Arts, iv (April 1800– March 1801), 214–19. Berthollet argued that the proportions of gases composing the air varied little in different places. It seems Davy, having just read Berthollet’s paper, was repeat­ing his experiments while on the Wye. On eudiometry, see Simon Schaffer, ‘Measuring Virtue: Eudiometry, Enlightenment, and Pneumatic Science’, in The Medical Enlightenment of the Eighteenth Century, eds Andrew Cunningham and Roger French (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 281–318.
  8. Davy re­used this discussion of Cavendish and the Atlantic­-borne air in ‘An Account of a New Eudiometer’, Journal of the Royal Institution, i (1802), 45–8 (p. 48) (CWHD [Collected Works of Sir Humphry Davy], ii, pp. 228–32 (p. 231)).
  9. More commonly known as nitrous oxide (N2O).
  10. As part of his work on nitrous oxide, Davy devised experiments which showed that nitrous gas is entirely dissolved in green iron sulphate, but when air is also present the nitrous gas becomes nitrous acid. (He published these in Researches, pp. 152–79 (CWHD, iii, pp. 92–108)). His eudiometry benefitted from these experiments in that the amount of nitrous gas generated in a eudiometric test was more accurately estimated when dissolved in Davy’s way, in green iron sulphate, than when shaken in air over water, the typical practice.
  11. This then-­new instrument, invented by Marsilio Landriani (1751–1815) and developed by Volta, was made famous by Horace ­Bénédict de Saussure (1740–99) who in 1788 used one to measure the composition of the air on an Alpine col. In 1802, Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) carried one almost to the top of Mount Chimborazo in the Andes to measure the composition of the air at still more elevated heights.
  12. Now known as ferric chloride (FeCl3); ferric sulphate (Fe2(SO4)3).
  13. Davy published the results of his experiments on the composition of air at different locations in ‘An Account of a New Eudiometer’, Journal of the Royal Institution, i (1802), 45–8 (CWHD, ii, pp. 228–32).
  14. When the pile was first constructed, it was not clear whether the electricity it produced was the same as the static electricity typically collected in Leyden jars, or whether it gener­ated what Galvani claimed was the different electricity found in animals.Volta argued that the pile worked like an electrifying animal—the torpedo fish—but produced the same kind of electricity as static electricity (‘common electricity’). The pile showed that animal electricity was not necessarily different in kind from common electricity. Having repeated the experiments of Volta, Davy here differs from him concerning the mode of its action: rather than pursue the analogy to the torpedo, he offers a chemical explanation, as William Nicholson had already done, for its generation of electric current. On Davy’s early work on the pile, see G. Pancaldi, ‘On Hybrid Objects and Their Trajectories: Beddoes, Davy and the Battery’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, lxiii (2009), 247–62.
  15. While still a youth in Penzance, Davy, encouraged in scientific pursuits by Giddy, had devised an experiment intended to disprove the Lavoisierian theory that heat was an etherial fluid—caloric. His publication ‘An Essay on Heat, Light, and the Combinations of Light’ (Contributions to Physical and Medical Knowledge, pp. 5–147) (CWHD, ii, pp. 3–86) was based, in part, on a refined version of the experiment, but was criticized by Giddy for specu­lating too boldly.

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

Sharon is leading a project to transcribe and put online Davy’s notebooks.  She also has coming out, with the Bodleian Library Press, The Science of Life and Death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (2021).  I am editing, with Dahlia Porter, the letters of Davy’s mentor Thomas Beddoes, for Cambridge University Press.  I have also edited a special issue of European Romantic Review on Robert Bloomfield and John Clare, out later in 2021. My scholarly edition of Robert Southey’s Life of Nelson will be published by Routledge in 2021; I will follow that with an edition of his Life of Wesley in 2022.

Five Questions: Kate Rigby on Reclaiming Romanticism

Kate Rigby is Professor of Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University, where she is the the founding Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities. Her work as a scholar and organiser has played a pioneering role in developing the international, interdisciplinary field of Environmental Humanities. Her own work focuses particularly on the Romantic period and its ongoing legacies, and she has published extensively on German and British philosophies of nature; the poetics of place; ecophilosophy and ecotheology; ecological feminist, new materialist and postcolonial thought; and multispecies studies and disaster studies. Her most recent monograph, Reclaiming Romanticism: Towards an Ecopoetics of Decolonisation, which we discuss below, was published by Bloomsbury in May 2020.

