News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Matthew Sangster

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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.

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 ( and 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.)


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 ( 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

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).

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

Book Announcement: Coleridge and Contemplation

Congratulations to Peter Cheyne and his contributors on the forthcoming Coleridge and Contemplation collection, which Peter describes below.  BARS helped to support a workshop that was part of the book’s development process.

Book announcement: Peter Cheyne (ed.), Coleridge and Contemplation, OUP, 2017

A collection of essays on Coleridge’s contemplative philosophy written by philosophers, intellectual historians, and leading literary authorities on Coleridge.


The editor and authors of Coleridge and Contemplation would like to thank BARS for a grant that assisted a workshop at the University of Cambridge English Faculty, 10–11 August, 2015. The workshop enabled contributing authors of Coleridge and Contemplation to present their research so that internal connections within the overall work could be better understood and developed.

Sarah Hutton, Graham Davidson, and Matthew Gibson were present as auditors, providing the authors with keen interrogations and constructive criticism. Further reviews of papers as they developed into book chapters were provided by romanticists Anthony J. Harding and Alan P. R. Gregory, philosopher Stephen Priest, and the two anonymous Coleridge scholars arranged by OUP.

The book is now available for order, and Oxford University Press have provided a 30% discount code, AAFLY6G, which can be used at the OUP webpage for the book. The remainder of this report is a description of the four parts of the book—I. Poetics and Aesthetics; II. Worldviews: Science, Ethics, and Politics; III. Metaphysics; and IV. Philosophy of Religion—and of its foreword by Mary Warnock.



In her discursive foreword Mary Warnock addresses:

  • the search for meaning and truth ‘in poetry [where the] symbolic or interpretative capacity is sharpened and concentrated’;
  • whether or not we should consider Coleridge as a philosopher;
  • how Coleridge’s theory of ‘Ideas’ as objective realities distances his thinking from Kant’s;
  • the related question of whether his recourse to faith constitutes a relinquishment of philosophy, or is ‘a continuation rather than an abandonment of Reason’.


Part I: Poetics and Aesthetics

Jim Mays’ essay follows the ascent from the technical understanding of a poem and its processes, toward a sense of ‘spiritual contemplation’. Slow-reading a short Coleridge poem, ‘First Advent of Love’, written later in life, and representing lifelong concerns, Mays adopts Adorno’s argument that technique is the way art thinks, to describe the kind of meditation involved in both reading and writing the poem. He contrasts this kind of meditation with the different, analytical process involved in Coleridge’s prose writing. He reveals how in ‘First Advent’ feelings adjust through a web of sounds, images, and allusions (to neo-Platonic ideas about love mediated through Renaissance and contemporary German authors). Inquiry into what is most important in the poem involves the matter of how the poem works: a matter of ‘Understanding’. Mays then looks to higher, numinous qualities in the poem that go beyond the understanding, and are properly imaginative in terms of Coleridge’s diagram of the ‘Order of the Mental Powers’, mediating between ‘Understanding’ and ‘Reason’ in terms of enérgeia, the topic of my own essay.

David E. Cooper’s essay, ‘Meditation on the Move’, relates a mode of meditation with walking in natural environments. This mode is identified by drawing on texts from Coleridge, Bashō, Rousseau, and Thoreau. The style of meditation is a spontaneous, supple and responsive mindfulness of the world through which one moves. The connection is noted between this style of meditation, in which Coleridge too engaged, and the ‘rambling’ or ‘wandering’ kind of thinking encouraged by the Daoist master, Zhuangzi. Relevant considerations of why walking in natural environments seems to be especially conducive to such meditation include rhythmic calm, and an ‘unselfing’ whereby, as Coleridge puts, it, ‘individuality is lost’ when immersed in the environments through which one walks. Finally, Cooper argues that meditation on the move is hospitable to certain conceptions of reality. In particular, it encourages a sense of the world as an integral whole that comes to presence for walkers as a mysterious ‘gift’.

