BARS Blog

BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Matthew Sangster

All posts by Matthew Sangster

2019 BARS First Book Prize Shortlist Announced

The judges for the 2019 BARS First Book prize, chaired by Professor Claire Connolly, are delighted to announce a shortlist of four exceptional books, drawn from a strong list of initial submissions:

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors!

The winner of the prize will be announced at BARS’ 16th International Conference, ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’, at the University of Nottingham in late July.

BARS 2019: Romantic Facts and Fantasies – Registration Open

Please see below for a notice from the organisers of BARS 2019 giving more information about the fantastic range of activities they’ve arranged and providing details about registration, accommodation and bursaries.

BARS 2019: Romantic Facts and Fantasies

The BARS 2019 Conference Organising Committee are pleased to announce that registration for BARS 2019: Romantic Facts and Fantasies is now open. For more information and online registration please visit https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/conference/fac-arts/english/romantic-studies/index.aspx

The registration fee includes the opening evening reception and informal dinner on Thursday, a BBQ on Friday, and buffet lunch daily as well as unlimited refreshments available all day at the conference centre (tea, coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, mineral water, biscuits and fresh fruit). Free parking is available on site. Delegates will have free access to the state-of-the-art gym and 25m swimming pool at the University of Nottingham’s new David Ross Sports Village. Other facilities including a climbing wall and squash and badminton courts can also be pre-booked for a small charge.

The conference dinner on Saturday is optional and may be booked at the time of registration, together with a selection of optional excursions on Saturday afternoon (see below).

We hope to release a limited number of single-day tickets in due course, as numbers permit.

Accommodation

Choose from ensuite rooms in either Rutland Hall of Residence or The DeVeres Orchards Hotel.

Membership of BARS

To participate in BARS 2019, you must be a member of the British Association for Romantic Studies. If you are not already a member, please purchase your subscription via the online shop when you register for the conference.

Optional Excursions

·         Derby City Museum and Art Gallery & Pickfords House

·         Newstead Abbey

·         Kedleston Hall

·         Walk to Wollaton Park with tour of Natural History and Industrial Museums (FREE)

·         BARS Exhibition Lakeside Arts Romantic Facts and Fantasies: Culture and Heritage of the Romantic Age (FREE)

Bursaries

The Early Bird rate for PhD/unwaged delegates has been heavily subsidised by BARS and the School of English, University of Nottingham in order to support postgraduate and early career scholars to attend and present their work. We hope to offer some additional bursaries at a later date, depending on numbers and finances, but cannot guarantee that we will be in a position to do so. More information will be made available by 1 July 2019.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you at BARS 2019!

Seeking a Postgraduate Representative to Join the BARS Executive – Deadline February 28th

Supporting postgraduates and early career researchers has always been an important part of the remit of the British Association for Romantic Studies.  We are currently looking for a postgraduate student willing to join the Executive in order to represent our postgraduate members and students in the field more generally.

The Postgraduate Representative serves for a term of two years (renewable according to the status of their studies – often, people go on to serve as Early Career Representative).  During their term, they will attend four Executive meetings and have the opportunity to co-organise special postgraduate events at the BARS International Conferences.  They will also work with the current postgraduate representative, Paul Stephens, to organise the next biennial Early Career and Postgraduate Conference, due to be held in 2020 and announced later this year.

The position offers valuable experience of conference organisation, together with excellent networking opportunities.  Most importantly, it offers the chance to help shape the Romantic Studies postgraduate community by feeding in to the Executive’s discussions and launching new initiatives to support postgraduates in the field.  The post is unpaid, but any travel expenses incurred are met by the Association.

Eligibility: We are especially keen to receive applications from students who expect to have postgraduate status until the summer of 2021, although this is not required.  The new representative will officially stand for election at the next International Conference, Romantic Facts and Fantasies, which takes place at the University of Nottingham between the 25th and the 28th of July 2019.

Please send expressions of interest, together with a one-page CV including a brief description of your research, to the Secretary of the Association, Jennifer Orr, copying in the President, Ian Haywood.  The deadline for expressions of interest is the 28th of February 2019; applications will be considered at the next Executive meeting in March.