1) How did you first become interested in the ecological potential of Romantic writing?

I think I would have to say that the seeds for this interest were sown a very long time ago: probably when I was 15, an Aussie kid living south of Oxford (where my father was on sabbatical), and somebody lent me a bike right around the time my mother gave me a little hardback copy of The Selected Poems of William Wordsworth in the World’s Classics Series. Reading Wordsworth and riding around the Cotswolds got interlocked, and I found myself becoming enraptured by both. I recalled this many years later when I heard Geoffrey Hartman say that he fell in love simultaneously and inextricably with Wordsworth’s verse and the English countryside after his family found refuge in Britain from Nazi Germany. My teenage sojourn in Oxfordshire was under far happier circumstances, but I was beginning to share the growing environmental concerns of the 1970s, so my appreciation of what still looked like England’s ‘green and pleasant’ land, along with Wordsworth’s Lake District, was already tinged with an awareness of precarity.

My first academic encounter with Romanticism was in German Studies at the University of Melbourne, where I wrote an MA thesis on Heinrich von Kleist. By the time I embarked on my doctorate in German and Comparative Literature at Monash University in the late 1980s, I was passionately involved with ecological thought and activism, and found in Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s critique of the ‘dialectic of enlightenment’ (one that is itself profoundly indebted to Romanticism) – reworked though a feminist and postcolonial lens –  an apt theoretical framework for my ecofeminist reading of tragedy and enlightenment in German drama of the Goethezeit. What I still did not know at the time I published my dissertation Transgressions of the Feminine: Tragedy, Enlightenment and the Figure of Woman in Classical German Drama in 1996 was that others too were avidly at work bringing an ecological perspective to bear in literary studies, and that this initiative had even been given a name: ecocriticism! I had already begun work on my next Romanticism project when I enthusiastically attended my first ecocritical conference in 1998 (at Bath Spa, as it happens, where I am now Professor of Environmental Humanities). Needless to say, my next monograph, Topographies of the Sacred: The Poetics of Place in European Romanticism (2004) which branches out to British as well as German Romanticism, was written in close conversation with other ecocritical Romanticists, and appeared in the University Press of Virginia’s Under the Sign of Nature series (of which I am now a co-editor).

2) How did you come to develop the decolonial lens through which your book re-evaluates Romanticism?

Like all too many white Australians of my age, I really only began to confront the carnage of colonisation on the continent that I call home as an adult. Growing up in the nation’s capital, I didn’t even know that the city’s name had been stolen, along with their land, from the First Nations for whom this area had long been a meeting place (Ngambri was transliterated into ‘Camberry’ and appropriated as the name for one of the earliest pastoral stations on what the invaders dubbed the Limestone Plains). My awakening was facilitated by my studies, in that Melbourne University was a hotbed of theory in the 1980s, including postcolonial variants: Dipesh Chakrabarty was an older contemporary of mine there, and one of our most memorable visiting lecturers was Gayatri Spivak, who delivered an early version of ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ to an intrigued audience.

In Transgressions of the Feminine, as well as in my subsequent co-authored book on German feminist theory, Out of the Shadows (1996), I engaged most closely with work that brings postcolonial theory into conversation with critical ecofeminism (notably that of Val Plumwood, Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva). However, it was only towards the end of writing Topographies of the Sacred that I realised that there was an unsettling undercurrent to my interest is questions of place and displacement in European Romanticism: namely the colonial dispossession, coupled with ecological degradation, of which I was myself a beneficiary in Australia. I therefore embarked on researching a decolonial deep history of the Canberra region, nourished and encouraged by my conversations with the historians, philosophers, geographers and ethnographers of the Australian Working Group for the Ecological Humanities (formed the late 1990s, as recounted in my article ‘Weaving the Environmental Humanities: Australian strands, configurations, and provocations’ in Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, 23.1). This research ended up morphing into a consideration of how unprepared settler Australians were for the catastrophic environmental and climatic changes, to which their economy and lifestyle was a major contributor, and which were beginning to show up in the increasing frequency and intensity of those extreme weather events that they were still misleadingly calling ‘natural disasters’. The resultant monograph, Dancing with Disaster: Environmental Histories, Narratives and Ethics for Perilous Times (2015) weds my longstanding ecocritical interests in Romanticism with my more recent engagement with Australian history, literature and ‘ethics for decolonisation’ (Deborah Bird Rose, Reports from a Wild Country, 2004). Beginning with a short story by Kleist that responds in his characteristically quizzical way to the debates that erupted in the wake of the Lisbon Earthquake, this book concludes with Waanyi author Alexis Wright’s novel Carpentaria and its subversion of the modern Western category of ‘natural disaster’ through a poetics of decolonisation. Reclaiming Romanticism brings this perspective to bear on Romantic and post-Romantics ecopoetics, but with a wider historical reach, extending to North America as well as Australia, on the track of varied European Romantic legacies and their transformations.