James Kirwan examines Coleridge’s analysis of beauty in the ‘Principles of Genial Criticism’ (1814), which aimed to establish a religious dimension to aesthetic experience. Coleridge’s argument is traced through his Kantian account of aesthetic judgement, and his assertion of unity-in-multiplicity as the formal condition of beauty, to his grounding beauty in that which is ‘pre-configured’ to our faculties. Coleridge’s depends on eighteenth-century aesthetic axioms, despite deliberately avoiding explicit reference to such accounts, electing Plotinus instead as a precursor. Coleridge is therefore reluctant, Kirwan suggests, to explain aesthetic experience in purely psychological and, potentially, exclusively naturalistic terms. The appeal to Plotinus’s traditional notion of beauty as the soul’s recognition of its divine origin, grounds aesthetic experience in religion. Concomitantly, in Coleridge’s reassertion of the claims of religion in the wake of the Enlightenment, aesthetic experience as contemplation of the world as it is becomes proof of the existence of the divine.

Kathleen Wheeler reads Dewey’s Art as Experience as steeped in Coleridge, a constant reference throughout this foundational pragmatist aesthetics. Indeed Dewey said he found ‘spiritual emancipation’ in Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection, calling it ‘my first Bible’ (qtd John Beer Aids to Reflection cxxv). Coleridge’s account of perception as active and creative––not passively receptive, gave Dewey profound insight into human experience, and helped him articulate his philosophy of ‘art as experience’ whereby art originates in imaginative ordinary life. For Coleridge, ‘act’ and ‘activity’ ground both mind and matter in the same natural powers of production/ creation: ‘a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I am’. Dewey’s analogy between the error of separating art from ordinary life, and divorcing imaginativeness from ordinary perception shows how memories of prior acts of imaginative perception usurp the place of actual acts, as dead metaphors do in language.

Roger Scruton reflects on Coleridge’s famous fancy–imagination distinction, which inspired Scruton’s own distinction between fantasy and imagination. The continuing relevance of Coleridge’s distinction lies in recognizing imagination as essentially truth-directed. Importantly, we can venture into the unreal with two quite different intentions––to become lost there, or to find ourselves. We can see the unreal world as a place of escape, fulfilling dreams in cost-free ways that set up channels of reward which so often lead to addiction and psychological enslavement (as in pornography). Or, we can see the world of the unreal as an imaginative construct for deeper epistemological purposes, to know through sympathy the varieties of human life, as life that could be ours. Scruton reserves the term ‘imagination’ for this second approach. This imaginary is the unreal called to judgment by the real, in contrast with the pretence of reality in clichéd, sentimental, or kitsch fantasy.


Part II: Worldviews: Science, Ethics, and Politics

David Knight begins the section on Coleridge’s contemplative worldviews, and chronologically follows Coleridge’s lifetime fascination with medicine as its focus shifted from anatomy, the analysis of structures, towards physiology, elucidating the processes of life. He believed that all sciences should progress from a static to a dynamic world-view, making them worthy of contemplation, feeding Reason rather than just understanding. Through Thomas Beddoes in Bristol he met young Humphry Davy, whose dynamical researches on laughing gas and electrochemistry delighted him. Coleridge became a critic of science as well as literature, rejoicing as Davy isolated new metals, cast light on acidity, and invented the miners’ safety lamp. But after 1820 Davy turned haughty, and Coleridge deplored chemists’ empire-building as science became a professional career; while in medicine French materialism threatened the dynamic vitalism of John Hunter that Coleridge and his host James Gillman favoured. Sadly science, once so promising, looked decreasingly suitable for his kind of philosophical contemplation.

Philip Aherne examines Coleridge’s influence in Cambridge through the nineteenth century, especially as it affected the development of a philosophy he opposed, utilitarianism. Aherne accepts Skorupski’s (1993) assessment of Coleridge as an important precursor of British idealism, finding his philosophy a particular blend of German transcendentalism, Platonic creeds, and Christian ethics representing a distinct school in its own terms. His contemporary significance was undoubtedly influential. In 1890, James Martineau argued for Coleridge’s influence in British philosophy through the nineteenth century, claiming that ‘his Platonic gospel has passed in the heart of our generation’ and declared that ‘empirical psychology and utilitarian ethics are the permanent objects of Coleridge’s hostility’. Martineau was extending Mill’s dichotomous paradigm of Bentham versus Coleridge. Aherne, however, questions the stability of this opposition, claiming that Mill’s development of Utilitarian ethics depended on Coleridge’s epistemological distinction between Reason and Understanding.

