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BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Matthew Sangster

All posts by Matthew Sangster

Five Questions: David Fallon on Blake, Myth and Enlightenment

David Fallon is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton.  He has published widely on topics including the debates surrounding the French Revolution, London bookselling and Romantic-period notions of sociability, but has a particular interest in William Blake, on whom he has published a series of articles and book chapters that have now culminated in his first monograph, Blake, Myth, and Enlightenment (Palgrave, 2017), which we discuss below.

1) How did you first become interested in Blake’s tangled relationship with Enlightenment thought?

I’d originally got interested in Blake through music and he seems to combine the dreamy utopianism of psychedelia with the hard-headed opposition and disillusionment of punk.  I was always drawn to Blake as a contradictory writer and artist, whose difficulty to pin down was part of his fascination.  From my undergraduate days I found him sitting uneasily with traditional notions of Romanticism.  I’d always been captivated by the deep and creative spiritual vision in his poetry and art, but I felt that Blake was too hard-headed to simply be a flaky mystic dreamer, in the way he can sometimes be dismissed.  The work of a number of Blake specialists, including Donald Ault and Matthew Green, suggested there was more to Blake and Enlightenment than opposition and I was keen to trace how this intellectual side emerged through the structures of meaning in his art and poetry.

2) How did you come to choose apotheosis (in Samuel Johnson’s words, ‘Deification; the rite of adding any one to the number of the gods’) as your key point of focus in the book?

The original project, in the earliest days of the PhD was rather broad, looking at Blake and the idea of heroism.  As part of this, I was looking at the pair of ‘spiritual form’ paintings of William Pit and Horatio Nelson from the 1809 exhibition.  They were pretty bewildering, but I noted that the Descriptive Catalogue labelled them ‘grand apotheoses’.  I started tugging away at the key term ‘apotheosis’ and that became the end of the golden string that I spent many years unravelling.  I’d always been fascinated – albeit confused! – by Blake’s interest in transformations and his use of star imagery in his poetry and designs.  I felt I had discovered a context in which these began to make more sense.  The term’s many strands (art history, anthropology, classical culture, religion, political satire and so on) were particularly appealing, as they took me towards a focus which allowed me (hopefully) to do justice Blake as an artist who gleefully capered across disciplinary boundaries.

3) What for you are the most important insights that we can gain from seeing Blake as actively engaged with Enlightenment, as opposed to ‘an exemplary Romantic opponent’?

Blake can be a bit straightjacketed by the label ‘Romantic’, so I hoped that this approach might make room for a lively, different sort of Blake to wriggle out.  The book hopefully allows us to situate Blake’s hermeneutics and myth-making historically.  While rather unBlakean in resisting the embrace of Eternity, this helps to show how his poetry and art could have been more meaningful to his contemporaries and it shows how his model of ‘contraries’ in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is fundamental to the ways in which he conceived of his creativity.

4) You contend that ‘Blake came ultimately to give precedence to mythopoesis over critical thought’.  How do you conceptualise Blake’s early position on this issue?  Do you see his movement towards mythopoesis as happening in a relatively smooth manner across his artistic career, or was his engagement with Enlightenment and myth (as expressed in his works) more complex and conflicted?

To me, there always seem to be two key features at play in his work, one partaking of Enlightenment scepticism towards myths of power, the other celebrating myth as a powerful mode of collective vision.  Approaching Blake’s visionary imagination in a dynamic relationship with Enlightenment critical approaches allowed me to sketch out shifts in his thought over his career, with his later works representing something of a recovery from his pronounced radical scepticism of the mid-to-late 1790s, albeit still attacking institutions of state repression and deploying that critical impulse productively to enable creative, utopian imaginings.  Some of his annotations from the 1780s and early 1790s suggest he saw himself as a sort of philosophe and the later works are clearly more emphatically Christian, but rather than there being a linear progression, these identities seem to rub along together in different permutations throughout his career.  I’d go for ‘complex and conflicted’…

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

I’m gleaning grains of information about the lively world of eighteenth-century and Romantic publishing, working on my next monograph which is on literary sociability, production, and booksellers’ shops from about 1740 to 1840.  I’ve also co-edited a special issue of Romanticism with Jon Shears on Romanticism and Ageing, which will appear in 2018.  I have an essay on Caleb Williams in the pipeline for William Godwin: Forms, Fears, Futures, which should be out in 2018 too.  There will undoubtedly be a few essays on Blake, too, developing material which has been sparked off by writing the book.