3) Most of your chapters pair canonical Romantic authors with more contemporary poets, often writers with backgrounds informed by capitalist appropriation of land, lives and resources (so William Wordsworth is paired with Tim Lilburn; Percy Shelley with Kevin Hart; John Clare with Audre Lorde and Natasha Trethewey; and William Blake with Judith Wright and Jordie Albiston).  How did you decide to construct chapters around such pairings, and how did you select the particular combinations?

I have always been interested in considering Romanticism not only as a historical period, but also as a continuing strand in Western culture. In Topographies of the Sacred, I highlight Romanticism’s ambivalent historical legacies. In my new book, though, I felt called to push back against what I consider to be reductive critiques of Romanticism, which often fail to adequately acknowledge how European Romanticism (itself an heterogeneous phenomenon) differs from North American and other settler colonial Romanticisms, such as Australian. What I am doing here, then, is seeking to ‘reclaim’ a number of ecopoetic arts of resistance to the ‘logic of colonisation’ (as framed by Val Plumwood) in specific works of English Romantic verse, and to show how variants of these Romantic ecopoetics might be traced in modern and contemporary poetry from North America and Australia.

I should stress that the connections I establish are not based on any arguments concerning ‘influence’ or ‘reception’ but arise from within my own hermeneutic horizon. They are intended to demonstrate how the ‘contemplative’, ‘affective’, ‘creaturely’ and ‘prophetic’ poetics inaugurated within European Romanticism continue to resonate in ecopolitically salient ways in North American and Australian literature. At the same time, as I argue in the final chapter, there are ways in which Romantic ecopoetics itself demands to be decolonised. Here, my attention turns to what John Kinsella terms the ‘pastoral imposition’ (both on the land and in the mind) in Australian history and literature, and I conclude with a contemporary pairing of Anne Elvey and Jeanine Leane in order to consider what a decolonial ecopoetics might look like from either side of the Indigenous/non-Indigenous divide, and what prospects there might be for a meeting (if not, necessarily, a merger).

4) Why do you think Romanticism can provide particularly powerful affordances for grappling with our present, over and above other constellations of thoughts, artists and artworks?

As indicated above, Romanticism is a mixed bag: not all of it is helpful by any means, and other constellations of thought, artists and artworks might also provide affordances for grappling with current challenges. However, the European Romantics were the first to bear witness to that process of fossil-fuelled industrialisation that has since delivered the world into the problematically named ‘Anthropocene’, and many did so with extraordinary insight into its underpinnings and implications, along with creative proposals for how the instrumental and anthroparchal rationality of expansionist industrial-capitalist modernity might be countered. In particular, I want to revalue the ethos of multispecies conviviality and sympoiesis (a term coined by Friedrich Schlegel) that I discern in European Romanticism, over and against the wilderness ethic, premised on nature-culture dualism and complicit with the suppression of Indigenous modes of dwelling, which later came to the fore in North America.  As I argue, however, if this promise is to be made good, it needs to be translated into ecopolitical praxis. For that reason, each chapter also incorporates examples of contemporary ecopoetics ‘beyond the page.’

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

Next year, I want to pick up on one of the threads in Reclaiming Romanticism for a book edited by Clare Colebrook on ‘Romanticism at the End of the World’. The chapter will explore further the lineaments of what I call (with a nod to Anna Seward’s ‘Colebrook Dale’) the ‘Ploutocene’, in relation to loss of the commons, as seen by John Clare in Helpston, and Jeanine Leane on the lands of her Wiradjuri forbears in New South Wales. My main project at present, though, departs from Romanticism to engage more closely with those Christian texts and traditions that also appear periodically in Reclaiming Romanticism. Specifically, I am researching and revisioning a neglected genre of Christian literature, the ‘Hexameron’, that is, meditations on the biblical six days of creation, a genre inaugurated by the exuberantly critter-loving, Earth-honouring Basil of Caesarea in the 4th century. I am planning to write my own (post-Darwinian, post-dogmatic) hexameron in the horizon of anthropogenic mass extinction and ecological unravelling: an Hexameron for the Ploutocene, pitched towards the (re)constitution of practices of multispecies care, conviviality and co-creativity, offering pathways through (and potentially beyond) the current ecocidal era of de-creation.