Kaz Oishi assesses contemplation in Coleridge’s philanthropic thought in the 1810s. Even after his disillusionment with the French Revolution, he remained preoccupied with welfare issues such as destitution and the condition of labourers. His new stance towards national ‘well-being’ emphasizes the contemplative power of the human mind both in religious and secular spheres. Oishi describes how Coleridge developed it in response to Robert Owen’s welfare and educational programmes as manifested in New View of Society (1813). Coleridge’s The Statesman’s Manual (1816) and A Lay Sermon (1817) can be read as a critique of Owen’s secular and empiricist notion of philanthropy. It is also significant that this contemplative ideal of ‘well-being’ serves as an antithesis to the Utilitarian concept of wealth under a laissez-faire economy. Coleridge’s contemplation as ‘a total act of the soul’ distinguishes itself as a unique politico-religious virtue in the context of the 1810s.

Andy Hamilton assesses Coleridge’s place in conservative and liberal traditions of thought. In the decades after his death, Coleridge was regarded as a conservative. Mill saw him as a ‘Tory philosopher’; he viewed Coleridgean conservatism as some have seen Burke’s, as a Second––not Counter––Enlightenment view. Burke does not figure as a conservative in Mill’s discussion. However, late nineteenth-century constructors of an ideology of English conservatism preferred to appeal to Burke’s scepticism about reason, while Coleridge’s philosophical prestige was waning. Coleridge’s affiliation with Continental-style ‘rational conservatism’ is also assessed. Competing conceptions of reason condition his rationalism. The picture is similar when one considers the relation between his conservatism and his radicalism. With every major conservative thinker––Burke, Coleridge, Oakeshott––this question of progressiveness versus conservatism arises.


Part III: Metaphysics

Peter Cheyne’s essay discusses Coleridge’s ‘Order of the Mental Powers’ (OMP) in the context of what he identifies as the energic–energetic distinction. The OMP diagram is used to show Coleridge as a two-levels theorist, with the higher and lower levels capable of participation across a fundamental difference. Coleridge is thus a thinker communicating the dynamics of thought within an overarching concern for the ‘energies of Reason’. The restless, flowing, and challenging quality of his writings is therefore balanced by, and subordinated to, the higher level of intellection that he held as a spiritual conatus straining towards ultimate ends and meaningful values. In this two-level theory, energetic desire, pleasure, psychological forces of association, and the ‘mechanical’ understanding operate more naturally on the lower level, while the higher understanding, imagination, and ‘Positive Reason’ work within the enérgeia of free will in the higher mind.

Dillon Struwig presents Coleridge as a two-levels theorist of the innate powers of mind, arguing that Coleridge distinguishes (1) a transcendental, Kantian sense of the a priori, consisting in the principles of human discursive cognition (comparable to Plato’s dianoia), from (2) a noetic, Platonic a priori, consisting in the principles of intellectual intuition (or ēsis, an intuitive cognition that apprehends ontological, theological, and ethical truths). Drawing on Logic and Opus Maximum, Struwig demonstrates that Coleridge takes Kantian a priori principles to be ‘subjectively real’ principles of cognition dependent upon the cognitive constitution of finite subjects, whereas Platonic a priori principles are for Coleridge ‘objectively real’ principles of cognition (and of being) that are dependent upon ‘the transcendent and unindividual’ reason (i.e. God, ‘the absolute Self, Spirit, or Mind’). This two-levels theory is framed in terms of Coleridge’s Kantian ‘threefold division’ of the human cognitive capacities into sense, understanding, and reason, and their respective a priori operations and contents.