If you would like to discuss the position further, please feel free to get in touch with Paul, who will be happy to talk about what the position entails.

BARS 2019 Open Call Sessions

The accepted open call sessions for BARS’ 2019 International Conference, themed around Romantic Facts and Fantasies, have now been published on the main conference page on the University of Nottingham website.  Details can be accessed using the links below; abstracts should be sent to the named organiser for consideration.

The deadline for submitting proposals for these sessions is 28th January 2019.  The deadline for the submission of panels and individual papers is 17th December 2018.

Call for Papers: BARS 2019 – Romantic Facts and Fantasies

BARS 2019: Romantic Facts and Fantasies

 

Proposals are invited for the 2019 conference of the British Association for Romantic Studies, to be hosted by the School of English, University of Nottingham, from 25-28th July. Our theme is ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’.

We look forward to welcoming you to the East Midlands, where the historic city of Nottingham is located among the heartlands of British Romanticism. Newstead Abbey was Byron’s ancestral home; Sherwood Forest was re-imagined as the meeting place of Richard I and Robin Hood in Scott’s Ivanhoe; and the Cromford Mills are a living monument to Richard Arkwright, whose inventive development of spinning mills and power looms was an integral strand of the Industrial Revolution. This conference will explore the potency of ‘fact’ and fantasy’ both in the Romantic period and during the afterlife of Romanticism. The aim is to develop a collective understanding of how Romantic ‘fact’ and ‘fantasy’ work together and against one another, and in so doing embody the spirit of an age whose inventions and innovations laid the foundations for modernity while simultaneously exulting the power of the imagination and its creations.

Keynote speakers for Romantic Facts and Fantasies are Laura Mandell (Texas A&M), Robert Poole (UCLAN), Sharon Ruston (Lancaster), Diego Saglia (Parma), and Jane Stabler (St Andrews).

We encourage proposals for open-call sessions and themed panels as well as individual proposals for 20-minute papers. Subjects covered might include (but are not limited to):

Bicentenaries 1819-2019: The Peterloo Massacre; the ‘Six Acts’, the Carlsbad Decrees; the birth of Queen Victoria; Stamford Raffles and the foundation of Singapore; Simon Bolivar’s victory at Boyacá; the Panic of 1819; the opening of the Burlington Arcade, London; the Cotton Mills Act; the death of James Watt;  Keats’s odes; Scott’s Ivanhoe, Bride of Lammermoor, and A Legend of Montrose; the final volume of Southey’s History of Brazil; Blake’s ‘Ghost of a Flea’ (1819/20).

Factual and fantastical encounters and dialogues: travel narratives; poetry of encounter; translations; colonial discourses; geologies, geographies and aesthetics of landscape; rivers, canals, bridges and roads in material, commercial and imaginative landscapes.

Facts and fantasies of collective and individual identity: Romantic provincialism (the Lunar Society, the Lake School); national identity and ideas of the state; religion; ethnography; Romantic life writing and autobiography; Romantic-period economics, consumerism, industry and agriculture; Romantic facts and fantasies of childhood; Romantic experiments in education; Rousseauism.

The scientific imaginary: Mary and Percy Shelley; Humphry Davy, poet and scientist; the development and legacies of Romantic science fiction; Erasmus Darwin, the Lunar Society and Joseph Wright of Derby; Malthus and Malthusianism.

Imagining the Romantic world: Keats’s ‘living year’; plagiarism and originality; the professional imagination in Keats, Davy, Blake, Caroline Herschel and William Herschel; pedagogic and didactic poetry, prose and drama; histories and history-writing, including the emergence of national histories; paintings, sculptures and music commemorating the events and ‘heroes’ of the Napoleonic wars, politics, industry and culture; architecture and Romantic fantasy (eg. Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey, and Joseph Gandy’s visualisations of the Bank of England and other buildings by John Soane); Romantic book illustration and developments in the technology of print.

Presentation formats

We welcome proposals for the following:

Individual 20 minute papers. Abstracts of no more than 250 words (excluding the title). Please include your name and institutional affiliation (if applicable).