Publication announcement: The Cambridge History of the Gothic

The editors are delighted to announce that the following volumes are now available in print, and will be available as in electronic form from the 6th August, 2020:

Volume I, Gothic in the Long Eighteenth Century eds. Angela Wright and Dale Townshend

Volume II, Gothic in the Nineteenth Century, eds. Dale Townshend and Angela Wright

Click here for more details

‘How to write the history of a cultural mode that, for all its abiding fascination with the past, has challenged and complicated received notions of history from the very start? The Cambridge History of the Gothic rises to this challenge, charting the history of the Gothic even as it reflects continuously upon the mode’s tendency to question, subvert and render incomplete all linear historical narratives. Resolutely interdisciplinary in focus, the series extends its critical focus well beyond literature and film to discussions of Gothic historiography, politics, art, architectre and counterculture. Attentive to the ways in which history has been refracted through a Gothic lens, these volumes are as keen to chart the inscription of Gothic in some of the formative events of Western history as they are to provide a history of the Gothic mode itself. Written by an international cast of contributors, the chapters bring fresh perspectives to established Gothic themes while also drawing attention to new critical concerns.’

BSECS Postgraduate and Early-Career Seminar Series

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the annual BSECS Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher conference cannot go ahead as planned. However, we are still keen to provide a platform for postgraduates and early career researchers in eighteenth-century studies to get together and present their research. Therefore, we proudly present this new monthly digital seminar series:

Last Thursday of each month, 3-4PM. Currently the sessions are running until November, with a view to extend with a further CFP if successful.

Sessions take place via Zoom and are aimed specifically at postgraduate and early career researchers. Registration details will be released here

For any queries, please contact the postgraduate representatives via


30 July

Matthew Lee, University of Aberdeen: Resistance, rebellion and the amelioration of slavery in Hector MacNeill’s Memoirs of the Life and Travels of the Late Charles Macpherson Esq.

 Tom Little, University of York: “quitting the public road”: Affective Atmospheres in John Thelwall’s The Peripatetic (1793)

27 August

Anthony Delaney, Newcastle University: Cotqueans: Queer Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century England

Hannah Weaver, University of Edinburgh: Illicit Space and Gender: Reassessing Urban Boundaries in Late Eighteenth-Century Edinburgh

24 September

Rebekah Andrew, University of Birmingham: ‘O that my Grief were Thoroughly Weighed’: Clarissa’s ‘Meditations’ and Jeremy Taylor’s Holy Living

Jeanette Holt, Kingston University: Marriage – Love or Money? The motives for marriage in Kingston upon Thames 1743 to 1763

29 October, 4-5PM (please note different time)

Ioannes P. Chountis, University of Athens: Party Politics and the Rhetoric of Opposition in Lord Byron’s Poetry and Speeches

Emily Seitz, University of Birmingham: Perfecting the Poet of Nature: Pope’s Cultivation of Shakespeare

26 November

Tilman Schreiber, Friedrich Schiller University: Classical avant-garde. Gavin Hamilton and the aesthetics of dilettantism

Keiko Kawano, Kobe University: Oppositions in the viewpoints of Dubos and Cahusac regarding ancient dance

Conference Report: North West Long Nineteenth Century Seminar, 15 July 2020

Below is a report from the North West Long Nineteenth Century Seminar, 15 July 2020 by Rob Sutton (PhD candidate, Manchester Metropolitan University).

You can read about how to apply for BARS Conference and Seminar Support here.

July’s seminar was hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University and was co-organised by Dr Emma Liggins and Dr Sonja Lawrenson, both of Manchester Metropolitan University. Due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the seminar was run virtually, via the Zoom networking app. Despite the organisers’ and speakers’ complete reliance upon technology and internet connections, the afternoon progressed pleasantly, and without any major hitches. The first paper, “Mapping Economic Mobility through Work in the Fictions of Daniel Defoe and Maria Edgeworth”, was presented by Dr Heather Zuber (City University of New York). This talk comprised an intriguing analysis of the possible correlation between geographical movement and economic advancement in the fictional works of Daniel Defoe and Maria Edgeworth. In order to explicate her theory, Dr Zuber incorporated GIS (Geographic Information System) to map and mark the distance travelled by various protagonists in these fictional works, demonstrating how those who travelled the furthest also tended to accrue the most wealth. 