Cristina Flores explores the influence of Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth’s philosophical system on Coleridge’s notion of contemplation. Coleridge studied Cudworth’s True Intellectual System early in his career, from 1795 to 1797, before his acquaintance with German thought. Flores contends that Coleridge’s theory of contemplative experience has an initial basis in the Cambridge Platonist’s ontological and epistemological tenets. Coleridge’s conversation poems, written during his perusal of Cudworth’s magnum opus, lay the groundwork for a metaphysical theory of contemplation. In these, which he called ‘Meditative Poems in Blank Verse’, Coleridge dramatizes meditative experience as he conceived it at this early stage of his career. Flores establishes a comparison between Coleridge’s early view of contemplative experience, and the related ‘Order of the Mental Powers’ in considering the influence of Cudworth’s philosophical tenets in Coleridge’s Platonist foundations.

Douglas Hedley takes as his theme the deep roots in the Platonic tradition of Coleridge’s view of contemplation as the experience of nóēsis, for Plato the highest form of epistēmē, being the knowledge of ‘Ideas’ beyond dianoia (discursive and conceptual understanding). Coleridge’s theory of the symbol only makes sense within this metaphysical-theological context. Plotinus’s decisive contribution within Coleridge’s metaphysics is often overlooked. Contemplation, for Plotinus, is connected to Gift. Contemplation is always a return to the ‘Giving’ of the One (rooted in Plato’s ‘unbegrudging’ Goodness of the demiurge, Timaeus 29), and this process of gift and return is mirrored throughout different levels of reality. Like the Cambridge Platonists before him, Coleridge furnished this contemplative return with a Trinitarian articulation. Coleridge’s own contemplative theology is especially inspired by the revival of neo-Platonism in German idealism.

James Engell concludes the section on metaphysics with a comprehensive and illuminating treatment of Coleridge’s philosophy as it incorporates what Engell sees as a series of processes, beings, and relations that are contemplative and yet, most fundamentally, active. Giving central place to the ‘originating Act of self affirmation’, which has profound implications for Coleridge’s religious views as well as for his philosophic thought, this essay considers Coleridge’s metaphysics and his philosophy of religion as one. Coleridge holds that the Act links philosophy and religion so that they are inseparable. Moreover, his insistence on a series of related acts, on agency, as central to religious and philosophical thought has implications for his emphasis on the Will and the Trinity, as well as for his principle of the Logos and what he calls the ‘Dynamic Philosophy’ and its ‘polar logic’.  In this manner he may be seen as a modified Platonist, yet also something of a pragmatist, and a trinitarian Christian.


Part IV: Philosophy of Religion

Coleridge tells us that religion passes beyond the ken, the horizon, of reason, with faith its continuation. Michael McGhee reflects on Coleridge’s illuminating metaphor of twilight, night, and the starry heavens to see how the experiential forms it draws on can affect our understanding of terms like ‘reason’ and ‘faith’. Tentatively suppressing the face value acceptance of those terms, McGhee concentrates on the metaphor and the experience, to see where they lead without the leash of orthodox doctrine controlling the interpretation. Preserving ‘the Soul steady and concentered in its Trance of inward Adoration’ is the crucial experience. Twilight stealing into darkness and into night suggests progressing stillness, its associated concentration opening up a real prospect, the starry heavens, ordinarily concealed by the light of day and quotidian clamour. McGhee then reflects on Buddhist meditational traditions, where concentration or samadhi is as a condition of awakening, seeing things as they are, and this is associated with ‘compassion’ or karuna.

Noriko Naohara explores Coleridgean contemplation as ‘an inward Beholding having a similar relation to the Intelligible or Spiritual, as sense has to the Material or Phenomenal’. Though the development of his religious thinking involves much conflict between rationalism and faith, Coleridge retained Christian spirituality and this definition of Reason indicates his confidence about the human mind intuiting God as spiritual substance. His idea of language is similar to St Augustine’s, and he thinks that human speech could denote the divine Word as Augustine shows in The Trinity. He suggests that the generative process of human language is guided by the Will longing for redemption by Christ. Reason will return towards God supported by the aspiring Will that would move towards the divine Word, or Reason in its objective sense. His theology is that of waiting on God and it shows us a significant guide to faith in a post-Kantian era.