The BARS Review, No. 50 (Autumn 2017)

George Cruikshank, ‘Death or Liberty!’ (1819). ©Trustees of the British Museum. Used under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

The Editors, led from this number forward by Mark Sandy, are pleased to announce the publication of the 50th number of The BARS Review, the eighth available in full online through the new website.  The list of contents below includes links to the html versions of the fifteen 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 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: Mark Sandy (Durham University)
General Editors: Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton), Susan Oliver (University of Essex) & Nicola J. Watson (Open University)
Technical Editor: Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow)


Reviews

Neil Ramsey and Gillian Russell, eds., Tracing War in British Enlightenment and Romantic Culture
E. J. Clery
Timothy Campbell, Historical Style: Fashion and the New Mode of History, 1740–1830
Jane Taylor
J. A. Downie, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Eighteenth-Century Novel
Natasha Simonova
Joseph Rezek, London and the Making of Provincial Literature: Aesthetics and the Transatlantic Book Trade
Jon Mee
[Robert Southey], Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, ed. Carol Bolton
Diego Saglia
Kristina Mendicino, Prophecies of Language: The Confusion of Tongues in German Romanticism
James Vigus
Lisa Ottum and Seth T. Reno, eds, Wordsworth and the Green Romantics: Affect and Ecology in the Nineteenth Century
Viona Au Yeung
Tabish Khair and Johan Höglund, eds., Transnational and Postcolonial Vampires: Dark Blood
Carly Stevenson
Ruth Livesey, Writing the Stage Coach Nation: Locality on the Move in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
Christopher Donaldson
Peter Garside and Karen O’Brien, eds., The Oxford History of the Novel in English: Volume 2: English and British Fiction 1750-1820
Yi-cheng Weng
Daniel Cook and Nicholas Seager, eds., The Afterlives of Eighteenth-Century Fiction
Rachel Sulich

Spotlight: Rethinking Liberty in the Romantic Era

Jon Mee, Print, Publicity, and Popular Radicalism in the 1790s: The Laurel of Liberty
John Bugg
Fiona Price, Reinventing Liberty: Nation, Commerce and the Historical Novel from Walpole to Scott
Simon Edwards
Daniel M. Stout, Corporate Romanticism: Liberalism, Justice, and the Novel
Alexander Dick
Jennifer Orr, Literary Networks and Dissenting Print Culture in Romantic-Period Ireland
Bridget Keegan

BARS Chawton House Travel Bursary

All scholars working on Romantic-Period women’s writing are invited to apply for the 2018 BARS Chawton House Travel Bursary.  The BARS Executive Committee has established this award in order to help fund expenses incurred through travel to, and accommodation near, Chawton House Library in Hampshire, up to a maximum of £500.

The names of recipients will be announced on the BARS and Chawton House Library websites and social media.  Successful applicants will be asked to submit a short report to the BARS Executive Committee and Chawton House Library Trustees within four weeks of the completion of the research trip and to acknowledge BARS and Chawton House Library in resulting publications.  Successful applicants must be members of BARS before taking up the award: see How to Join.

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

  • Your full name and institutional affiliation (if any).
  • The working title and a short abstract or summary of your current project.
  • Brief description of the research to be undertaken at Chawton House Library.
  • Estimated costing of proposed research trip.
  • Estimated travel dates.
  • Name of one referee (with email address) to whom application can be made for a supporting reference on your behalf.
  • Name and contact details (including email address and Twitter handle) of whomever updates your departmental website or social media, if known. And your Twitter handle, if applicable.

Applications should be directed to the BARS bursaries officer, Dr Daniel Cook (d.p.cook@dundee.ac.uk) at the University of Dundee.  The deadline for applications is February 1st in any given year.  Informal enquires about the Chawton House Library collection and this scheme can be directed to Dr Gillian Dow (G.Dow@soton.ac.uk).

For more information about Chawton House Library, including access to the online catalogue, see https://chawtonhouse.org.