The prospect of tracing the movement of these literary characters prompted the question of how we might map fictional spaces and places. Dr Zuber suggested that in the case of Defoe, the writer was able to take advantage of the fact that his work was situated in real life locations (such as central Africa) that were relatively unfamiliar to his reader. In contrast, Edgeworth was prone to altering reality by imposing fictional attributes upon familiar places within the British Isles. Aside from observations on the main subject matter, Dr Zuber’s paper drew questions from the audience about the GIS software used to compile data.

The second paper of the afternoon, “A Wolf in Wife’s Clothing: Wildness and the Reclamation of Self in the Wolf Stories of Frederick Maryat and George Macdonald”, was presented by Nicole Dittmer, a PhD candidate at Manchester Metropolitan University. The focus of Dittmer’s work is an analysis of how the behaviour of nineteenth-century women was coerced and manipulated to the extent that a fracture occurred between womanhood and Nature. Her paper scrutinised the behaviour of women characters in Gothic horror fiction (specifically the wolf stories of Frederick Maryat and George Macdonald). Parallels were drawn between the perceived predatory women who failed to check their “natural” tendencies, and the predatory nature of the wolf. As Dittmer argued, this consideration extends to the hybrid figure of the werewolf as an analogy for the state of Victorian women, torn as they were between the need to conform to society and the urge to surrender to their base, natural desires. Questions and points raised at the end of the paper included references to animal hybrid tales from cultures beyond Britain, and how these tended to reflect the relationship between women and nature in a more positive light. 

After a short break (minus the traditional tea-and-biscuit-fuelled natter!) the final paper of the afternoon was presented by Dr Clare Clarke (Trinity College Dublin). Entitled “A Shrine of Pilgrimage: Dark Tourism in late-Victorian crime writing, newspapers, and ripper reportage”, Clare’s paper drew attention to the phenomenon of “Dark Tourism” that evolved in England during the late nineteenth century, around the time of the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. Dr Clarke demonstrated how various popular, working-class media publications such as The Star sought to sensationalise death and murder with graphic accounts, while, in contrast, conservative publications such as The Times tended to refrain from lurid and voyeuristic imagery altogether. The media sensationalism fuelled an emerging and rather morbid fascination with death, according to which people demanded a closer proximity to the calamity. Dr Clarke intriguingly shown how residents and neighbours located next to certain murder sites in London began charging an admittance fee to members of the public who wished to observe the scene of the crime first-hand.  

One of the points raised by the audience at the end of the paper interestingly tied in with the first paper of the seminar, suggesting the usefulness of mapping London in order to ascertain if the majority of murders took place in the impoverished, urban East End. Dr Clarke concurred, imparting that the Sherlock Holmes stories were set almost exclusively in the West End of the city. The rationale behind Conan Doyle’s setting can thus be linked to the real events in London, as it would have been a miscalculation to have so great a detective as Holmes operating in the East End, where so many crimes were going unsolved in real life. 

Despite there being no overall theme for the seminar, the papers nonetheless appeared to overlap, converge with, and complement one another. Graphic depictions of torn bodies, of course, are prevalent in both crime fiction and Gothic Horror.  Edgar Allan Poe’s invention of the Detective genre was suggested as clear evidence of the connection between Crime fiction and Horror fiction. In turn, the mapping of crime and murder contrasts rather well with the mapping of economic advancement. Brought together in this way, geography, gender and the Gothic were seminar themes that yielded interesting critical results, and pleasingly drew together papers that, at first glance, had little in common with one another. 

– Rob Sutton

CFP – Ghosts and the Undead

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Thursday to Saturday, 22-24 April 2021

Lectures, Papers and Workshops hosted by the Chaplaincy and a Concert in Bishop Grosseteste University Chapel, Lincoln.

Closing date for submission of abstracts: 30 September 2020.

Keynote: TBC

Death and Dying, once deemed to have almost disappeared from everyday life (Ariès 1974), have now become an almost fashionable taboo. True, the dying are hidden away in hospitals or hospices, but talking about ‘it’ has become a matter of public discussion through the Death Café movement, organisations such as Dying Matters as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Death and dying has become a global and is visible as well as well-documented phenomenon on account of the various statistics and graphs. Whilst conversations about death and dying are important, because they help us to prepare and live with loss, this conference attempts to reunite ‘the dead’ with ‘the living’ in an attempt to reintroduce privacy. This event, open to all irrespective of religious affiliation and to those who have none, will bring together members of the public, practitioners, creative artists and scholars working across the arts, humanities, sciences and theology, whose work, research and working/creative practices relate to death and dying.