Suzanne Webster concentrates on Coleridge’s theological reflections, especially those of his final years. She finds in Coleridge’s notebooks and other key works, including the Theory of Life and Aids to Reflection, generally consistent results in his efforts to define, desynonymize, and establish the ‘Order of the Mental Powers’. By 1830, with regard to the human being on earth (or the earthly human ‘Personal Identity’), he had filled out his perception of the order of these powers in the context of what he called the ‘triple Ichheit’. Regarding Coleridge’s thought about the origins of contemplative acts and their processes, Webster’s essay explores the ‘Order of the Mental Powers’ as Coleridge saw them within the contexts of the triple Ichheit. She further explains how this ordering related to Coleridge’s thoughts on God, the hypostases of the Trinity, and the relationships between Will, Reason, and Faith.

Gerald Janzen’s essay, ‘Notebook 55 as Contemplative Coda to Coleridge’s Work and Life’, is fittingly the final essay in the volume. This essay construes Coleridge’s last Notebook (March–April 1834, which he titled, ‘Faith, Prayer, Meditation’) as the coda to his work and life, on analogy with the concluding lines to Biographia Literaria and to Opus Maximum Fragment 2, lines likewise taken as codas to their respective works. Building on Mays’ characterization of Coleridge’s ‘poetry of the affections’, and on his identification of the arc of Coleridge’s life as arising within the bosom of his father’s so-called ‘simple’ faith, navigating ‘strange seas of thought’, and coming home at the end to his own (more complicated) simplicity, Janzen argues that one ‘Clew’ to Notebook 55 as coda to his work and life lies in the place the affections enjoy in Coleridge’s notebooks of 1827–34, whose entries most deeply constitute exercises in contemplation.


Research Society for Victorian Periodicals: Forthcoming Awards

Print-culturally focused Romanticists might be interested to know that January the 31st is the closing date for two of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals’ major awards – the Peterson Fellowship for original individual research on aspects of Victorian periodical literature, and the Field Building Award for collaborative research.  Details of the awards can be found at the Society’s web site:

The BARS First Book Prize 2017


The British Association for Romantic Studies

is delighted to announce

The British Association for Romantic Studies First Book Prize, 2017

Awarded biennially for the best first monograph in Romantic Studies, this prize is open to first monographs published between January 2015 and January 2017.  In keeping with the remit of the British Association for Romantic Studies, it is designed to encourage and recognise original, ground-breaking and interdisciplinary work in the literature and culture of the period 1780-1830.  The prize will be awarded to the value of £250 and will be presented at the BARS biennial conference, ‘Romantic Improvement’, to be held at the University of York in July 2017.

Eligibility and nomination procedures

The competition is open to scholarly monographs by authors who have not published a monograph before.  Books must be nominated through the BARS membership.  Nominations should attest to the importance of the book within the field, detailing its particular strengths and describing the nature of its original contribution.  They should be no longer than one side of A4 in length.  Please send nominations to the Secretary of BARS, Helen Stark (, by the closing date, January 31, 2017.  The BARS Executive will provide the panel of judges, which will be chaired by Professor Nigel Leask, University of Glasgow.



Editorial Transitions

Over the past few years, BARS has begun to conduct a lot more of its activities online – as well as the website, we now have this active blog, the BARS Exchange, The BARS Review and our social media accounts on Twitter (which I co-run with Dan Cook) and Facebook.

Keeping all of these things updated at this point is a rather bigger job than it was when I originally took up the position of Website Editor, so the Executive has decided to appoint a second person to edit the blog so that I can work on improving our (somewhat ancient) main website and continue enhancing the Review.  From this point forward, therefore, Anna Mercer – who you’ll already know from the long-running series of On This Day posts that she’s curated – will be taking over the editorship here.  She’ll now be the first point of contact for submitting material for posting and for conference reports, as well as for On This Day.  She’s been a joy to work with over the past year, so I’m very glad to be placing the blog in an extremely capable pair of hands.

I’ll still pop up here occasionally and will keep editing the Five Questions series for the moment, but over the next few months, I’ll be turning my attention to the main site in order to try and make this a better resource for the association.  If anyone has suggestions about things that they’d like to see as part of an updated site, I’d be very grateful to hear these.