Panels of either three 20 minute papers or four 15 minute papers. Please include an abstract of the panel theme, together with 250-word (excluding the title) proposals from each of the speakers, in a single document.

Open-call sessions. Proposals should include a 350-word (excluding the title) description of the potential session, outlining its importance and relevance to the conference theme. Accepted open-call sessions will be advertised on the BARS 2019 website from mid-November 2018.

Submissions

The deadline for proposals for open-call sessions is 1 November 2018.

The deadline for submissions of panels and individual papers is 17 December 2018.

Please email proposals to bars2019@nottingham.ac.uk.

For more information, please visit the BARS 2019 website.

Call for Papers: The 1820s: Innovation and Diffusion

Call for Papers

The 1820s: Innovation and Diffusion

University of Glasgow, 11th and 12th April 2019

Plenary Speakers: Ian Duncan (Berkeley) and Angela Esterhammer (Toronto)

The reign of George IV was a decade of profound transformations, during which technological, generic and ideological innovations opened up culture to unprecedentedly vast audiences, mandating the creation of new modes of communication and production, but also triggering fears about the loss of social cohesion and nostalgia for perceived lost identities.  By 1830, Samuel Taylor Coleridge felt empowered to contend that ‘Roads, canals, machinery, the press, the periodical and daily press [and] the might of public opinion’ had fundamentally reconfigured political and social discourse.

This international conference aims to produce a new understanding of the underappreciated innovations and diffusions that occurred during the 1820s.  Topics to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • The Spirit of the Age
  • Media, mediality and technology
  • The proliferation of institutions
  • Reform and reaction
  • Cultural mediators
  • Public(s) and audiences
  • Mobility

Abstracts of around 300 words for 20-minute papers should be sent to 1820sconference@gmail.com along with the proposer’s name, institutional affiliation (if any) and a short biographical note (50-100 words).

We also invite proposals for keywords for framing the 1820s suitable for a special session of 5-minute presentations employing a single slide.  Examples might include ‘Power’, ‘Speculation’, ‘Generation’, ‘Environment’, ‘Regulation’, ‘Genius’ and ‘Flash’.  Proposals should be submitted in the same manner as paper abstracts, but should be no more than 150 words and should include ‘Keyword Proposal’ in the subject line of the email.  Keyword proposals may be submitted either alone or with an abstract for a paper.

The submission deadline for both kinds of contribution is Friday November 30th 2018.

A key function of the conference is to catalyse a new edited collection.  In the year following the conference, there will be a pair of workshops in York and Glasgow at which invited authors will develop papers into chapters in conversation with other contributors.  Funding kindly provided by the Royal Society of Edinburgh will be available to support attendance at these workshops.

For a fuller version of this Call for Papers, along with further information on the conference and related events, please see our website: http://www.1820s.net.

Five Questions: David Higgins on British Romanticism, Climate Change, and the Anthropocene: Writing Tambora

David Higgins is Associate Professor in English Literature at the University of Leeds and Deputy Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute.  He has written widely on Romantic literature and culture, including the monographs Romantic Genius and the Literary Magazine and Romantic Englishness: Local, National, and Global Selves, 1780-1850 (which he has previously discussed on the BARS Blog).  Last year, he published two books: a co-edited collection (with Russell Goulbourne) entitled Jean-Jacques Rousseau and British Romanticism (Bloomsbury) and a monograph called British Romanticism, Climate Change, and the Anthropocene: Writing Tambora (Palgrave), which we discuss below.

1) How did you first become interested in the implications of the Tambora eruption?

I’m not sure where I first read about Tambora – perhaps in Jonathan Bate’s The Song of the Earth – but a few years ago I started thinking about the possibility of producing a kind of popular cultural history of the eruption and its effects in time for the bicentenary of the ‘Year without a Summer’ in 2016.  Through writing my monograph, Romantic Englishness, and working with some brilliant colleagues at Leeds, I had started to see myself as a researcher in the environmental humanities.  Tambora seemed a great case study for such an approach, as well as a potential springboard for public engagement work around culture and climate.

2) Why did you decide to write a short book specifically, and how was the experience of writing compared with that for your previous two monographs?