Five Questions: Beatrice Turner on Romantic Childhood, Romantic Heirs

Beatrice Turner is Research Facilitator in the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton.  She completed her undergraduate education and Master’s degree at Victoria University of Wellington before moving to the UK to pursue a doctorate at Newcastle University.  She is broadly interested in Romantic afterlives and periodicity, and has worked on nineteenth-century children’s literature, the Godwin-Shelley circle and the Coleridge family; the latter two threads come together in her first monograph, Romantic Childhood, Romantic Heirs: Reproduction and Retrospection, 1820-1850, which was recently published by Palgrave Macmillan and which we discuss below.

1) How did you first become interested in the children of canonical Romantic-period writers?

Quite a few years ago now, my Master’s supervisor at Victoria University of Wellington, Harry Ricketts, read me Hartley Coleridge’s sonnet ‘Long Time a Child’.  I can’t remember what we were talking about – probably Swallows and Amazons, and definitely not Romantic poetry – but the line ‘For I have lost the race I never ran’ seized me absolutely.  It seemed to express a complexly doubled feeling about being entered into something unconsciously, or without having a choice, and about failure being a form of both resistance and of capitulation, which I found very powerful.  I set out to read more, and found again and again in Hartley’s poetry this compelling idea of the child who is both literally and literarily produced by his father: he feels simultaneously a flesh-and-blood child and a text, something birthed in a poem.  I’d have called myself someone who was interested in children’s literature, if anything, up until then, but when I decided I wanted to do a PhD, I found I couldn’t get Hartley’s poems out of my head.  So Hartley was the starting point, but from there it made sense to turn to his sister Sara, and other children of Romantic authors.  What I found was that Hartley’s not unique but emblematic, as I say in the introduction: that doubly-born feeling recurs in the work of all four authors I wrote about, and the reproductive failure it triggers seemed to resonate across the period.

2) What do you feel are the most important things that we can learn about the period between 1820 and 1850 by studying it as an age of ‘writing back’, characterised, at least for the biological children of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Godwin, by ‘cultural, aesthetic, and intellectual disruption’?

‘Writing back’ is what I came to call the move, which I see in all four children’s work, to look back towards their fathers and to reckon with their textual selves as produced by those author-fathers.  It’s a term that for me helped articulate the sense of productive or reproductive failure all four children register in their own writing and some extent in their cultural moment at large.  It’s this failure which I think brings the period into view as a period, with its own distinctive anxieties.  I spent a long time going back and forth with Palgrave (sorry Ben!) about the title because I wanted both ‘reproduction’ and ‘retrospection’ in there (which is also how I ended up with a rather unintentionally alliterative title): to me, those two terms are particularly useful for thinking about the decades between 1820 and 1850.  It’s a period defined in many ways by looking back, assessing, memorialising (this is one reason why biography and history and reviewing culture are so prominent) – but also by the problem of reproduction, by this anxiety of inheritance.  What can you create when you yourself are a hybrid production of a set of discourses which are intensely invested in childhood?  I think this anxiety registers across the period, not just in the work of the four children, from Hazlitt’s concern in The Spirit of the Age that there’s no-one capable of climbing the monuments left by previous generations, to Shelley’s sense that the ‘age of theory and enthusiasm’ has given way to a more cautious and less optimistic one of ‘facts and practicabilities’.  Writing back, then, is the mode in which such anxieties might be articulated, and a way of registering the felt gap  – or disruption – between the two generations.

3) To what extent do you think that there were general modes through which the Romantic heirs you consider engaged with the writings of their fathers, and to what extent were their responses distinctly individual?

One of the things that unites the four children is their strong resistance to being reified into symbols by their fathers’ texts and by Romantic-era discourses of childhood and creative production, so it feels particularly unfair of me say that the reason I chose to focus on the four is because of what they represent.  All four are doubly born – both as their fathers’ children, and as their fathers’ texts.  I think we can use their predicament, and their responses, to read this wider moment.  In that sense, all four are working in a similar mode, and asking versions of the same question: whether what I’m crudely calling the Romantic inheritance was one that allowed its children the space or the material for their own creative authority.  The conclusion reached by Hartley, Sara, Shelley, and Godwin Jr was that it didn’t, that aesthetically and psychically fulfilling production (whether as an author or a parent) was not possible if you were a child of Romanticism and its various discourses.  But it’s also true to say that each reaches this conclusion through different generic and formal modes, and sometimes to different ideological ends.  All four textualise their own lives to some extent, but only Hartley explicitly and self-consciously writes autobiographically, and I think this is because Hartley is so directly taken into and produced by his father’s verse – responding in kind, as the child-text STC creates, is almost the only option.  Sara achieves her most powerful readings of her father by a kind of stealth, through her work as his editor, while her maternal poetry, in which she speaks with raw feeling and sometimes something like malice, remained largely unpublished and possibly unread in her lifetime.  Shelley and Godwin Jr are both novelists, rather than poets (I do think there’s something interesting in the way both sets of siblings followed their fathers’ preferred formal modes), but they are also working to uncover different things.  Hartley and Sara’s labour I read as being to uncover the ways in which a form of childhood which is presented as entirely natural is actually produced through artifice and subject to stringent cultural surveillance.  Shelley and Godwin, however, are concerned with showing how the Godwinian idea of family relations which are entirely and self-consciously culturally constructed runs into its own generative dead-end, producing increasingly deformed and sterile versions of family feeling.