Five Questions: Emma Peacocke on Romanticism and the Museum


Emma Peacocke is currently a Banting Post Doctoral Fellow at Queen’s University, Ontario.  Before moving to Queen’s, she completed her PhD at Carleton University.  She has published articles and book chapters that examine historiography, circulation, periodical culture, collecting and visual culture and that deal with figures as diverse as Walter Scott, William Paley, William Buckland and Thomas Moore.  Her first monograph, Romanticism and the Museum, which draws together many of these interests and which we discuss below, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

1) How did you come to decide that you wanted to write a monograph on museums in the Romantic period?

It happened in a coup de foudre as I was reading The Wanderer, Frances Burney’s final novel, published in 1814.  The heroine, Juliet, is fleeing in disguise from her forced marriage to a murderous Jacobin ruffian, so you can imagine how anxious she is throughout the novel.  Near the climactic showdown, her eccentric elderly protector Sir Jaspar Harrington decides on a whim to pass Juliet off as his grandchildren’s new nursemaid and have her shown all around the glorious art collection at Wilton.  Juliet feels so harried and miserable that she has almost lost the will to live – she is in a “torpid state” of “morbid insensibility.”  However, one object is so powerful that it can reawaken Juliet to herself and even to a moment’s pleasure: the “fascinating picture” by Van Dyck of Charles I and his family, with its “extraordinary attraction.”  One chapter later, the experience of seeing an artwork indoors, in a very museum-like setting, is paralleled with wandering among the stupendous and sublime ruins of Stonehenge.  It turned my idea of what Romanticism is and what Romantic authors valued on their head.

Lots of historians and art historians, including Linda Colley, read the eighteenth-century stately homes that opened their doors to the general public as precursors to, or stand-ins for, public museums, so looking at the proto-museums and newly minted public museums of the Romantic era suddenly seemed like a very promising way to see something new in Romantic literature.  Carol Duncan’s Civilizing Rituals has a very powerful passage comparing art museums with the ambulatories of medieval cathedrals, pathways that pilgrims could follow to gain a closer understanding and bond with figures like Christ.  This really strengthened my decision to write about museums in the Romantic period – it’s such an eloquent testimony to their significance and puissance.

2) How did you select the four case studies (Wordsworth’s Prelude, Scott’s Waverley, Edgeworth’s Harrington and the discourse around the Elgin Marbles) which form the cores of your chapters?

It sometimes felt as though they chose me!  I was reading Ormond, by Maria Edgeworth, because I wanted an Irish Tale to read on my first trip to Ireland, and so I was originally going to write on Ormond rather than Harrington.  There’s an extraordinary scene in Ormond in front of the now lost portrait of Marie Antoinette by Gautier-Dagoty; the eponymous hero’s Anglo-Irish identity suddenly comes becomes completely clear to him, as his reactions to the portrait differ so markedly from his French friends’ more demonstrative response.  Edgeworth wrote these two novels as companion pieces, when her father was dying and was desperate to see just one more work of his daughter’s in print, and she needed to come up with enough text to fill three volumes.  I only read Harrington in the first place to do my due diligence about Ormond, but it completely captivated me and it is even more about scenes of representation, display, and the national imaginary than Ormond.  So it seems a bit serendipitous – but it also testifies to the ubiquity of museums and galleries in Romantic writing.

I always knew that I would need to write on the discourse around the Elgin Marbles, because the Marbles sparked the largest museum-based controversy of the Romantic period.  I think that it set the terms for centuries to come on questions of provenance and the ethics of museum acquisitions.  That chapter felt the hardest to structure, because it was really led by the topic, whereas all the other ones had been led by the texts whose settings had complexities and nuances that I wanted to tease out.  Keats’s “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles” is among the greatest of ekphrastic poems – but despite its clear relevance, I didn’t spend very much time on it, because I didn’t have much to say to amplify its meanings.  Of course, just a few weeks ago, when I was teaching this poem, I found myself saying that perhaps Keats simply physically couldn’t describe the statues in great detail; the Elgin Marbles had attracted one of the earliest crowds to visit the British Museum, and perhaps he and Haydon had trouble getting and remaining close enough to the sculptures to support a traditional ekphrasis.  There’s always room for new insights!

