News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

The 2017 Scottish Romanticism Research Award: Deadline 30th June

Postgraduates and postdoctoral scholars working in any area of Scottish literature (1740-1830) are invited to apply for the jointly funded BARS-UCSL Scottish Romanticism Research Award.  The executive committees of the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) and the Universities Committee for Scottish Literature (UCSL) have established the award to help fund expenses incurred through travel to Scottish libraries and archives, including universities other than the applicant’s own, up to a maximum of £300.  A postgraduate may be a current or recent Master’s student (within two years of graduation) or a PhD candidate; a postdoctoral scholar is defined as someone who holds a PhD but does not hold a permanent academic post.  If appropriate, UCSL will endeavour to assign the awardee an academic liaison at one of its partner universities. For a list of partner universities please see

Successful applicants must be members of BARS before taking up the award (to join please visit  The recipient will be announced on the BARS and UCSL websites, and he or she will be asked to submit a short report to the BARS Executive Committee, and to acknowledge BARS and UCSL in their doctoral thesis and/or any publication arising from the research trip.

Please send the following information in support of your application (up to two pages of A4 in word.doc format):

1. Your full name and institutional affiliation (if any).
2. The working title and a short abstract or summary of your PhD or current project.
3. Brief description of the research to be undertaken for which you need support.
4. Libraries or institutions at which you will work.
5. Estimated costing of proposed research trip.
6. Estimated travel dates.
7. Name of one supervisor/referee (with email address) to whom application can be made for a supporting reference on your behalf. A reference is not required at the time of applying.

Applications and questions should be directed to the BARS bursaries officer, Dr Daniel Cook ( at the University of Dundee.  The deadline for applications is 30th June 2017.  The research trip must take place within a year (i.e. by 1st July 2018).

Austen at 200: A Series of Events, York, 2017

Please see below for the details of an exciting programme of events to celebrate 200 years since the death of Jane Austen. Contact: Alison O’Byrne (University of York).




A series of events to commemorate Jane Austen’s writing and her legacy marking the 200th anniversary of her death. Presented by the University of York in partnership with City Screen, the South Bank Community Cinema, York Festival of Ideas, and Fairfax House.


Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen, pencil and watercolour, circa 1810. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen, pencil and watercolour, circa 1810. National Portrait Gallery, London.


Wednesday 24 May

Love and Friendship film screening with discussion, City Screen 6:15

Followed by Austen: Literature, Film …or History?

Join us for a screening of Whit Stillman’s 2016 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, followed by a lively discussion with Emma Major (English, York), Erica Sheen (English, York), and Catriona Kennedy (History, York).   Tickets available through City Screen website.


Friday 26 May

Clueless film screening with introduction, South Bank Community Cinema at Clements Hall, 7.00

Amy Heckerling’s 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, introduced by adaptation specialist Suzanne Spiedel (Sheffield Hallam University), with Erica Sheen (York).   Tickets at the door or contact the cinema.


Tuesday 30 May

Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies Annual Stephen Copley Lecture, Huntingdon Room, King’s Manor 5.00

Kathryn Sutherland (Oxford):   Austen as Wartime Novelist

Austen’s popular and critical reception through much of the twentieth century was built on her seeming ignorance of public events, well described by Marilyn Butler as a ‘discreet’ approach to ideas. But just how discreet was she? Kathryn Sutherland presents an account of Austen’s commitment to recording events from the perspective of everyday reality, and argues that it is time to reclaim her as the first English novelist to explore the effect of contemporary war on the home front. This event is free; no tickets required.


Thursday 8 June, Festival of Ideas

British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Patron’s Lecture, Berrick Saul Building, University of York 6.00

John Mullan (UCL): What Matters in Jane Austen

Which important Jane Austen characters never speak? What do the characters call one another, and why? What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? Join John Mullan of University College London for this British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Patron’s Lecture as he asks and answers some very specific questions about what goes on in Austen’s novels, revealing the inner workings of their greatness.  Sponsored by the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Tickets free from York Festival of Ideas (01904 324119).


Thursday 8 June, Festival of Ideas

Roundtable discussion, Berrick Saul Building, University of York 7:15-8:45

The Enduring Appeal of Jane Austen

With Bharat Tandon (UEA), Emma Major (York) and Deborah Yaffe (author of Among the Janeites), chaired by Alison O’Byrne (York)

What is Jane Austen’s legacy and why does her work continue to enjoy such popularity? Following John Mullan’s lecture, join our panel of experts and enthusiasts as they explore all things Austen: the enduring appeal of her novels, the fascination with the life of the author, the ways in which her novels have been adapted and reworked, and the many aspects of Austen fandom.

Tickets free from York Festival of Ideas (01904 324119).