4) Mary Shelley is well-known as a writer in her own right, but Hartley Coleridge, Sara Coleridge and (perhaps especially) William Godwin Junior are less familiar even to educated modern readers.  Which of their works would you particularly recommend to those interested in exploring them?

It’s hard to restrict myself to just a few – I think all three deserve to be much more widely read!  Hartley’s sonnets are really beautiful.  He’s the master of the overlooked, the miniature, the apparently inconsequential, and the feelings that can hide within an idle thought or a glimpsed object.  The messier and more complex the emotion he’s working with, the more formally neat and gem-like the sonnet.  ‘Long Time a Child’ is the most anthologised, but ‘Let me not deem that I was made in vain’ is probably my favourite: it works through a clever sequence of negative statements and images to construct a self-portrait defined by absence or negative space, and is quietly heartbreaking.

Sara’s work is becoming more widely-read I think, thanks in most part to Peter Swaab’s excellent selections of her poetry and criticism, as well as recent monographs by Alan Vardy and Jeffrey Barbeau, to which my chapter’s indebted.  A lot of her poetry (unpublished in her lifetime for fairly obvious reasons!) is about profoundly ambivalent maternal feelings, and I think poems like ‘To Herbert and Edith’ and ‘To a Little Invisible Being’ offer a useful corrective to the ‘angel of the hearth’ narrative of nineteenth century motherhood: Sara is precise about the physical, emotional, and creative sacrifice attendant on mothering a Romantic child.  I’d also recommend her introductory essay to the 1847 Biographia Literaria as a fascinating, clear-eyed assessment of her father’s power as a thinker and failure as an author.

As for Godwin Jr, I think all Romanticists, and especially anyone working on the Godwin-Shelley circle, should read his short story ‘The Executioner’.  It’s a gothic psychodrama about a man who’s tricked into executing his biological father by an evil foster-father (a barely-disguised Godwin).  It’d be worth reading anyway as an astonishingly raw expression of Godwin Jr’s sense he doesn’t belong in the Godwin family and as a version of the family romance fantasy, but it’s also a skilful psychological narrative.

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

Right now I’m combining my interest in Romantic ideas about childhood with my love of pop music, writing an essay for a volume on Romanticism and David Bowie along with Matt Sangster, Jo Taylor, and Emily Bernhard Jackson.  I’ve also gone back to Godwin, and I’m thinking about how he felt about owning, gifting, and borrowing books, and the way they can function as affective objects, in the context of his frankly baffling ‘Essay on Sepulchres’.  That’s for an essay collection which I’m co-editing with Eliza O’Brien and Helen Stark, called New Approaches to William Godwin: Forms, Fears, Futures.  Thinking about Godwin and books and feelings is a sort of precursor to my next big project, which is about the relationship between literary biography and literary criticism in that same in-betweeny 1810 – 1840ish period – there’s obviously something in me which is drawn to the definitionally awkward and the marginal!

The BARS First Book Prize 2017: Judges’ Report

This round, we had 19 nominations from publishers and BARS members, 12 from UK presses, the remainder from USA and Canada. As judges, we were really impressed by the high quality of the work submitted, which says a lot about the flourishing state of Romantic Studies. There was a lot of animated discussion and argument before the panel made its final decisions. Although it was hard work, we got a lot of pleasure from reading these books. Congratulations to all concerned, especially to the winner and runners up!