3) Did you find that museums principally served as useful foci for discussions of particular concerns, or did they serve as flexible metaphors, easily repurposed by different auditors?

In each text that I wrote about, the museum becomes the place where authors represent the nation to itself.  That is the major concern for which the museum provides the ideal locus; however, each author and each text easily repurpose the museum to talk about a different aspect of that representation, and they often focus on a different aspect of the museum, too.  Scott uses portraiture and changes in the nature of gallery display to talk about the nation’s history and the profound differences between past and present.  Horace Smith imagines the Parthenon’s statues in the British Museum coming to life; while overtly they are talking about defamation in Classical Athens, it’s quite clear that Smith has the ancient statues uttering a veiled critique of the current British press.

I think that Wordsworth may have been most invested in how his readers – or the “auditors” of his poetry – could repurpose his museum settings and images.  Wordsworth loves writing about art display during the French revolution because he can powerfully testify to how utterly the Revolution changed everything, but doesn’t have to commit himself to saying whether the changes are largely for good or ill.  Wordsworth’s narrator has a rapturous moment like a pre-Revolutionary Grand Tourist in front of Charles Le Brun’s Penitent Magdalene before the painting was nationalized – as his auditors, we aren’t sure if Wordsworth would like to turn the clock back on the French Revolution, or whether he is delighted that the painting has become accessible to more and more people.  Byron, by contrast, comes out swinging against George IV in Don Juan, saying that even his fossilized remains will seem so monstrously large as to be inhuman to museum-goers in the distant future.  There’s no way that Byron wants to exploit the way that auditors could repurpose museum-based metaphors.

4) To what extent did the literary and visual forms in which writers addressed museums change the ways in which they were employed and represented?

You raise a really good point here.  I wonder if there wasn’t often a bit of a time lag between the most highbrow of Romantic visual arts and Romantic literature.  My theory is that authors wanted to refer to an accepted canon of taste, so that when they invoked a work of art, its significance would be stable and well-established to readers.  For instance, in Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, Barbauld write that “Reynolds [shall] be what Raphael was before” – yet Sir Joshua Reynolds, the brilliant founder of the Royal Academy, had been dead since 1792.  Most of the artworks that my authors place in their texts date from previous generations, from Periclean Athens through the Renaissance and the 17th and 18th centuries.

As for the literary forms of Romanticism itself, it was an age that married wonderful periodical essays on art with the nascent form of the guidebook.  William Hazlitt’s Sketches of the Principal Picture-Galleries in England began as a series of articles in the London Magazine; the critic generally dedicated one essay to each gallery, which seems like a practical way to keep up with print deadlines.  Hazlitt then published his essays in collected form as a book. Its organization makes it very convenient for gallery-goers, who can consult the relevant chapter for that gallery. By contrast, George Walker’s Descriptive Catalogue of a Choice Assemblage of Original Pictures (1807) gives all kinds of valuable information about various paintings – but doesn’t organize them at all geographically or by collection.  Hazlitt’s Sketches have a kind of user-friendliness that makes seeing, understanding, and studying the artworks in museums seem less daunting.  That change in representation is quite closely linked to the literary form of the Romantic periodical.

I’m going to leave it to another scholar to talk about the new literary and visual forms in William Blake’s work!  House museums, like the Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton, are very common commemorations of Romantic authors.  Blake, however, made his family home at 28 Broad St. into a museum during his lifetime, holding an exhibition of his own watercolour and tempera paintings there in 1809.  Someone really ought to write a study on Blake and Romantic museums.

5) What new research projects are you presently working on?

My present project is on Romanticism and the University.  One can never have too many institutions of education in one’s life!  University reform was a huge topic for Romantic periodicals like the Edinburgh Review from about 1808 onward, and the colleges of the University of London were founded in 1826, so it’s an era of great introspection and change.  There’s also extraordinary figures like Thomas Campbell, a highly popular poet who became a magazine editor, a popular lecturer, a founder of the University of London and Rector of the University of Glasgow.