I ended up abandoning the cultural history, partly because I didn’t think that it would play to my strengths and partly because Gillen D’Arcy Wood beat me to it with his excellent 2014 book.  I decided instead to write a shorter book that, rather than simply telling the story of Tambora, would analyse it as a process in which material and discursive elements were profoundly intertwined.  I had started reading theoretical work on speculative realism/new materialism and realised that contemporary ideas about non-anthropocentric agency had a great deal to offer this project and the environmental humanities more broadly.  My case studies seemed to suit a shorter book and I felt that publishing with Palgrave Pivot would allow me to make a more urgent intervention than a longer monograph, as well as roughly coinciding with the bicentenary of the post-Tambora crisis.

The writing experience was very different from my previous research books.  My first was based on my PhD thesis.  It required a lot of primary research and was worked on quite intensively during the course of my PhD and then intermittently for a couple of years afterwards.  My second was a very slow burner as various other things intervened.  In contrast, I wrote this book in not much more than a year, largely during research leave kindly funded by my institution and then by the AHRC.  During this period, I also had some leadership responsibilities associated with the AHRC funding, which took up some time but also very much fed into to my research.  I hope that the resulting study seems timely rather than rushed, and reflects that I had been thinking about the book for a long time before having the chance to write it.

3) How did you come to select the three case studies on which your book focuses: the official narrative of the eruption compiled by the British administration in Java; the 1816 writings of Byron and the Shelleys; and political periodical writings regarding the ‘distresses’ of 1816 and 1817?

Including Byron and the Shelleys was an easy decision as I have a longstanding interest in their writings.  It also struck me that, although their 1816 works were often invoked in relation to Tambora, there was very little actual analysis of the complex ways in which they imagine environmental catastrophe.  Similarly, I noticed that the colonial narrative of the eruption was known as a key source for understanding how Tambora unfolded across the Indonesian archipelago, but nobody had paid any attention to its rhetorical construction of the catastrophe.  Finally, I felt that a chapter on political periodical writings offered a good way to address the impact of Tambora in Britain, as well as to explore the complex relationship between human and nonhuman agents that creates a supposedly ‘natural’ disaster.  I felt, too, that all the case studies would show the value of a close textual analysis of disaster narratives within the broader intellectual framework provided by the environmental humanities.  I have always tried in my work to bring canonical and non-canonical texts into close relationship, and without treating the latter as mere background or context.  The case studies, while manageable for a short book, offered a transnational and generic reach that I felt was vital for a project of this nature.

4) What for you are the most important kinds of insights that can be gleaned by using the lenses of climate change and the Anthropocene to view the art and culture of the Romantic period?

I am very aware of the dangers of ‘presentism’ and I would certainly resist the idea that the Romantic period speaks to us in any straightforward (or moralistic) way about climate change.  I also accept that the present-day environmental crisis may well require new ways of thinking.  However, understanding the Anthropocene as a kind of epistemological breach (as some thinkers do) risks dehistoricising environmental change and presenting it as the inevitable result of human ‘progress’, rather than as the result of a range of contingent factors over time.  As scholars such as Mike Hulme have shown, climate and culture have been understood as intertwined by many human societies.  I believe that understanding how the Romantics address the complex interactions of human and nonhuman agencies that create an environmental catastrophe can contribute to a better understanding of our current predicament.  This genealogical approach requires an attentiveness to the significant differences between then and now, as well as the similarities.

5) Now that this book is finished, what are you planning to work on next?

I’m currently involved in Landlines, an AHRC-funded collaboration between academics at Leeds, Sussex, and St Andrews to write a history of British nature writing over the last two centuries for Cambridge University Press.  We’re not offering a survey, but a pointed and (I hope) sophisticated account of nature writing as a complex literary form.  The project has also involved some very enjoyable public engagement, including a poll to discover the nation’s favourite nature books.  Increasingly, I am motivated as a researcher by the opportunity to engage with broader audiences and so I hope to develop some new impact collaborations around culture and climate over the next twelve months.  In the longer term, I’m planning a book on the relationship between philosophical pessimism and environmental thinking: a project that will take me well out of my Romantic-period comfort zone…

The BARS Review, No. 51 (Spring 2018)

William Blake, from A Small Book of Designs: The First Book of Urizen (1794). ©Trustees of the British Museum. Used under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

The Editors, led by Mark Sandy, are pleased to announce the publication of the 51st number of The BARS Review, the ninth available in full online through our open-access system.  The list of contents below includes links to the html versions of the twenty-one 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 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.  Mark Sandy would also be very happy to hear from people who would like to review for BARS.