Sunday 11 June

Illustrated talk and discussion, South Bank Community at Clements Hall, 7.00

Historians at work

Historian Hannah Greig (York) discusses and illustrates her work as historical consultant on films and tv including Death Comes to Pemberley, The Duchess and Poldark.

Tickets at the door or contact the cinema.


Wednesday 14 June

Sense and Sensibility film screening with discussion: City Screen 6:00

Austen: Film…or Literature?

Join us for a screening of Ang Lee’s 1995 film, nominated for seven Academy Awards (including Best Adapted Screenplay win for Emma Thompson), followed by a lively debate with experts from the Departments of Theatre, Film, and Television and English and Related Literature at York. Screenwriter Simon van der Borgh and JT Welsch put the case for Film; Mary Fairclough and Alison O’Byrne respond on behalf of Literature. Chaired by Michael McCluskey.

Tickets available from the City Screen website.


Friday 30 June

Fairfax House Public Lecture, Fairfax House 7:00*

Hilary Davidson: “Recreating Jane Austen’s Silk Pelisse-Coat”

What did Jane Austen wear? The only known garment associated with the beloved author is a brown silk pelisse-coat in the collection of Hampshire Council. Like a detective story, a project to recreate the pelisse allowed a rich investigation into the history, context and physical qualities of the coat, and revealed new information about the object – and the wearer.

Tickets available from Fairfax House.


Friday 14 July

Fairfax House Public Lecture, Fairfax House 7:00*

Emma Major (York): “Pictures of perfection…make me sick and wicked”: Jane Austen and Reading for Lies

As Austen wrote to her niece Fanny Knight, whose admirer had criticized the comportment of Austen’s heroines: ‘Pictures of Perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked’. In this lecture, Emma Major (York) looks at the ways in which Austen encourages us to be suspicious of perfection, and to become better readers of character. Indeed the case could be made that Austen’s fiction offers the reader a first-rate lesson in detective skills. As P.D. James points out, detective fiction ‘does not require a murder’ but ‘does require a mystery’ – and as we’ll see, Austen provides plenty of these, continuing to inspire crime fiction writers of today. This investigation of Austen’s lifelong fascination with letters shows how Austen uses them to teach her heroines to become better readers of flawed human nature.

Tickets available from Fairfax House.


Organizers: Alison O’Byrne ( and Erica Sheen (

* Organized by Fairfax House

The BARS Review, No. 49 (Spring 2017)


The Editors are pleased to announce the publication of the 49th number of The BARS Review, the seventh available in full online through the new website.  This number includes twenty-seven reviews covering thirty-one new publications, as well as a special spotlight on Romantic Revolutions.  The list of contents below includes links to the html versions of the articles, but all the reviews are also available as pdfs.  If you want to browse through the whole number at your leisure, a pdf compilation of all the reviews is available.

If you have any 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 the content.

Editor: Susan Valladares (St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford)
General Editors: Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton), Susan Oliver (University of Essex) & Nicola J. Watson (Open University)
Technical Editor: Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow)


The BARS Review, No 49 (Spring 2017)

Table of Contents


Meiko O’Halloran, James Hogg and British Romanticism: A Kaleidoscopic Art
Holly Faith Nelson
Gillian Williamson, British Masculinity in the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1731 to 1815
Caroline Gonda
Bernard Beatty, Byron’s Don Juan
Anna Camilleri
Clara Tuite, Lord Byron and Scandalous Celebrity
Emily A. Bernhard Jackson
Sara Guyer, Reading with John Clare: Biopoetics, Sovereignty, Romanticism
Adam White
Adam Roberts, Landor’s Cleanness. A Study of Walter Savage Landor
Gioia Angeletti
Marilyn Butler, Mapping Mythologies: Countercurrents in Eighteenth-Century British Poetry and Cultural History
Chris Bundock
Mark Canuel, ed., British Romanticism: Criticism and Debates
Octavia Cox
Adriana Craciun, Writing Arctic Disaster: Authorship and Exploration
Murray Pittock
David Porter, The Chinese Taste in the Eighteenth Century
William Christie
Jennifer Jesse, William Blake’s Religious Vision: There’s a Methodism in His Madness
Keri Davies
Andrew Bennett, ed., William Wordsworth in Context and Robert M. Ryan, Charles Darwin and the Church of Wordsworth
Christopher Donaldson
Kate Parker and Courtney Weiss Smith, eds., Eighteenth-Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel Reconsidered and Eric Parisot, Graveyard Poetry: Religion, Aesthetics and the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Poetic Condition
Tobias Menely
Angela Wright and Dale Townshend, eds., Romantic Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion
Matt Foley
Jim Davis, Comic Acting and Portraiture in Late-Georgian and Regency England
Heather McPherson
Liam Lenihan, The Writings of James Barry and the Genre of History Painting, 1775-1809
Christopher Rovee
John Bugg, ed., The Joseph Johnson Letterbook
James M. Morris
Stewart Cooke with Elaine Bander, eds., The Additional Journals and Letters of Frances Burney, Volume I: 1784-1786
Cassandra Ulph
Amy Prendergast, Literary Salons Across Britain and Ireland in the Long Eighteenth Century
Susanne Schmid
Tim Fulford, Romantic Poetry and Literary Coteries: The Dialect of the Tribe and Tim Fulford and Michael E. Sinatra, eds., The Regency Revisited
Josefina Tuominen-Pope
Matthew Wickman, Literature After Euclid: The Geometric Imagination in the Long Scottish Enlightenment
Marcus Tomalin
Mark J. Bruhn and Donald R. Wehrs, eds., Cognition, Literature, and History
Niall Gildea
Chase Pielak, Memorializing Animals during the Romantic Period
Barbara K. Seeber