Our intention is to explore how approaches to mortality and the afterlife have changed since the early modern period – as reflected in the literature, art, history and sciences, as well as in funeral and mourning practices and rituals. This year (the project academic and creative responses to death and dying at BGU is in its fifth year) the conference is hosted by BGU Chaplaincy. Our focus is on ghosts and the undead and we would like to approach these phenomena through the lens of Hope and in all its different incarnations.

The dead have an absent presence. When William Blake was in his deathbed in 1827, he told his wife Catherine that “‘they would not be parted; he would always be about her to take care of her.’” (Gilchrist ([1907] 1998, 381). William Blake was deeply interested in the relationship between life and death. For him, they weren’t opposites; they were connected as two states of being. Blake is known to have talked to his ‘dead’, younger brother Robert all his life. He never forgot the dead. In Psychotherapy as well as Literature ghosts literalize the return of the repressed (Freud) and the Undead haunt the living through the experience of grief and loss. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for example, King Hamlet cannot rest because he needs to be revenged. Young Hamlet struggles because he is uncertain about what to do, and it all ends very badly due to his continual indecision. Like ghosts, secrets about the death lord the power of how the living honour their dead by trying to preserve their reputations as well as legacies. Symptomatic of transgenerational trauma is not so much repetition as a sign of uncertainty, but repetition on account of a broken narrative. Suicide or sudden deaths, of course, are the hardest interruptions to accept. Silence fills the space a story should fill. Death and dying are normally tethered to feelings of relief, ending, conclusion as well as the hope and expectation of life after death, not so much in terms of a deferred future but rather conceived as immortality – continuation or even a transposition to the state of transhumanism. How can we still feel safe?

Our aim is to engage with a difficult topic academically as well as creatively and through conversation. We do not offer any solutions or remedies.

Our intention is to explore how experiences of death and dying have changed since the early modern period – as reflected in the literature, art, history and sciences, as well as in funeral and mourning practices and rituals.

There will be a registration fee (£25) for participants but all students will attend for free. We can help with finding accommodation and will provide basic catering (tea and coffee during the breaks). For all enquiries and registration, please email

Proposals for 20-minute talks and workshops (up to 3 hours) are invited from participants working in any discipline, and at all career stages or professions. All sessions are intended as starting points for interdisciplinary exchange and discussion, which is why the academic components need to be short and informal. Our audience is fellow academics, practitioners, and artists as well as students and the general public.

Potential topics should include but are not limited to the following:

  • Theological Reflections on Death, Dying and Funeral Practices
  • Literature written for Children and Young Adults
  • Creative Writing
  • Death, Art and the Gothic
  • Death and Spirituality
  • Therapeutic and religious approaches to working with Children and Young Adults
  • Neuro-Diversity / Disability Studies and Grief
  • Wellbeing and Grief
  • Grief in School or University Education
  • Representations of death and dying in the Media and Popular Culture

The event will include a Concert (tbc), a visit to the Cathedral (display in Wren Library and medieval tombs floor tour) BGU Library (displays of Books) as well as Conversation and Death and a Quiet Room for reflection.

If you would like to participate, please submit a short bio (50 words) and a brief (max. 200 word) abstract by 30 September 20209 to and, indicating what your academic or creative approach to death, dying, loss and grief.  

The question of what is appropriate to tell children can be part of the approach or be discussed afterwards. All proposals will be anonymously peer-reviewed.

In Memoriam: Professor Vincent Newey (1943–2020)

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It is with deep sadness that we share the news that Vincent Newey, our colleague, friend and a co-founder of the British Association for Romantic Studies has passed away. Born and raised in the West Midlands town of Dudley, at the heart of what is still known as the Black Country, Professor Vincent Newey attended Dudley Grammar School before going up to New College, Oxford, to study English in 1962. Graduating with a First-Class Honours degree in English Language and Literature in 1965, he accepted a Junior Lectureship at Magdalen College, Oxford, and won a postgraduate scholarship at New College, before taking the post of Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Liverpool in 1967. Vince remained at Liverpool for 22 years, being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1982, and serving as Head of Department from 1985 to 1989. It was at Liverpool that he completed his BLitt ‘A Critical Examination of the Poetry of William Cowper’ (Oxon, 1971) and, later, his PhD, ‘A Critical Examination of the Literature of Selfhood and Subjective Experience’ (1985), based on the work he had by then published. An effective administrator as well as highly respected teacher and scholar, in 1989 Vince was appointed Professor of English at the University of Leicester, leading the Department as Head from 1991 to 2000.