– Nigel Leask (Chair) (Glasgow); Nicola J. Watson (Open University); Anthony Mandal (Cardiff); Helen Stark (QMUL)

 

WINNER

Julia S. Carlson, Romantic Marks and Measures: Wordsworth’s Poetry in Fields of Print (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

julia-s-carlson-romantic-marks-and-measures

Romantic Marks and Measures is a rich and evocative work of scholarship, building on a variety of historical materials ­­– maps, travel guides, elocutionary and prosodic studies, and literary works – to argue the case for a cartopoetic reading of Wordsworth’s poetry and his adoption of blank verse as a turning point (in particular, in the Lyrical Ballads, The Excursion and The Prelude). As well offering a fresh reading of Wordsworth’s punctuation, metrics and poetic revisions, both in print and manuscript, the book is also distinguished by its learned account of transformations in Romantic period cartography. Its two main sections are cleverly bridged by an interchapter that makes the case for a new perceptual turn grounded in marks and measures, which in turn is shown to be an informing presence in Wordsworth’s poetics. A final chapter on Thelwall’s elocutionary work casts new light on his ‘therapoetics’ and his critique of the ‘measure’ of Wordsworth’s Excursion. This is an impressive debut and a strong contribution to interdisciplinary studies, displaying prosodic and interpretative rigour in reading Wordsworth’s ‘lines and points’. As well as a major intervention in Wordsworth studies, Romantic Marks and Measures really has the potential to redefine our sense of ‘natural’ representation, both in the field of topography, and in Romantic prosody and print culture.

 

RUNNERS UP

Siobhan Carroll, An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonized Space in the British Imagination, 1750-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).

Siobhan Carroll - An Empire of Air and Water

An Empire of Air and Water is a tour de force of interdisciplinary excavation and remapping, which stakes new ground for the Romantic imaginary by drawing together a range of eclectic literary sources and putting them into dialogue with wider cultural projects during the Romantic Century. Carroll’s book examines the presence of ‘atopias’ – spaces which resist categorisation, habitation and conceptualisation: these are polar regions, the oceans, the atmosphere and subterranean spaces. Each of the core chapters offers a nuanced and intriguing piece of a wider puzzle that collects around the British imperial project and its various technologies (as well as those of its competitors). These atopias function variously in extending the Romantic imagination upwards and outwards, while also resisting human endeavour through its evocation of a gothic past that always lurks beneath the surface. Carroll includes readings of numerous literary works, by Mary Shelley, Byron, Thomas De Quincey, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Inchbald, Sophia Lee, and a number of lesser-known writers.

 

Devin Griffiths, The Age of Analogy: Science and Literature Between the Darwins (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

devin-griffiths-the-age-of-analogy

Via a highly theorized discussion of analogy, Devin Griffiths seeks to place a new ‘comparative historicism’ at the heart of literary and scientific studies in the century between Erasmus Darwin and his grandson Charles.  Although only about half of the book actually focuses on Romantic period writings, it makes renews our sense of the importance of Romantic narrative and methodological influences on Victorian literature and science. A theoretical introduction reviews the current state of literature and science studies, including a persuasive discussion of analogy in the work of Bruno Latour, Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Badiou. The main argument is set up via an illuminating study of the poetry of Erasmus Darwin, unduly neglected in Romantic Studies. A chapter on Walter Scott contains original research on ‘popular antiquarianism’ and ballad collecting, as well as reviewing the role of Scott’s novels in developing ideas of historical analogy in nineteenth-century literature. Two chapters are devoted to Tennyson and George Eliot, and a closing chapter on Charles Darwin (with a highly original focus on his Orchid book) identifies selective adaptation as a form of ‘harmonious’ analogy. Clearly written and full of critical flair, Griffiths’ ambitious book harvests a decade’s worth of reading and scholarship, and will have a major impact on both Romantic and Victorian studies. It also reinvigorates our sense of the relationship between the ‘two cultures’ of literature and science in the long nineteenth century.