Spotlight: Romantic Revolutions

David Andress, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution
Liam Chambers
A. D. Cousins and Geoffrey Payne, eds., Home and Nation in British Literature from the English to the French Revolutions
Amy Milka
James Mulholland, Sounding Imperial: Poetic Voice and the Politics of Empire, 1730-1820 and Evan Gottlieb, Romantic Globalism: British Literature and Modern World Order, 1750-1830
Juan Luis Sánchez
Mary Fairclough, The Romantic Crowd: Sympathy, Controversy and Print Culture
David Fallon

Review of ‘William Wordsworth’: a new play by Nicholas Pierpan

We welcome Lyn Dawes to the BARS blog, and thank her for this engaging review of the new play by Nicholas Pierpan (Wolfson College, Oxford), entitled  ‘William Wordsworth‘, and performed at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. The play was directed by Michael Oakley.




Review: William Wordsworth by Nicholas Pierpan

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, Cumbria 31 March – 22 April 2017


Parents will recognise the futility of attempting to write with children around. Little Tom Wordsworth pesters his father, hooting like an owl and dancing about; meanwhile Dorothy and Sara Hutchinson tackle the endless housework, while Mary has not emerged from her bedroom with the new baby. Eventually William gives in, not to reprimand his little boy, but to play with him – an unusual thing for a father, perhaps. But he is not writing poetry. William is writing letters in an attempt to restore his friendship with Coleridge, fractured when Coleridge left Grasmere for London and arrived to find that Wordsworth had warned their mutual friends of his expensive habits, his erratic behaviour, and the general mayhem generated around a garrulous, gregarious visitor with an addiction to taking opiates and brandy for his chronic digestive problems. This rift caused irretrievable hurt, with Coleridge recording that it had ‘spread a wide gloom over the world around me’.


This English Touring Theatre production depicts the poverty and confusion of the Wordsworth household in 1812. William provided for his sister Dorothy, wife Mary and her sister Sara and his five children, but his finances remained blighted by Lord Lonsdale’s swindling. And the seminal Lyrical Ballads published fourteen years earlier could not provide an adequate income. William was convinced – partly by Coleridge’s generous and constant support – that his poetry was to resound through future years, but felt that the world was not yet prepared for his work. His reluctance to publish had brought the family to a crisis which was dreadfully compounded by the death of Catherine Wordsworth aged three.


The Theatre by the Lake


The production gives credit to the tireless work of women in a patriarchal society, with Dorothy and Sara supporting Mary and enabling William’s thinking, and Sara providing Coleridge with loving warmth and care. The production also presents working people with respect, showing them to be in tune with the world. In contrast the London lords and ladies value style over substance and are wholly occupied by the process of idolising the young Lord Byron. Wordsworth’s patron George Beaumont, played by Joseph Mydell, is serious minded and principled in a reassuring way. The somewhat shadowy Mrs Coleridge (Rosalind Steele) here holds her own as remarkably cheerful and outgoing.





Dorothy (Emma Pallant) is wonderfully frantic about her brother’s home comforts, getting totally caught up in the washing and childminding, but startlingly paused by the reminder that Coleridge considered her a genius. Daniel Abelson is completely persuasive as the impossible but magnetic Coleridge. He conveys the charisma, the verbal fireworks, the baffling mix of huge intellectual power and needy loner in a world lacking in understanding. The complex relationship between Coleridge and Sara is skimmed over, for all its fascination. It is a play about Wordsworth after all. Wordsworth is commandingly brought to life by John Sackville who conveys the impression of a man both articulate and strong minded, capable of holding his own with the glitterati, playing with his child, and listening to a wandering Leech Gatherer (a redundant profession thankfully) with equal attention and imagination.