At Leicester Vince garnered the respect of colleagues across the University. During his time as Head of English Vince oversaw a sizeable expansion of the Department and took a leading role in two successful Research Assessment Exercises (1992 and 1996). A keen advocate for the study of English, Vince threw himself into a range of professional activities: he was instrumental in the formation of BARS and worked tirelessly as a Fellow of the English Association. Despite his considerable administrative duties Vince continued to teach undergraduates and postgraduates, many of whom would be inspired to pursue careers of their own as teachers of English in UK and international universities. Former students remember Vince as ‘warm and approachable’, ‘an absolute gent’, ‘good at opening minds’, ‘a generous supervisor and mentor’, and ‘a lovely, warm and inclusive tutor’. The word ‘kind’ comes up frequently in the recollections of colleagues as well as students.

Vince was an outstanding literary critic whose specialisms encompassed the poetry of the pre-Romantic and Romantic periods (Cowper, Gray, and Goldsmith, as well as Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, and Byron) alongside the novels of several nineteenth-century writers (Eliot, Dickens, Hardy, and ‘Mark Rutherford’). Together with two monographs – Cowper’s Poetry: A Critical Study and Reassessment (Liverpool University Press, 1982), and The Scriptures of Charles Dickens: Novels of Ideology, Novels of the Self (Ashgate, 2004) – he also published Centring the Self: Subjectivity, Society and Reading from Thomas Gray to Thomas Hardy (Scolar Press, 1995). He edited numerous collections of essays, including the ground-breaking volume The Pilgrim’s Progress: Critical and Historical Views (Liverpool University Press, 1980), Bunyan being another writer on whom Vince contributed some exceptional work. 

Although he took early retirement in 2006, due to ill health, Vince continued to work alongside Joanne Shattock as a General Editor of the prestigious Ashgate/Routledge ‘The Nineteenth Century’ series (1994 to present), and as editor-in-chief for The Cowper and Newton Journal. He also continued to write, publishing some remarkable articles and essays over the last few years (on Cowper and Bunyan, among other subjects). 

Every piece Vince published presents a master-class in the art of literary criticism, and displays the hallmarks of his enviable style: one that combines acute insight and sensitivity to language and form with an ambitious intellectual vision, all shaped by a delicate yet robust prose crafted to convey something profoundly engaging and formidably perceptive. Bringing all of his gifts as a critic to his lectures and his teaching, he both inspired and supported his students, encouraging them always to take ‘the calculated intellectual risk’: in that way, we ‘further the subject’, as he put it. 

A collection of essays, Literature and Authenticity, 1780–1900, was published in Vince’s honour in 2011, with contributions from many of his former colleagues in English at Liverpool and Leicester. The ‘Afterword’ of this volume pays full tribute to Vince’s career, and to his strengths as a reader, teacher, critic, colleague, and friend. 

Vince passed away on Saturday 16 May, aged 76.  He is survived by his wife Sue, and their two sons, Matthew and Nathan. He will be missed. 

Michael Davies, University of Liverpool and Philip Shaw, University of Leicester

The BARS Review, No. 54 (Spring 2020)

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We are glad to announce the publication of the most recent issue of The BARS Review (No. 54, Spring 2020).  The issue contains fourteen reviews of recent scholarly work within the field of Romanticism, broadly conceived.  Six of the reviews compromise a spotlight on Romantic Wanderings.

If you have comments on the new number, or on the Review in general, we’d be very grateful for any feedback that would allow us to improve the site or its content.  Mark Sandy would also be very happy to hear from people who would like to review for BARS.