Call for Expressions of Interest: BARS European Engagement Fellow

The British Association for Romantic Studies is pleased to announce that it is funding a new fellowship, the BARS European Engagement Fellow. The Fellow will be expected to work part-time on Project RÊVE, the core activity of the newly formed ERA (European Romanticisms in Association). ERA brings together scholarly associations, archives and heritage organizations across Europe with common interests in long Romanticism to work together on the European dimensions of Romanticism. RÊVE (Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition) is designed in the first instance as a series of monthly blogposts devoted to iconic Romantic objects and places which exemplify some transnational aspect of Romanticism in Europe.  Its ambition is to feature 100 objects, eventually housing them in a searchable database set up as a virtual museum. Launched in July 2017, the first six blogposts for RÊVE can be accessed here: http://www.euromanticism.org

The Fellowship is suitable for a doctoral or post-doctoral candidate. It will be held over six months in the first instance, starting from 1 January 2018 and running until 1 July 2018. It will be paid monthly at an hourly rate of £15.00 and will entail on average 10 hours of work per month.  Any travel expenses will also be covered. Tasks will include:

  1. Correspondence with identified contributors across Europe to commission and collect RÊVE blog-posts
  2. Editing and uploading blog-posts
  3. Publicising RÊVE by increasing its profile online, through social media, and through conferences
  4. Managing and developing the ERA website, in particular adding links to other organizations and events, and information on ERA conferences
  5. Helping with and attending ERA/RÊVE events as and when they arise.

There is also the opportunity to become a contributor to RÊVE. The Fellow will be co-opted, initially for 6 months from 1 January 2018, onto the BARS Executive with a brief to help expand the current BARS initiative to develop new European links. S/he will be expected to work with the project director, Professor Nicola Watson of the Open University (nicola.watson@open.ac.uk).

We are looking for someone with energy and enthusiasm, proven research interests in any aspect of Romantic culture, the ability to manage and use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress), some familiarity with or willingness to learn about managing and developing websites, and excellent communication and organizational skills. It would be an advantage to bring at least one other European language beyond English. In return we are offering an unusual opportunity to work within a Europe-wide network of universities and museums on a new idea, the virtual, transnational museum.

Please send a letter expressing your interest and describing your research, skills and experience, supported by a one-page curriculum vitae to Professor Nicola Watson at nicola.watson@open.ac.uk by 11 December 2017.

Five Questions: 2017 BARS First Book Prize Winner Julia S. Carlson on Romantic Marks and Measures

julia-s-carlson-romantic-marks-and-measures

 

Julia S. Carlson, the winner of the 2017 BARS First Book Prize, is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati.  She completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and her graduate degrees at the University of Michigan.  She has published numerous essays on Romantic poetry, poetics, cartographies and sensation; is a member of the Multigraph Collective, co-authors of the forthcoming Interacting with Print: Elements of Reading in an Era of Print Saturation, 1700-1900 (University of Chicago Press, 2017); and is one of the co-editors of Romanticism on the NetShe received the First Book Prize for Romantic Marks and Measures: Wordsworth’s Poetry in Fields of Print (Penn Press, 2016), which we discuss below.

1) How did you begin the research that led you to write this book?

My research on this project began after a Comparative Literature seminar in which we read Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard and the poems of Emily Dickinson followed by a facing-page edition of Wordsworth’s Prelude, a sequence which primed me to observe typographic and topographic differences between the 1805 and 1850 texts.  Why the abundance of dashes and near absence of exclamation marks in the Norton 1805 Prelude, so clearly belied by the original manuscripts, I wondered?  Why the late twentieth-century editorial resistance to the mark of passion, and what contemporary ideas and practices shaped Wordsworth’s marking?  To explore this question, I went deep into the stacks of Harlan Hatcher Library to read surprisingly animated disputes among grammarians, elocutionists, and rhetoricians on the use and significance of the “wondering point,” the “blank line,” and other “Typographical Figures of Speech.”  I was interested, too, in the poem’s self-reflexivity: its thematics of marking and attention and its vocabulary of mark, point, spot, line, and trace—terms used to signal places in the landscape and accent the growth of the poet’s mind.  Particularly evident in the episode of crossing the Simplon Pass, these terms for geometric and cartographic symbols made me wonder how the Alps were rendered in period maps and why they’d been neglected in the criticism.  This led me to the Map Library, with its then panoramic view of the streets, squares, and houses of Ann Arbor, where, with the help of librarian Karl Eric Longstreth, I stood gazing at maps of Switzerland published between 1768 and 1844, struck by the radical shifts in symbol, style, and perspective with which they construed the rivers, roads, and slopes that meet in the narrow confines of the Pass.

2) Your book positions Wordsworth’s poetry ‘within a matrix of inscriptional projects not traditionally considered to be part of the Romantic canon: the charting of terrain and the notating of language by cartographers, elocutionists, prosodists, and the writers of tours and guidebooks.’  What for you are most significant insights into Wordsworth’s poetry that this positioning reveals, and what do you think are the most important things we can learn about the galaxies of topography and typography that you examine through relating them to Wordsworthian verse?