So when young Tom died of measles, we were shocked and dismayed. The impact of poverty and the smoky, unfavourable house in Grasmere had taken their awful toll. The quality of the play portrays the quality of the people and we really do mind what is happening to them. Wordsworth, despite Coleridge’s eloquent attempts to dissuade him, takes a paying job with the unpleasant Lord Lonsdale; this was his way of sorting out his living conditions and enabling his family not merely to stay together but actually to survive. And his writing continues…. his poem for Tom ‘There Was A Boy’ was movingly included in the play:


There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs

And islands of Winander! many a time,

At evening, when the earliest stars began

To move along the edges of the hills,

Rising or setting, would he stand alone,

Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake;

And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands

Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth

Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,

Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls

That they might answer him.


Wordsworth at first sent the poem to Coleridge, who wrote back ‘[The lines] I should have recognised any where; and had I met these lines running wild in the deserts of Arabia, I should have instantly screamed out “Wordsworth!”‘





This poem and his evocation of his Cockermouth birthplace, both to be found in the Prelude, helped us as an audience to remember why we were there – this play is not a Downton Abbey story, but an explanation and celebration of the quality of Wordsworth’s writing and his resounding impact on the way ideas are conveyed in poetry. Here he is living as in impoverished circumstances but his mind is not on the staple diet of oatmeal but instead always absorbed by observing, reflecting and writing using plain language about the natural world and our relation to it. The Prelude as a description and analysis of his own life is surprisingly generalisable, and the everyday people he encountered are accorded respect and a presence in his poetry.


            For this, didst thou,

O Derwent! winding among grassy holms

Where I was looking on, a babe in arms,

Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts

To more than infant softness, giving me

Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind

A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm

That Nature breathes among the hills and groves.


To meet these people and hear the poetry, with its conversational tone and integral links to the natural world, having just walked alongside Derwent Water on an evening when the lake and fells were still, was a spirit-lifting reminder of the power of words. The play stresses the importance of language in conveying ideas between people and between generations. The Lakeland town of Keswick was often the setting for Wordsworth and Coleridge’s collaborative thinking. Coleridge lived at Greta Hall in Keswick and would set off down to Grasmere overnight – sometimes arriving as Dorothy tells us, by walking over Grizedale (which is enormous) with a large stick in his hand, ending this epic by being pursued by a cow. Dorothy and William would walk with him on the first stage of his return journey north up the slope of Dunmail Raise or ‘up the Rays’ as Dorothy says. These are the places that influence Wordsworth’s thinking, and the play depicts these settings, the work of writing, and the human lives involved, with great skill and sensitivity.





The Theatre By the Lake offers the play an ideal venue. Derwent Water remains essentially unchanged, the transient landing stages, visitors and homes having no impact on its power to impress. The stage set mutated between rooms and scenes as the cast quietly moved shutters, carried things, and managed whole furniture removals in harmony. Nicholas Pierpan is to be commended for providing the thread of this episode of Wordsworth’s story plaited with themes of the better aspects of human dignity, loyalty and integrity, in an unsentimental yet truly moving play. I hopefully await any sequel – perhaps a parallel play about Coleridge – as a way of understanding our own lives and times through witnessing these life experiences and the words we are left with. A bit like the surrounding fells, these are remote and admirable yet strangely accessible people.


Crummock Water

Crummock Water


The header is taken from the English Touring Theatre webpage, where there are more images of the cast here. The Theatre by the Lake photograph is from Google, and the other photographs are the author’s own, all taken in the North Lakes near Keswick.

Lyn Dawes is a consultant in Education, specialising in Primary Science and Spoken Language. She is author of a range of books for teachers and school students, most recently Talking Points (Routledge, 2012) Talking Points for Shakespeare Plays (Routledge, 2013) and Talk Box (Routledge 2107). Lyn provides interactive workshops for teachers and education managers wishing to promote engagement and achievement through the teaching of oracy in primary classrooms. Lyn lives in Cockermouth, Cumbria.

CFA: Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender, and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth-Century


Guest Editors:  Dr Katie Faulkner (The Courtauld Institute of Art and Arcadia University) Dr Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh)

This special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies will use ‘craft’ as a framework for understanding how various forms of masculinity were constructed and expressed during the long nineteenth-century (1789-1914) in Britain and internationally.