Editor: Mark Sandy (Durham University)
General Editors: Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton) and Anthony Mandal (Cardiff University)
Technical Editor: Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow)

No 54 (2020)

Table of Contents

In Memorium

In Memorium: Professor Vincent Newey (1943–2020)
Michael Davies, Philip Shaw


Michelle Levy, Literary Manuscript Culture in Romantic Britain
Anne-Claire Michoux
Mark Vareschi, Everywhere and Nowhere: Anonymity and Mediation in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Gerald Egan
Ian Newman, The Romantic Tavern: Literature and Conviviality in the Age of Revolution
Ian Haywood
Amanda Jo Goldstein, Sweet Science: Romantic Materialism and the New Logics of Life
Noel Jackson
Richard C. Sha, Imagination and Science in Romanticism
Peter Garratt
Madeleine Callaghan, The Poet-Hero in the Work of Byron and Shelley
Francesco Marchionni
Robert Poole, Peterloo: The English Uprising
Fiona Milne
Sebastian Domsch, Christoph Reinfandt, and Katharina Rennhak, eds., Romantic Ambiguities: Abodes of the Modern
Daniel Vázquez Calvo

Spotlight: Romantic Wanderings

Ingrid Horrocks, Women Wanderers and the Writing of Mobility, 1784-1814
Robin Jarvis
Katrina O’Loughlin, Women, Writing, and Travel in the Eighteenth Century
Kaley Kramer
Alexander Grammatikos, British Romantic Literature and the Emerging Modern Greek Nation
Franca Dellarosa
Chiara Rolli, The Trial of Warren Hastings: Classical Oratory and Reception in Eighteenth-Century England
Mariam Wassif
JoEllen DeLucia and Juliet Shields, eds., Migration and Modernities: The State of Being Stateless, 1750-1850
Deirdre Coleman
Alan Bewell, Natures in Translation: Romanticism and Colonial Natural History
David Higgins

Whole Number

The BARS Review, No. 54 (Spring 2020) – review compilation
The BARS Review Editors

Invitation for Submissions: Studies in Hogg and his World

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Deadline for submissions: April 15th 2021

Contact email:

Studies in Hogg and his World invites submissions for the next double issue of the journal (29-30) which is currently scheduled for publication in the Fall of 2021.

Academic articles, pedagogical papers, or notes on any aspect of the life or writings of James Hogg or his contemporaries are welcome. In terms of pedagogical papers, we are especially interested in how the writings of Hogg are made relevant or significant to students in the contemporary classroom.

If you wish to review a book for the journal, please contact the editor, Dr. Holly Faith Nelson (

Studies in Hogg and his World is a double-blind peer reviewed journal. Therefore, all articles, pedagogical papers, and notes submitted will undergo the double-blind peer review process.

About Studies in Hogg and his World      

Studies in Hogg and his World was established in 1990. Its founding editor was Dr Gillian Hughes, the eminent James Hogg scholar, author of James Hogg: A Life (Oxford University Press, 2007), and editor, co-editor, or associate editor of a great many volumes of Hogg’s works for the Stirling / South Carolina Research Edition of the Collected Works of James Hogg. Dr Hughes edited twenty-one issues of Studies in Hogg in his World before handing over the editorship in 2010 to Dr Hans de Groot (1939-2019), Professor Emeritus of the University of Toronto, the editor of the Stirling / South Carolina edition of James Hogg’s Highland Journeys, and author of scholarly articles and book chapters on Hogg’s works. With the passing of Dr de Groot in 2019, the editorship was taken up by Dr Holly Faith Nelson, Professor and Chair of English at Trinity Western University, co-editor, with Dr. Sharon Alker, of James Hogg and the Literary Marketplace: Scottish Romanticism and the Working-Class Author (Ashgate, 2009; Routledge, 2018), and co-author, with Dr Alker, of a series of articles and book chapters on the life and works of James Hogg published over the past two decades.

Advisory Editors

Professor Sharon Alker (Whitman College)

Dr Paul Barnaby (University of Edinburgh)

Professor Ian Campbell (University of Edinburgh)

Professor Ian Duncan (University of California Berkeley)

Professor Angela Esterhammer (University of Toronto)

Professor Peter Garside (University of Edinburgh)

Dr Suzanne Gilbert (University of Stirling)

Dr Robin MacLachlan (Treasurer, James Hogg Society)

Professor Anthony Mandal (University of Wales, Cardiff)

Professor Silvia Mergenthal (University of Konstanz)

Professor Holly Faith Nelson (Trinity Western University)

Dr Meiko O’Halloran (University of Newcastle)

Professor Murray Pittock (University of Glasgow)

Professor Patrick Scott (University of South Carolina)

Professor Fiona Stafford (Somerville College, University of Oxford)

Professor Graham Tulloch (Flinders University)