The notational lexicon Wordsworth uses in composition and revision puts his poems in dialogue with and differentiates them from contemporary visual and verbal grammars, with implications for our understanding of poetic language and form.  For example, Wordsworth’s reflexive use of line and point in The Prelude, which registers the scientific, ideological, and aesthetic interests of the Ordnance Survey of Britain, reveals tensions and affinities between the experimental project of epic autobiography and the new cartographic portrait of the nation.  Thus we see that the ostensibly more natural language by which Wordsworth’s attempts to inscribe feeling and place is inflected by a technical semiotics, and conversely, that that the retention of hill portraiture in the first series of topographical maps of England and Wales—its expressive pictorialism —is indebted to the Wordsworthian aesthetics of Ruskin and Arnold.

Poems and maps were highly interactive and formally reinforcing.  In another context, that of picturesque tours and guidebooks, short excerpts of long blank verse poems intended to bring nature “closer to the eye” were published side-by-side with increasingly large-scale charts and outline views of mountain ranges, and also within complex itineraries.  My critical cartopoetics reveals that what we’ve come to know as Wordsworthian “nature lyric” is not a phenomenon of consciousness that transcends the function of pointing to the landscape, as Geoffrey Hartman has argued.  Short blank verse nature poems were formalized in dynamic relation to other line systems, such as surveying and hill portraiture, and within specific indexical and diagrammatic contexts that heightened attention to the marks and measures of landscape and cultivated the interpretation, and correlation, of heterogeneous scales and views.

The poems’ formalization in the context of sign systems that tried to graph speech patterns—elocutionary punctuation—is revealed in subtle effects such as the double-long dashes that Wordsworth began to use in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads.  Considered historically, the marks indicate Wordsworth’s experimentation with elocutionary punctuation and his thematic development of elocutionary concerns within the poems.  Not merely signs of suspenseful pause or the silent passage of time, however, the marks are iconographic as well—tracings in the print medium of the “finger of mortality” (“The Brothers,” 126) that has scored the landscape.  As such, they offer countermappings of place, controlling the reader’s movement through the poems and enhancing her affective response to a landscape conventionally, and less meaningfully, marked in the picturesque guidebooks the poems indict.  Wordsworth’s reflexive handling of the long dash across the blank verse of the book shows how what Richard Payne Knight called “blank and unmark’d metre” is hardly such, but depends upon a complex interplay of spatiotemporal marks that engage the acoustic and visual imaginations of readers.  What we learn, therefore, about the “galaxies of topography and typography” is that they become, in the period, more interrelated as they strive to be both more systematic and more expressive in their encoding of the national language and landscape.  They were related aspects of a diagrammatic and accentual turn in British culture that produced new forms of the spatial and temporal organization of print, new kinds of literacy, and new modes of feeling.

3) How did you come to decide on the final structure for your book, with three chapters focusing on the burgeoning of cartographic practices pivoting around a transitional interchapter into four further chapters on the marking of language within a thriving print culture?

The topographical and typographical systems through which I was reading Wordsworth are intertwined in his poetry, so it was tempting to consider them together in each chapter.  Ultimately, I thought this would make for too dense a narrative, so I explored the graphic representation of landscape in the first half of the book and the graphic representation of speech in the second; the interchapter articulates the two, foregrounding the many connections between them in the culture and in Wordsworth’s verse.

4) To what extent does your study focus on Wordsworth because he was a poet particularly alive to marks and measures, and to what extent might the approach you take in your book be extended to other poets or literary writers of the period?

Wordsworth, the poet who founded his verse on the “plainer and more emphatic language” spoken by rustics who were in daily communication with the enduring objects of nature, was more deeply invested in marking and measuring both landscape and speech than any of his contemporaries.  That said, the book also discusses other writers—Coleridge, theorist of punctuation and of “mingled measures”; Southey—poet of experimental meters; Thelwall—teacher of elocution and radical prosodist.  There are other poets too for whom the marking of speech on the page is a matter of self-reflexive reference: Byron in Don Juan for one.

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

I’m co-editing a collection for Cambridge with Sally Bushell and Damian Walford Davies called Romantic Cartographies. I’m also co-editing a special issue of Essays in Romanticism on historical poetics with David Ruderman and Ewan Jones.  And my new monograph project is Reading with the Hands: Impression and Inscription in Romantic-Era Britain, which explores, among other things, the development of tactile print systems for the blind.

Expanded Wordsworth Trust Fellowship Scheme

BARS is very pleased to announce that it is expanding its Fellowship scheme in partnership with the Wordsworth Trust so that two early career scholars will have the chance to develop their skills while in residence for a month in Grasmere during the coming academic year.  Please see below for details of how to apply.

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BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship 2017

We would like to invite Early Career Researchers who are not in permanent employment to apply for a one-month residential Fellowship with the Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere. The Trust is centred around Dove Cottage, the Wordsworths’ home between 1799 and 1808, where Wordsworth wrote most of his greatest poetry and Dorothy wrote her Grasmere journals. Dove Cottage opened to visitors in 1891, and the Trust celebrated the 125th anniversary of the first day of opening on 27th July 2016. The first museum opened in 1935, coinciding with the bequest of the Wordsworth family archive to the Trust from Gordon Graham Wordsworth. The Trust collection has grown to 65,000 books, manuscripts and works of art, but at its heart remains the manuscript poetry, prose and letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. The Trust is embarking on an exciting new HLF-funded project leading up to the commemoration of Wordsworth’s 250th birthday on 7 April 2020. It is an audience driven project, seeking to raise awareness and change public perceptions of Wordsworth’s life and work. It will seek to re-imagine his life, his works and his relevance for today. The project will see onsite developments, such as the redesigning and extension of the present museum, alongside an extensive programme of engagement and activities within Cumbria and beyond. The Trust will be seeking to diversify existing audiences, and extend current work promoting the wellbeing agenda. In other words, actively making Wordsworth’s work accessible and continuing his own wish to see it help people ‘to see, to think and feel’.

We welcome submissions from applicants whose research interests will help the Trust to re-imagine Wordsworth. This is an opportunity to become familiar with existing audience engagement work (both onsite and offsite, gaining experience of duties that are audience related) and then creating a plan for an activity that will engage new audiences. This can be for an audience of your choice and will use the collections to stimulate an interest and develop understanding of the poet’s work. You will receive advice and training from the Curatorial and Learning team, led by Jeff Cowton (Curator and Head of Learning). The activity can be based in the gallery, to be delivered within a workshop setting, or online – or whatever you think works best for the audience in question. There will also be opportunities to develop your own research.

The Fellowship provides on-site self-catering accommodation for one month; we would prefer the internship to take place between November and February but this is negotiable. The Fellowship also provides £100 towards travel expenses. All applicants must be members of BARS.

Application procedure: on one side of A4, provide your name, email contact details, institutional affiliation (if relevant), current employment status, a brief biographical note, a description of your PhD thesis, details of the proposed research and audience based activity, and preferred period of residence (from November 2017). The successful applicant will demonstrate an enthusiasm for audience engagement and learning as well as research, combined in initial ideas for their proposed project. Send the application as an attached Word file to Jeff Cowton and Daniel Cook (J.Cowton@wordsworth.org.uk and d.p.cook@dundee.ac.uk) no later than 30 September 2017. The successful candidate will be informed within two weeks.

Keats-Shelley Association of America Postcard Caption Contest

(Please see below for an announcement of a Romantics-focussed caption competition being run by the Keats-Shelley Association of America.)

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What would Mary Shelley quip about Romanticism, scholarship, or the current state of the world?  Now is your chance to riff in the Keats-Shelley Association’s caption contest for its new series of informational postcards.  Please help us create the picture caption for our first postcard, featuring Mary Shelley, which will be distributed at various conferences and Romantics 200 events.  In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive “captioned by” credit on the back of that K-SAA postcard.  With John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and others to be featured on cards to come, there will be several opportunities for you to participate.

Don’t be the last person to submit your caption! Entries limited to 140 characters.  Send to our Twitter (@KSAAcomm), Facebook (Keats-Shelley Association of America), or email (info@K-SAA.org) by June 26th.  All are welcome to submit and encouraged to disseminate widely.

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 www.ucsl-scotland.com/members.

Successful applicants must be members of BARS before taking up the award (to join please visit www.bars.ac.uk).  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 (d.p.cook@dundee.ac.uk) 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).