Deadline for completed manuscripts: 30 October 2017

Please send all manuscripts and/or queries to


CFA: Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender, and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth-Century

Picture1Narratives focusing on the heroic male artist and privileging the ‘fine art’ over the ‘decorative’ emerged in the nineteenth century and were perpetuated by modernist writers and formalist art historians throughout the twentieth century. Yet the continuing preoccupation with the male genius and his masterpieces has been challenged by feminist interventions in art historical scholarship, often by reintroducing the significance of craft, and its female practitioners, into histories of material production. This endeavour has found a particular ally in material culture studies. Unburdened by art historical divisions between the fine and decorative arts, high art and craft, a substantial literature on the relationship between women and material culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has recently emerged (see for example Maureen Daly Goggin and Beth Fowkes Tobin’s four-part edited collection on Women and Things: Gendered Material Strategies, 1750-1950 (2009), Material Women, 1750-1950: Consuming Desires and Collecting Practices(2009), Women and the Material Culture of Needlework and Textiles, 1750-1950 (2009), and Women and the Material Culture of Death (2013)). Despite this historiographical richness, the figure of the male crafter is noticeably absent from the history of nineteenth-century art and culture, aside from notable exceptions associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, such as William Morris and Charles Robert Ashbee, and organisations like the Art Worker’s Guild.

Nevertheless, the ideas and practices of craft permeated the very fabric of everyday life in the nineteenth century. As a material category, craft encompasses a diverse range of objects, the production of which was central to a number of professional and personal masculine identities. Produced within or outside of the art academy or studio, made singly or collaboratively, and used to express both public and private selves, craft provides a compelling metaphor for thinking about how nineteenth-century masculinity was itself ‘made’. Focusing on objects and figures that have previously been overlooked within scholarship, the issue will reveal forgotten narratives and ignored identities, thereby providing an alternative material record of masculinity in the long nineteenth century.


This interdisciplinary special issue will explore the material and metaphorical role of craft in constructing nineteenth-century masculinities, enriching an already vibrant secondary literature on gender and material culture. We encourage submissions of 5,000-8,000 words on any aspect of the relationship between masculinity and craft during the period 1789-1914. Submissions that are accepted will be subject to blind peer-review. Potential topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • tensions between domestic practices and professional craftsmanship
  • collaboration and homosociability
  • craft and queer masculinities
  • craft and emotion
  • craft and recuperation
  • the arts and crafts movement
  • craft made by prisoners, soldiers, and sailors
  • craft as an elite hobby/craft as a labouring class pursuit
  • craft in the age of mechanical reproduction
  • craft and dress
  • craft as/and self-fashioning
  • craft as activism
  • the idea of masculinity as ‘crafted’

Images: Rodolphe Christen, George Sim in His Workshop, Aberdeen, 1890, oil on canvas. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums & J.M.W. Turner, An Artists’ Colourman’s Workshop, c. 1807, oil on wood. Tate.

Original post from Freya Gowrley here.

The William Blake Archive: an update

Please see below for a statement from the William Blake Archive:


‘Two decades ago, the William Blake Archive set out to address, through the opportunities of digital media, the considerable challenges inherent in reproducing Blake’s work. A pioneer in digital humanities scholarship, the archive has brought together both streams of Blake’s work, for the first time making it easily available as he originally created it. A newly launched, transformative redesign of the archive makes this international public resource even more accessible to scholars and casual readers.

The archive now holds almost 7,000 images from 45 of the world’s leading research libraries and museums. It integrates editions, catalogs, databases, and scholarly tools into a single electronic archive.

It is a joint project of the University of Rochester and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with support from the Library of Congress.

The archive made history when, in 2003, it became the first electronic scholarly edition to receive the Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition from the Modern Language Association, the major professional organization for the study and teaching of language and literature. And in 2005, the archive received the MLA’s Approved Edition seal—another digital edition first.

Here’s a link to our story, which we have presented in conjunction with National Poetry Month.’

– Kathleen McGarvey

Call for Papers: Dream and Literary Creation in Women’s Writings in the 18th and 19th Centuries


Please see below for details of a conference to be held at the Université Clermont-Auvergne in France next year. 


Call for papers

International Conference, Clermont-Ferrand, 5-7 April 2018

Université Clermont-Auvergne – CELIS


« ‘with shut eyes, but acute mental vision’: Dream and Literary Creation in Women’s Writings in the 18th and 19th Centuries »



In June 1816, in a house on the shores of Lake Geneva, a young girl of barely 19 had a dream which would turn out to be the source of one of the greatest contemporary myths of modern times. This pivotal dream has remained prominent thanks to the preface that Mary Shelley wrote for the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, in which she describes a vivid, integrally visionary experience: “I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision, – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together […].” In a lesser-known dream, a year earlier, Shelley brings her premature, unnamed first-born back to life: “Dreamt that my little baby came to life again; that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed it before the fire, and it lived. Awake and find no baby” (19th March 1815).