Another part of my project is to look at undergraduate writing from Romantic universities.  The poems that students wrote for prizes, like the Newdigate Prize, were highly valued; when a commercial press collected and printed them, they sold like hotcakes and went swiftly into a revised second edition, but that is a whole tranche of acclaimed poetry that we don’t really look at today.  Jeffrey Cox, in Romanticism in the Shadow of War, is the only scholar whom I know of who analyses any of these poems at all.  I’m also looking at student-run periodicals; the University of Edinburgh had an imitation of Blackwood’s that is often, in my opinion, much funnier than the original, and even contains an article about better ways to find cadavers for the medical school, years before the nefarious activities of Burke and Hare came to light.

My study also takes in universities as, rather like museums, being the sites of pilgrimage.  I focus on the Shelley Memorial at University College, Oxford, and the story it tells us about the poet’s reception history.  It’s delightful to be able to keep a strong visual and architectural component in my work!

Call for Participants: Institutions of Literature, 1700-1900

Please see below for a call for participants for a series of workshops exploring eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary institutions.  These form part of an AHRC-funded network (‘Institutions of Literature, 1700-1900’) that I’m running with Jon Mee.  If you’re a scholar working in this area, or a curator working with eighteenth- or nineteenth-century collections, we’d love to hear from you.  The network also has its own site, on which further details can be found.

The AHRC-funded ‘Institutions of Literature, 1700-1900’ research network is pleased to invite expressions of interest from scholars working on the histories and practices of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century institutions and from stakeholders and curators who work in surviving institutions originating from this period.  During 2017, the network will run workshops in Glasgow, London and York and conduct a series of online discussions in order to explore collaboratively the ways in which the literary institutions of this era arose and operated.  The network will also consider the ongoing consequences of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century institutional practices and interventions for twenty-first-century institutions.

Between 1700 and 1900, institutions came to play integral roles in literary culture: teaching people how to value writing; providing sites for discussion and networks for circulation; serving as archival repositories; raising and disbursing money; inventing new genres; distributing laurels and condemnations; and authoring works and conducting readings.  However, these important mediations have hitherto been underexplored, in large part due to the scale of institutions’ operations.  Institutional histories tend to be more difficult to map than the histories of prominent individuals.  They commonly involve numerous agents, span multiple generations and rely on archives that are often incomplete, extremely extensive, or both.  To help to negotiate this complexity, the network will bring together scholars and institutional stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines to explore the ways in which different institutions mediated literature.  Through doing so, it will seek to trace collaboratively common practices and ideologies.

The network’s three workshops will each take as a theme a major way of understanding institutional practices.  The first, ‘Institutions as Curators’, will be held at the Hunterian Museum’s new premises at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow on the 31st of March and the 1st of April 2017.  This workshop will explore the changing manners in which institutions have conceived of and organised both disciplinary knowledge and physical collections.  The second, ‘Institutions as Networks’, will be held at the Society of Antiquaries in London on the 13th and 14th of July 2017.  This meeting will examine how institutions have served to connect and organise groups of people and things, considering the hierarchies that inhere in such arrangements and the points of connection between different clusters and ideals.  The final workshop, ‘Institutions as Actors’, will be held at King’s Manor, York in December 2017.  This concluding event will examine institutional identities, looking at how ideas and practices embed themselves and considering the points at which institutions themselves – as opposed to their officers and stakeholders – become perceived to be capable of performing actions.

Each workshop will feature a combination of papers from participants, roundtable discussions and more open sessions designed to facilitate the sharing of perspectives and expertise.  The funding kindly provided by the AHRC will allow us to keep the workshops free of charge for all participants and will let us provide travel and accommodation for the speakers at each event.

If you are interested in being involved with the network’s discussions, please email an expression of interest to Matthew Sangster, Jon Mee and Jenny Buckley at  Please include your name, affiliation(s) (if applicable), a brief biographical statement (of around 100 words) and a short description of the institutions and topics in which you are currently most interested (around 250 words).  Please also indicate whether you would like to give a twenty-minute paper on your work at one of the workshops, or whether you would rather speak as part of a roundtable discussion or another kind of collaborative session.

The deadline for submitting expressions of interest is Monday December 19th; we’ll get back to you swiftly after this date.