Editor: Mark Sandy (Durham University)
General Editors: Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton), Susan Oliver (University of Essex) & Nicola J. Watson (Open University)
Technical Editor: Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow)

Table of Contents

Reviews

Dafydd Moore, ed., The International Companion to James Macpherson and The Poems of Ossian
Gerard Lee McKeever
Timothy Michael, British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason
Elias Greig
Robert Mayer, Walter Scott and Fame: Authors and Readers in the Romantic Age
Caroline McCracken-Flesher
Saree Makdisi, Reading William Blake
Katherine Fender
Claire Trévien, Satire, Prints and Theatricality in the French Revolution
Ian Haywood
Richard Lansdown, ed., Byron’s Letters and Journals. A New Selection
Gioia Angeletti
Brycchan Carey, ed., The Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano
John Bugg
Alan Rawes and Diego Saglia, eds., Byron and Italy
Maria Schoina
Lily Gurton-Wachter, Watchwords: Romanticism and the Poetics of Attention
Andrew Franta
E. J. Clery, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven: Poetry, Protest and Economic Crisis
Lisa Vargo
Beth Lau, ed., Jane Austen and Sciences of the Mind
Inger S. B. Brodey
E. J. Clery, Jane Austen, The Banker’s Sister
Claire Harman
Mark J. Bruhn, Wordsworth Before Coleridge: The Growth of the Poet’s Philosophical Mind, 1785-1797
Adam Potkay
Ewan James Jones, Coleridge and the Philosophy of Poetic Form and Michael Tomko, Beyond the Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Poetic Faith from Coleridge to Tolkien
Philip Aherne
Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe (eds.), Thinking through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century
Andrew Hodgson

Spotlight: Romantic Heirs and Inheritors

Juliet Shields, Nation and Migration: The Making of British Atlantic Literature, 1765-1835
Clare Elliott
Anahid Nersessian, Utopia, Limited: Romanticism and Adjustment
Christopher Geary
Andrew Burkett, Romantic Mediations: Media Theory and British Romanticism
Ralf Haekel
Beatrice Turner, Romantic Childhood, Romantic Heirs: Reproduction and Retrospection, 1820-1850
Malini Roy
Tom Mole, What the Victorians Made of Romanticism: Material Artifacts, Cultural Practices, and Reception History
Richard Cronin
Andrew Radford, Mary Butts and British Neo-Romanticism: The Enchantment of Place
Sam Wiseman

Whole Number

The BARS Review, No. 51 (Autumn 2018) – review compilation
The BARS Review Editors

BARS First Book Prize, 2017-19

The British Association for Romantic Studies

is delighted to announce the current round of

The British Association for Romantic Studies

First Book Prize, 2017-19

Awarded biennially for the best first monograph in Romantic Studies, this prize is open to first books published between 31 January 2017 and 1 January 2019. 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 c.1780-1830. The prize will be awarded to the value of £250 and will be presented at the BARS Biennial Conference, ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’, to be held at Nottingham University, 25-29 July 2019. Authors on the final shortlist will receive £100 each.

Eligibility and nomination procedures

The competition is open to books by authors who have not published a monograph before. Books must be nominated through the BARS membership or by publishers. Publishers should send books directly to the address below, while member nominations should include publisher contact details. In all cases, copies of nominated books must be received by the committee by the closing date, 31 January, 2019. Books received after this date are not eligible for consideration. 4 copies of each nominated book should be sent to Dr Daniel Cook, School of Humanities, University of Dundee, DD1 4HN.

Flyer Download: BARS First Book Prize Flyer 2017-19

Five Questions: Katie Garner on Romantic Women Writers and Arthurian Legend

Katie Garner is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of St Andrews.  She has published work on subjects as diverse as Angela Carter, Mary Wollstonecraft, liminality, feminism and children’s literature, but her core academic interest is in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Arthurianism, a subject on which she has published a number of articles and which lies at the heart of her first monograph, Romantic Women Writers and Arthurian Legend: The Quest for Knowledge (Palgrave), which we discuss below.

1) How did you first become interested in women’s responses to Arthurian legend in the Romantic period?

As part of a very flexible MA programme I took a module on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Arthurian literature.  We were given copies of Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s ‘A Legend of Tintagel Castle’ to look at alongside Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’ and I remember being surprised and excited to find out that a woman poet was writing a poem about the Maid of Ascalot at almost the same time as Tennyson.  After that I wrote my MA dissertation on Anne Bannerman’s Tales of Superstition and Chivalry (1802), which includes her Arthurian poem ‘The Prophecy of Merlin’.  I looked into some of the Arthurian texts that Bannerman cites in her notes to the poem, and which I didn’t know much at all about then: Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, and Evan Evans’s Some Specimens of the Poetry of the Ancient Welsh Bards.  The question surrounding women’s sources remains central to the book, which is based on my subsequent PhD.  Throughout the PhD I was most eager to find out how women accessed information about Arthur in practical terms, and through what channels of knowledge their interest in the myth was first piqued.  I also suspected that if Felicia Hemans and Landon had both written Arthurian poems, then it was likely that there were more, and I started to keep an annotated list of Arthurian items and allusions by women that had been missed by previous bibliographers.  Mary Russell Mitford, Caroline Norton, Eleanor Anne Porden, and Mary Howitt all wrote poems that draw on aspects of the legend in some way, and the book also covers Arthurian material in prose in women’s travel writing, fiction, and scholarship.

2) To what extent do you perceive distinct traditions of response to Arthurian legends that are peculiar to female readers and writers?

I have become more and more convinced that female readers and writers experienced the legend in different forms and contexts to their male contemporaries, and that this shaped their imaginative responses.  Women with Arthurian interests (or even more general antiquarian ones) were unable to access manuscripts in libraries or gain membership of antiquarian clubs as gentlemen could.  In the few cases where Arthurian texts were specially prepared for women readers, the texts they were offered were censored and curated by editors (male and female) looking to protect female readers from the legend’s violent and sexual content.  In the book I spend some time discussing two notable instances of this: an much abridged version of Percy’s Reliques, entitled Ancient Ballads (1807) that extracted a high proportion of Percy’s Arthurian poems, and an edition of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur from 1816, censored so that ‘it may no longer be secreted from the fair sex’.  When these bowdlerised editions are the main source for an Arthurian piece by a woman writer, the effects of textual alterations to the myth or added ambiguities made in the pursuit of an ‘improved’ text leave their mark, and aspects of women’s treatment of the legend that might seem original, imaginative, or just plain odd, start to emerge as interpretive traces of the compromised text that inspired it.

3) Your book spans chronologically from 1770 to 1850 – why did you select these dates in particular, and what would you identify as being the key phases in women’s writing about the Matter of Britain within this period?

The 1770s seem to be the point at which conversations about women reading medieval romances start up again with new energy, as part of the broader debate about women’s novel reading.  Many of these discussions take place in periodicals, but are deepened in works that engage more closely with medieval scholarship, such as Susannah Dobson’s Memoirs of Ancient Chivalry (1784) and Clara Reeve’s The Progress of Romance (1785).  Both Reeve and Dobson are thinking through the intellectual benefits of medieval romance reading for women, which includes the Arthurian romances.  There’s an acceleration in the amount of Arthurian material in women’s travel writing from the 1790s onwards, as women on the home tour explore Arthurian locations in Wales and Scotland, and interest is also evident in accounts of France before and after the Revolutionary wars.  Alongside this, the coexisting vogue for the Gothic in the 1790s ushers in some further interest in using the legend to generate fear, both as part of a generalised ‘medieval’ backdrop in Minerva Press novels, and in greater depth as an available supernatural plot, often focused on Arthur’s undead return or Merlin’s prophetic and magical abilities.  From the 1820s onwards, women begin to produce their own translations of significant Arthurian works, facilitated by new, beginner-friendly editions of Arthurian romances, as well as increasing access to libraries and manuscripts.  Around the same time women also start to produce individual poems on the legend’s female characters.  The book introduces what might well be the earliest Maid of Ascalot poem, published in 1821 in the Ladies’ Monthly Museum, a full decade before Tennyson and Landon.  I also argue in the final chapter that the vogue for literary annuals and their ornamented, decorative style of verse helped to set the dominant aesthetic for the Arthurian myth in poetry as it moved into the nineteenth century.

I hope it’s not straying too far from the question to mention one date that looks like it should be key for women’s Arthurian writing, but actually isn’t.  In 1816 Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur was republished for the first time for nearly two hundred years, in two competing editions.  But rather than transforming women’s knowledge of the legend, there are few references to Malory by Romantic women writers before or immediately after this republication.  Instead women continue to work with other sources and a more eclectic mix of materials, and only really turn to Malory in any significant imaginative way after Tennyson and the first instalment of Idylls of the King (1859).  This lack of knowledge of and reliance on Malory is particular to Romantic women writers, and therefore it seemed right to stop the book at 1850, when Malory moves in to become a dominant source for women for the first time.

4) Which of the female-authored Arthurian works that you read for the project do you think are the most deserving of wider readerships in the academy?  Are there particular texts that you’d recommend to scholars thinking about covering Romantic-period Arthurian writing in an undergraduate context?

I’m very keen to promote Anna Jane Vardill, who might already be known to some.  She’s one of the writers in the book whose depth of interest in Arthurian material means that she reappears in a number of chapters – as Gothic poet, antiquarian satirist, and potential plagiarist.  She came briefly back into view in criticism at the turn of the twentieth century, and again in the 1960s, when she was finally identified as the author of a continuation of ‘Christabel’ in the European Magazine that appeared before Coleridge got his poem into print.  Vardill puts Merlin at the centre of her sequel: the wizard raises Christabel’s mother from the dead, disguises himself as Bard Bracy, and eventually succeeds in exposing Geraldine and banishing her to hell.  It’s a hugely entertaining and sensational piece, and one of a few Romantic poems to give Merlin a dramatic role, but more importantly I’d like Vardill to be recognised for her substantial involvement in the European Magazine more broadly.  She was the magazine’s largest female contributor by far, and also managed to deceive many of its antiquarian readers into thinking that she was Sir Walter Scott.  The antiquarian satires she wrote for the magazine are very much in the spirit of Scott’s The Antiquary, and I think she’s a significant figure to consider as part of the wider discussion of women’s satire in the early nineteenth century.

I’ve taught Landon’s ‘A Legend of Tintagel Castle’ to undergraduates a number of times myself now, alongside Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’, and Louisa Stuart Costello’s ‘The Funeral Boat’ (1829), if time and space permits (available at The Camelot Project and also in Clare Broome Saunders’s Louisa Stuart Costello: A Writing Life (Palgrave, 2016)).  I currently teach Bannerman’s ‘The Prophecy of Merlin’ as part a module on Romantic Gothic, alongside ‘Christabel’ and William Taylor’s ‘Ellenore’.  Bannerman’s poem is perhaps useful for prompting discussion about the critical assumption that the Gothic isn’t seriously invested in medieval topics and settings, and I agree with Elizabeth Fay that Bannerman’s Queen of Beauty is obliquely vampiric: like Coleridge’s Geraldine, she undergoes a transformation in front of King Arthur that is only ever described obliquely, as ‘something, like a demon-smile’.

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

Much of the book focuses on recuperating forgotten works, but I’m now working on something at the other end of the scale completely: an edition of Jane Eyre for Bloomsbury.  I’m still very much committed to adding new voices to the Arthurian canon, however, and I’m preparing an article on Mary Ann Browne, who wrote a Guinevere poem in the 1830s that never made it into the book.  I’m also writing a chapter on the broader topic of medievalism in women’s periodicals in the nineteenth century.  The 1820s and 1830s in particular continue to fascinate me, as do Hemans and Landon, and my next book will be located somewhere in that broad terrain.