Dreams in Frankenstein are at the heart of the writing process but they also constitute the diegetic substance of the narrative. Victor’s nightmare, which follows the opening of the Creature’s “dull yellow eye” (Volume I, chapter 4), is difficult to overlook in any critical consideration of the importance of dreams in the novel. To mark the bicentenary of Frankenstein’s publication in 1818, this conference will re-examine the previously-recognised oneiric facets of the novel and develop fresh perspectives on dreams and dreaming in Mary Shelley’s fiction. Proposals with a special focus on those three dreams, as well as on other works by Mary Shelley in which dreams are often premonitory (Valperga, Matilda, “The Dream” for example), are particularly welcome. Discussion may also extend to analyses of day-dreaming which Mary Shelley also refers to in her preface when she distinguishes between her youthful fancies, “all [her] own”, and her fiction, destined to be read by others.

In addition, the oneiric character of Frankenstein is particularly relevant in any reappraisal of the textuality of dreams and their link to women’s creativity and creation as a whole. Accounts of real dreams in diaries and letters may interrogate the paradox of the invasion of Self by a radically Other force (“My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me”, wrote Mary Shelley), when the passive dreamer turns into a waking creative subject. Ontological alterity may be considered as being located at the core of such processes. Is there a specifically female understanding or expression of this encounter with the Other within? Literary dreams, whose putative oneiric nature needs further clarification, oscillate between narrative dexterity and the expression of possibly subconscious scenarios. How significant is a character’s dream? Is it radically inconsistent and heterogeneous? We therefore also invite papers on these, and other, connections between dream and fiction in novels written by Shelley and other female novelists.

Thus, the central issue of authorial intention in novels (or in poetry or plays if relevant), published from the end of the 17th century to the late 19th century, is the line of enquiry which this conference hopes to pursue. How is Mary Shelley’s creative outlook and experience mirrored in the writing of her contemporaries’ (Frances Burney’s or Ann Radcliffe’s for example), or in that of female authors who came before or after her (Jane Barker and the Brontë sisters for example)? Approaches developed by Margaret Anne Doody (“Deserts, Ruins and Troubled Waters: Female Dreams in Fiction and the Development of the Gothic Novel”, 1977), Ronald Thomas (Dreams of Authority, 1990, on the Gothic and nineteenth-century novels) or Julia Epstein on Burney (The Iron Pen, 1989) may be particularly pertinent here.


Papers may be given in English (preferably) or in French.

Please send your proposals to Isabelle Hervouet-Farrar and Anne Rouhette at before 30th September 2017.


Scientific committee:

Caroline Bertonèche, Université de Grenoble

Lilla Maria Crisafulli, University of Bologna

Isabelle Hervouet-Farrar, Université Clermont-Auvergne

Anne Rouhette, Université Clermont-Auvergne

Victor Sage, University of East Anglia

Jean Viviès, Université d’Aix-Marseille


‘Animals and humans: sensibility and representation, 1650-1820’ edited by Katherine M. Quinsey

From the Voltaire Foundation:

A new edited volume entitled Animals and humans: sensibility and representation, 1650-1820 has just been published – including several articles relevant to Romantic period studies.

Here is a post by the editor Katherine M. Quinsey on her experience of putting the volume together (reproduced with permission). Please also see below for details of the book itself.


Animals and humans in the long eighteenth century: an intricate relationship

How does a scholarly book get started? In the majority of cases it is bound with the author or editor’s passion and deep-rooted (and often inexplicable) connection with his or her subject matter. For me, Animals and humans: sensibility and representation, 1650-1820 began nearly ten years ago, when I read Kathryn Shevelow’s eminently readable book For the love of animals, about the growth of the animal welfare movement in the eighteenth century. Our relationship with animals never ceases to fascinate, as we see from the Wellcome Collection’s current exhibition ‘Making nature: how we see animals’, and animal studies has recently flourished in the academic mainstream. Like Shevelow’s book, it crosses the boundaries between specialised academic study and deeply felt human experience.

My own beginning with this subject, though, occurred almost in infancy. An innate attraction to animals, these others with whom we co-exist on this planet, is shared by almost all small children and all human cultures in one way or another, and is represented throughout human history. And as we see in very small children, in this oldest relationship of the human species we still find a deep connection and resonance. In bringing together and editing this book, it was wonderfully liberating to be able to combine a lifelong passionate interest in animals with my own professional field of eighteenth-century literary and cultural studies.

Gainsborough, Girl with pigs (1782)

Thomas Gainsborough, Girl with pigs (1782), oil on canvas; Castle Howard Collection. © Castle Howard; reproduced by kind permission of the Howard family.

1650-1820 – the timeframe we cover in our study – is the period associated both with the growth of experimental science and the horrors of vivisection, and with the rise of modern humanitarianism. While the defence of animal rights itself goes back to classical times, in the eighteenth century it was directly linked to a growing awareness of universal human rights and a new definition of humanity based on the ability to feel rather than in the primacy of reason. Together with the abolitionist and feminist movements of the later eighteenth century, animal welfare came to resemble its modern self, with legislation first enacted in 1820.

Simon after Gainsborough, The Woodman

Peter Simon after Gainsborough, The Woodman (1791 [1787]), stipple engraving; Sudbury, Gainsborough House. © Gainsborough House.

But in this book we aim to explore more deeply the human relationship with animals in the long eighteenth century, in many different forms of expression. As shown by the different essays in this volume, this ancient relationship challenges not only the arbitrary divisions of Western cultural history (classicism and romanticism, for example), and not only disciplinary boundaries between poetry and science, art and animal husbandry, fiction and natural history, but also the basic assumptions of human self-perception, in which we do not see animals as objects of our ‘objective’ study, but rather as beings with whom we share a space and who demand a mutual response. A major thread of this book, then, is the re-evaluation of sentiment and sensibility, terms that in the eighteenth century referred to the primacy of emotion, and which were not solely the prerogative of humans. Through the lens of eighteenth-century European culture, contributors to this volume show how the animal presence, whether real or imagined, forces a different reading not only of texts but also of society: how humans are changed, and how we the readers are changed, in our encounters with the non-human other, in history, art, literature, natural science and economics. More deeply, we are reminded of the power and antiquity of this relationship.



Animals and humans: sensibility and representation, 1650-1820

Ed. Katherine M. Quinsey

European culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries witnessed a radical redefinition of ‘humanity’ and its place in the environment, together with a new understanding of animals and their relation to humans. In examining the dynamics of animal-human relations as embodied in the literature, art, farming practices, natural history, religion and philosophy of this period, leading experts explore the roots of much current thinking on interspecies morality and animal welfare.


Katherine M. Quinsey, Introduction

Ann A. Huse, Edmund Waller’s whales: marine mammals and animal heroism in the early Atlantic

Lucinda Cole, Guns, ivory and elephant graveyards: the biopolitics of elephants’ teeth

Anita Guerrini, Animals and natural history in eighteenth-century France

Denys Van Renen, ‘A hollow Moan’: the contours of the non-human world in James Thomson’s ‘The Seasons’

James P. Carson, The great chain of being as an ecological idea

Kathryn Ready, John Aikin, Joseph Addison and two eighteenth-century Eastern tales of remembered metempsychosis

Katherine M. Quinsey, ‘Little Lives in Air’: animal sentience and sensibility in Pope

Rachel Swinkin, ‘No, helpless thing’: interspecies intimacy in the poetry of Burns and Barbauld

Sarah R. Cohen, Thomas Gainsborough’s sensible animals

Anne Milne, Animal actors: literary pedigrees and bloodlines in eighteenth-century animal breeding

Irene Fizer, ‘An egg dropped on the sand’: the natural history of female bastardy from Mark Catesby to Mary Wollstonecraft

Barbara K. Seeber, Animals and the country-house tradition in Mary Leapor’s ‘Crumble Hall’ and Jane Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’



Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, April 2017

ISBN 978-0-7294-1193-6, 336 pages, 19 ills


Recommend this book to your librarian

Call for Papers: The 46th Wordsworth Summer Conference, 2017

The Call for Papers for the next Wordsworth Summer Conference has now been released. See below for further details, and follow the links for details on how to apply for a bursary/submit an abstract.

The 46th Wordsworth Summer Conference, 2017
Monday 7 August to Thursday 17 August at Rydal Hall, Cumbria

Keynote Lectures, 2017:
Gillian Beer   Matthew Bevis   James Engell
Richard Gravil   Meiko O’Halloran   Nick Halmi
Alexandra Harris  Felicity James
Michael O’Neill
Fiona Robertson   Fiona Stafford
Heidi Thomson   Kasahara Yorimichi

and the link to our bursaries for postgraduate students

Key Features:

    • The conference is in two parts, of five nights each, with a changeover day
    • 7 excursions, 7 fell-walks, and some lower level walks
    • 13 keynote lectures and 30-34 papers
    • Either 4 or 9 full days in Rydal 
    • Excursions to places of Wordsworthian connections or general cultural interest 
    • Up to seventy miles of fell walking

Report from the 19thC Matters public engagement training day at Chawton House Library

Thank you to Jessica Hindes for the following post, reporting from the Nineteenth Century Matters public engagement training day. This event was held at the stunning location of Chawton House Library on 28 January 2017, and was sponsored by BARS and BAVS. You can follow tweets from the event by searching for the hashtag #C19Matters. Jessica is also on twitter (@bleakho).

The Nineteenth Century Matters Training Day on Public Engagement: A Report for BARS

The Nineteenth Century Matters public engagement training day at Chawton House Library offered postgraduate researchers in Romantic and Victorian studies the opportunity to come together in order to consider both the wider purpose of public engagement in academia, and the types of engagement activity they might begin to develop from their own research. With bursaries on offer to researchers without permanent academic employment, the day’s organisers displayed a refreshing awareness of the pressures faced by those coming out of the PhD into a difficult job market. As an early career researcher without institutional affiliation, one of the aspects of the day that I most enjoyed was the chance that it offered to connect with others in the same situation.


Chawton House Library in Hampshire

It was also a delight to attend an event where every one of the papers, panels and activities was so practically useful and so well thought out. The morning began with a talk from Professor Mark Llewellyn, the Director for Research at the AHRC, on ‘Living (in) the Library’, which considered the ways in which academics’ work might be enriched through contact with cultural centres outside of the university (libraries, museums) and which centred on Mark’s own experience as an early career researcher living and working in what is now the Gladstone Library in Hawarden, North Wales. In a highly entertaining paper, Mark raised thought-provoking questions about the ways in which scholars’ work is perceived by those outside the academy, invoking the notion of ‘hospitality’ to describe an approach that starts from an audience’s existing knowledge and beliefs rather than holding them to rigid academic standards from the outset.

As the day developed, Mark’s ideas about meeting an audience in spaces outside the university and his emphasis on the public engagement process as something reciprocal – something that benefits both sides – reappeared in papers from Dr Claire Wood (of the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement) and Professor Holly Furneaux (of Cardiff University). Claire’s paper provided a whistlestop tour through some of the fundamental principles of public engagement best practice, recommending that researchers planning any public engagement activity consider purpose, process and people (audience) as well as prioritising evaluation as a fundamental component of their work. Claire offered links to numerous resources and pointed those attending toward NCCPE’s work in linking researchers with institutions beyond the academy, in particular the MUPI programme which connects university scholars with small museums. Holly’s presentation reflected on a public engagement project undertaken in collaboration with the National Army Museum, for whom she is a research ambassador. Holly had worked with children in schools local to the Museum (and incidentally, to Chawton House) on ‘The Ballad of the Boy Captain’, a story from the Crimean War. Holly made an enthusiastic case for academic public engagement, suggesting that done right, it could shape the direction of research in fruitful and unexpected ways. However, she was also honest about some of the challenges of this work. She pointed to the ‘opportunity cost’ involved in establishing the relationships that underpinned good engagement activity, as well as the real financial cost incurred in making study visits and giving up time to volunteer. Of course, any early career researcher is familiar with the investment of time and often money required to participate in the activities necessary to maintain a strong academic profile, but it was refreshing to hear this addressed so openly here.

Mark Llewellyn

Mark Llewellyn

Other speakers were drawn from the type of non-academic institution suggested as useful partners in undertaking this kind of activity: Professor Gillian Dow, the Executive Director of Chawton House Library (and an academic at Southampton), and Mary Guyatt, the curator at Jane Austen’s House. Gillian spoke about her experiences since joining Chawton House in 2014 and the efforts she has made to bring new audiences into the library, focusing on an exhibition hosted at Chawton in 2016 to mark 200 years since the publication of Emma. As Mark had done earlier in the morning, Gillian offered an amusing insight into some of the difficulties of reaching out to the public alongside her assessment of the many benefits of doing so (with an acknowledgement that working on a popular figure like Jane Austen brings particular challenges of its own). Mary then shared some of her expertise about the ways in which universities and museums can work together, suggesting that this might take the form of less obvious collaborations, such as writing labels for exhibits, or cataloguing parts of collections as well as offering talks or events.

After lunch, participants separated into smaller groups to work with the speakers and experts in attendance on developing public engagement activities from their own research. Although the time limitations meant that ideas could reach only a very early stage at this point, I found the exercises thought-provoking, and my fellow conference-goers full of creative insight. I also appreciated the focus with which Gillian (leading my session) encouraged us to consider the practicalities of what we suggested: where would the money come from? Where would we stage and how publicise our work? As was the case with all of the morning’s talks on the day, the session felt grounded in the reality of today’s humanities research environment, offering concrete suggestions to point the researcher on their way. Alongside the chance to connect to others in a similar position, this was for me the best thing about the whole event: its pragmatic focus on getting things done.

The grounds at Chawton

The grounds at Chawton

The last session of the day offered the opportunity to come back together, to thank those who had offered their expertise throughout, and to express gratitude to the event’s organiser Catherine Han for her hard work in putting on the day. I left Chawton not only with some useful new connections in hand, but with a renewed confidence in my own position within the nineteenth-century studies research environment and (most of all) with a number of positive ideas about my own future practice as an academic in the public sphere.

Jessica Hindes

Some tweets from the day-

Also, you can read the BAVS report here: