BARS Blog

BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

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19th Century Matters: Digital Mapping Training Day, May 2019

Are you an Early Career Researcher working on the long nineteenth century? Have you ever wondered why bother with digital mapping and what it could contribute to your research?

Registration is now open for a one day research and training event in digital mapping for Early Career Researchers, including current PhD students, in English and History, 29 May 2019, 10.30-16.30, at the Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University. The day aims to support and inspire absolute beginners in considering using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology in their own research. The day will include two training sessions in using ArcGIS Online, a keynote speaker and two researcher talks that will showcase successful research projects which use GIS to study historical and literary texts. The event should appeal to Early Career Researchers in English and History whose research spans across the nineteenth century, from the early Romantics to the Victorians. 

 

Keynote Speaker:

Professor Ian N. Gregory (Lancaster University)

 

Speakers:

Dr Christopher Donaldson (Lancaster University)

Dr Patricia Murrieta-Flores (Lancaster University)

 

ArcGIS Online Training Sessions Facilitator:

Dr Joanna Taylor (University of Manchester)

 

The event is free, and limited to twenty places. If you are interested in attending the event please use this link to register. Please note, attendees will need to bring their own fully-charged laptop to participate in the two training sessions.

The training day is sponsored by the British Association for Romantic Studies and the British Association for Victorian Studies and is an outcome of their joint Nineteenth-Century Matters fellowship. There are eleven £50 travel grants available for ECRs living 30 miles or more from Lancaster; please find details of how to apply at the above link.

Report from ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ – Charles Maturin’s Women

A final 2018 report from the ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ seminar. This series is sponsored by BARS and seminars are held at the University of Greenwich. 

 

Charles Robert Maturin, Women; or, Pour et Contre (1818), as discussed by Christina Morin (University of Limerick)

Blog post report by Victoria Ravenwood (Canterbury Christ Church University)

 

 

The highly-anticipated final seminar in the ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ series was delivered by Christina Morin, of the University of Limerick, on Charles Robert Maturin’s Women; or, Pour et Contre. Interestingly, Morin opened the discussion with talk of another notable 1818 novel – namely, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein– and the Frankenreads project directed by Neil Fraistat to mark its 200-year anniversary. With this in mind, she presented the question: Why are we celebrating Frankensteinalone, and not any of the other great works published in that same year? Morin offered Maturin’s Womenas an equally fascinating alternative to Shelley’s seminal Gothic work.

Women; or, Pour et Contrewas Maturin’s fourth novel, and centres around the lives of two women – Eva, a deeply religious but naïve young girl; and Zaira, a beautiful, talented and successful actress – and their romantic involvements with the same man, the charming De Courcy. The novel was supposed to be published in 1816, but was not actually published until several months after the publication of Shelley’s Frankensteinin 1818. Although Shelley is highly unlikely to have read Women before this time, we do know that she was reading other works by Maturin (such as Melmoth the Wanderer) whilst she wrote and prepared Frankensteinfor publication. From this, Morin suggested, we can surmise not only the influence that Maturin’s writing had on Shelley, but also the ways in which he is responsible for contributing to the formation of the literary Gothic.

To be sure, Maturin’s works were popular and influential in the early decades of the nineteenth century. They are not as widely read today, however – evidenced in the fact that a copy of Maturin’s 1818 novel was hard to locate. Likewise, scholarship on Women; or, Pour et Contre,is limited. Morin suggested that the main reason for this erasure is that defining and identifying Irish Gothic fiction in the Romantic period is difficult, with criticism tending largely to overlook works which fall outside of the retrospectively defined boundaries of Romantic fiction (which, she added, is very much held to an ‘English standard’).

Morin explained that Irish writers had been contributing to the Gothic all along, with notable writers such as Regina Maria Roche utilizing the tropes of the genre as early as the 1780s, and yet she also noted that works by these writers are little read now. Moreover, they are continually written out of literary criticism, or else mentioned only to be dismissed as opportunistic imitators of more widely-acclaimed Gothic writers such as Ann Radcliffe. Morin argued, however, that works by the likes of Maturin cannot, and should not, be dismissed as such.

– Victoria Ravenwood

Free ‘Keats200’ launch event at Keats House, Hampstead on Saturday 1 Dec 2018

A message from Keats House, Hampstead (home of the poet from 1818 to 1820, now a museum and poetry centre).

Keats200 Launch: Saturday 1 December 2018

On Saturday 1 December, you are invited to join us for a special event to launch our Keats200 programme, which celebrates Keats’s most productive years as a poet.

From 10am, we will meet at Well Walk to journey with Keats and companions down to Keats House for a ceremonial opening of the House.

The House will be open from 11am – 5pm and will be free to everyone on that day. Drop in to meet Keats and companions and take part in a range of special events including discussions with Professor Nicholas Roe and Dr Anna Mercer on Keats and Romantic poetry, tours of the House, poetry readings and activities for all ages.

The walk will be repeated at 2pm, arriving at the House for 3pm. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear for both walks.

Just as Keats was welcomed by his friends to Wentworth Place, we look forward to welcoming you too, to the place where he found inspiration, friendship and love, now known as Keats House.

See below for timings and booking details for selected events:

10 – 11am
Walk with Keats to Wentworth Place (now Keats House). Booking essential via keatsevents.eventbrite.co.uk.

11am
Ceremonial arrival at Keats House and opening of Keats at Wentworth Place exhibition.

11am – 5pm
House open for free to all, including Build your own Wentworth Place activity for families, and the Keats House Poetry Ambassadors reading Keats’s poems throughout the day.

12noon – 12.30pm
Join Professor Nicholas Roe for a conversation about Keats in 1818-19.

12.45pm – 1.15pm
Dr Anna Mercer hosts a talk and Q&A on the Romantic movement and its significance.

2pm – 3pm
Repeat: Walk with Keats to Wentworth Place (now Keats House). Booking essential via keatsevents.eventbrite.co.uk.

2.15pm – 3pm
Guided tour of the house.

3.15pm – 3.45pm
Repeat: Join Professor Nicholas Roe for a conversation about Keats in 1818-19.

3.30pm – 4.30pm
Meet with Keats and associates in Hampstead, 1818.

4pm – 4.30pm
Repeat: Dr Anna Mercer hosts a talk and Q&A on the Romantic movement and its significance.

4.45pm – 5pm
Q&A with Rob Shakespeare, Principal Curator, on the Keats200 bicentenary.

Book tickets for the walk here.

Annual Wordsworth Lecture at Senate House, Thursday 22 November 2018

The Wordsworth Trust and the Institute of English Studies, University of London, invite you to

‘A Daedalus for the Romantic Era? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’

A talk by Professor Fiona Sampson

The lecture will take place on Thursday 22 November 2018,

6.00-7.00pm in the Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, 

Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

Both Frankenstein and the Daedalus myth address our fear of the exceptional individual who abuses his talents by overreaching: the maker who doesn’t know when to stop. Both create capacious archetypes, with plenty of space to explore ambivalence and even admiration alongside that fear. But Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein takes us considerably further than the composite Daedalus story: in a number of directions. Political, ethical, existential and scientific, all seem particularly pertinent to British Romantic experience of society and the self. But is it a paradox that this apparently universalisable myth could only have been written in its own time and place?

If you would like to attend, please RSVP with your name and number of places to:

Hannah Stratton, Development Office, the Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9SH.
Alternatively, telephone 015394 63520 or email h.stratton@wordsworth.org.uk.
Please RSVP by Friday 16 November.

‘Dorothy Wordsworth, Mountaineering Pioneer’ by Joanna Taylor

A special post on the BARS Blog today to celebrate the new exhibition ‘This Girl Did: Dorothy Wordsworth and Women’s Mountaineering’ at Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Trust. Joanna Taylor presents an edited version of her recent talk at the Trust, ‘Dorothy Wordsworth, Mountaineering Pioneer’.

On October 7 1818, Dorothy Wordsworth and her friend Mary Barker ascended England’s highest mountain: Scafell Pike. Wordsworth’s account of the feat is among the earliest records of a recreational ascent of the mountain – and it’s the earliest written by a woman.

Wordsworth’s and Barker’s climb of Scafell Pike is notable for the daring it displays: this was not simply a mountain climb, but a rebellious act that opened up the mountain – and mountaineering – for successive generations throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. More than that, reading Wordsworth’s account today suggests new ways of understanding the mountains that go beyond tales of sporting prowess: as Wordsworth knew, examining the details of a mountainside can be as rewarding as the view from the summit.

 

Dorothy Wordsworth’s ‘irregular habits’

 

Alex Jakob-Whitworth’s logo design for The Wordsworth Trust’s current exhibition, ‘This Girl Did: Dorothy Wordsworth and Women’s Mountaineering’.

 

Walking was an important part of the daily routine in the Wordsworth household, but they were well aware – and proud of – the fact that their commitment to almost daily extensive walks was unusual. In September 1800, for instance, we find Wordsworth explaining to Jane Marshall that the frequency with which they walked – and the distances they travelled – was one of the household’s ‘irregular’ habits. The Wordsworth siblings walked together most days for the best part of four decades; Thomas De Quincey estimated that William walked between 175,000 and 180,000 miles over his lifetime, and Dorothy can’t have fallen far short of that. Wordsworth bragged about the speed with which she could walk, and how little fatigued she was afterwards, until her mid-fifties.

Walking was not something Wordsworth took for granted. Both at the start and end of her life, Wordsworth knew what it was like to not be able – or allowed – to walk. In her late teens and early twenties – before she moved in with her brother in 1795 – Wordsworth’s walks were restricted by her relatives’ views on social decorum. For instance, she defended herself against her aunt’s disapproval of her ‘rambling about the country on foot’ by writing that:

I rather thought it would give my friends pleasure to hear that I had courage to make use of the strength with which nature has endowed me, when it not only procured me infinitely more pleasure than I should have received from sitting in a post-chaise – but was also the means of saving me at least thirty shillings.

Wordsworth was justifiably proud of her walking prowess – in 1818, when she was 46, she boasted to Sara Coleridge that she could ‘walk sixteen miles in four hours and three quarters, with short rests between, on a blustering cold day, without having felt any fatigue’. That’s an impressive pace of a little under four miles an hour around the Lake District hills!

But the climb up Scafell Pike with Mary Barker was perhaps Wordsworth’s most significant walking achievement. The two women initially only intended on climbing Ash Course – but, on reaching that point, they decided to push on to the Pike, since ‘three parts up that Mountain’. Although the distance turns out to be ‘greater than it had appeared’, still their ‘courage did not fail’.

 

One of the two surviving fair copies of the letter to William Johnson, in which Wordsworth describes the ascent of Scafell Pike. Used with permission from The Wordsworth Trust.

 

The letter in which Wordsworth describes this feat draws attention to different ways of reading the mountain. In one moment she describes a landscape that stretches out for miles from the summit on which she stands. But at the next, when she looks down, Dorothy realises that though the summit seemed lifeless at first glance, in fact beauty could be found clinging to the rocks if one looked closely enough:

I ought to have described the last part of our ascent to Scaw Fell pike. There, not a blade of grass was to be seen – hardly a cushion of moss, & that was parched & brown; and only growing rarely between the huge blocks & stones which cover the summit & lie in heaps all round to a great distance, like Skeletons or bones of the earth not wanted at the creation, & here left to be covered with never-dying lichens, which the Clouds and dews nourish; and adorn with colours of the most vivid and exquisite beauty, and endless in variety (quoted with permission from The Wordsworth Trust).

In focusing on these details close to hand, rather than rhapsodising on the distant prospect, Dorothy anticipates writers like Nan Shepherd: these women propose an alternative to more familiar accounts of mountaineering exploits that emphasise a victory over a feminised Mother Nature when the climber conquers the summit. Instead, Dorothy recognises that paying close attention reveals unexpected features even on a barren mountaintop.

 

Dorothy’s Legacy

 

A map from William Wordsworth’s Guide to the District of the Lakes showing the Scafell massif.  Used with permission from The Wordsworth Trust.

 

Wordsworth’s account of the ascent of Scafell Pike was later included – without attribution, possibly at her own request – in William Wordsworth’s Guide to the District of the Lakes. The implication was that it was William who had undertaken the ascent. As a result, Wordsworth’s legacy in climbing Scafell Pike is blurred into William’s, and many of the people who followed in her footsteps were unaware that it was her they were emulating.

Her ambitious walking practices established women’s walking as an accepted practice in the Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey families. Robert Southey, for instance, describes the delight which his daughter, Edith, and niece, Sara Coleridge, took from a young age in scrambling about on the fells around their home in Keswick, and Sara herself – not without some self-mockery – labelled them ‘expert mountaineers’.

But Wordsworth’s influence was much wider reaching. Harriet Martineau – a friend of the Wordsworths after she moved to Ambleside in the 1840s – seems not to have been aware that it was Dorothy who made the ascent, but her own account of an ascent of Scafell Pike closely replicates Wordsworth’s. Two decades later, Eliza Lynn Linton – the first salaried female journalist in Britain, though she’s perhaps more (in)famous for her notorious Girl of the Period essays – described Scafell’s intimidating appearance on the approach to it in her guidebook, The Lake Country, in 1865:

Scawfell rose up, and looked bigger and more formidable than ever. As we proceeded he grew, and our work seemed only beginning: all the climbing we have had mere child’s play to what was to come.

It did not put her off: Lynn Linton spent the night on the mountain. Lynn Linton’s description indicates what an extraordinary feat this climb was for Wordsworth to undertake at a moment when such ambitious routes were considered well beyond a woman’s capability. Wordsworth – like Martineau, Lynn Linton and countless others after her – made it clear that walking and other forms of mountaineering were as much for women as for men. Today, Wordsworth continues to offer a vision of the mountains that invites us all to look at, and move through, them in new ways.

 

This post is adapted from a talk given at The Wordsworth Trust on 1 September 2018; you can find a live video of the full paper here. ‘This Girl Did: Dorothy Wordsworth and Women’s Mountaineering’ opens at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, on Saturday 1 September and runs until Sunday 23 December. A film about recreating of Dorothy’s climb up Scafell Pike will premiere at the Kendal Mountain Festival on Sunday 18 November; more details and tickets will be available here.

‘Navigating the REF’, Nineteenth-Century Matters Training Day for PGRs and ECRs

10:00-17:00, Saturday 19 May 2018
Main Building, Cardiff University

This free training day is designed to help late-stage postgraduate researchers and early-career academics working within nineteenth-century studies to navigate the requirements of the Research Excellence Framework. The morning sessions are an opportunity to hear different perspectives on REF 2021 followed by a Q&A, the aim being to demystify the decision-making process and expectations for early-career scholars, particularly in relation to the job market.
  • The REF: What You Need to Know – Ann Heilmann (Cardiff University)
  • The REF from an ECR Perspective – Charlotte Mathieson (University of Surrey)
  • Thinking about Impact – Julia Thomas (Cardiff University)
The afternoon workshop sessions – ‘REF Submissions: How Are They Assessed?’ and ‘Thinking Through Your Own Submission’ – will provide participants with the chance to discuss the practicalities of the REF and apply this to their own research activities.
Some preparation before the training day will be required so that attendees can make the most of the afternoon activities. Further information regarding what this entails will be sent to those who register.

 

Please register here.

 

Registration closes Friday 20 April. Please note that places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Lunch included.

 

If you have any questions about this event, please email Clare Stainthorp.

‘Navigating the REF’ is sponsored by the British Association for Romantic Studies and the British Association for Victorian Studies. It is an outcome of the joint Nineteenth-Century Matters fellowship which is an initiative to support postdoctoral researchers without institutional affiliation or permanent academic employment. In 2017-18, the position entails a Visiting Fellowship hosted by Cardiff University.

 

 

Report from ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Here is a report by Merrilees Roberts from the first ‘Romantic Novels 1818‘ seminar. This series is sponsored by BARS and seminars are held at the University of Greenwich. 

BARS also provides bursaries to support postgraduates and early career researchers who wish to attend. You can find more information on the application process and see details of upcoming seminars in the series here.

 

 

A Discussion of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) with Dr James Grande

Romantic Novels 1818 Seminar January 2018

 

James Grande delivered a fascinating paper on Frankenstein intended to spark ideas about how to capture the neglected ‘1818’ context of the novel’s first edition, which comprised only 500 copies sold mostly to circulating libraries. Grande took James Chandler’s England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism as an inspiration for thinking through a microhistory of 1818 which would capture the novel’s historical – rather than literary – context. Resisting the critical orthodoxy of readings focused on biographical and ‘family romance’ narratives about the Shelley-Godwin family, Grande suggested possible ways of thinking through Frankenstein’s reception in 1818. These included setting the dedication to Godwin in the context of the repressive measures enforced by a government wishing to quash continuing debates fostered by 1790s radicalism, and research which shows that in this decade the fiction market was actually dominated by female authorship. This perhaps throws an interesting light on Percy Shelley’s support of and collaboration in the project. Another important consideration was the articles appearing in the same periodicals containing reviews of Frankenstein – those which express anxiety about the melting of the polar ice-caps, and which provide an unwittingly significant frame narrative to the novel.

 

University of Greenwich campus

 

Particularly interesting to me was the idea that the death of Princess Charlotte in November 1817 provides a more compelling analogue for the novel’s implicit preoccupation with the dangers of childbirth than Mary Wollstonecraft’s death in 1797. The idea that the changes in the weather throughout Europe following the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, which created the so-called ‘year without a summer’ in 1816, was in some sense a causal factor of both the composition of Frankenstein and the continuing apocalyptic mood of this post-revolutionary period also offers an interesting point of relation to the burgeoning scholarly interest in eco-criticism and philosophies of matter.

– Merrilees Roberts

The People’s Voice: Scottish Political Poetry, Song and the Franchise, 1832–1918

Please see the following announcement from the BARS Early Career Representative Honor Rieley (University of Glasgow):

Launch Event for The People’s Voice: Scottish Political Poetry, Song and the Franchise, 1832–1918

15 February 2018, Trades Hall of Glasgow

This conference marks the launch of the People’s Voice website, funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and created by staff at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.

This is a free online resource essential for anyone interested in the popular political culture of Scotland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, containing details of over a thousand poems as well as song recordings, essays and schools resources. On 15 February, we will celebrate the culmination of our work on this project with a programme of international speakers and musical entertainment. Please join us!

Our speakers will include: Florence Boos (University of Iowa), Alison Chapman (University of Victoria, Jon Mee (University of York) and Mike Sanders (University of Manchester).

The conference is free to attend but registration is required. Tickets available here.

Click here to see our website.

Twitter: @PeoplesVoiceSco

Romantic Novels 1818 Seminar Series: Programme and Bursaries

The London and Southeast Romanticism Seminar presents a new series entitled ‘Romantic Novels 1818’.

This exciting bicentenary project includes several academic guest speakers, starting with James Grande (KCL) on 25 February 2018. You can view the full programme here.

A limited number of bursaries are also available. Please see the following announcement from Susan Civale:

Call for Applications – BARS PG/ECR Bursaries – Romantic Novels 1818

Romantic Novels 1818 is pleased to be able to offer a limited number of BARS PG/ECR Bursaries to support postgraduate and early career scholars in attending our seminar series. Six bursaries of £50 each will be available in 2018 for scholars who are currently pursuing postgraduate study or are within five years of the award of the PhD. The BARS PG/ECR bursaries are intended to contribute to the expenses of scholars whose financial resources are limited. Bursary recipients will be asked to write a short blogpost entry on the session for our webpage.

To apply for a bursary, please send your full name, affiliation, stage of study, and contact details, along with a statement of no more than 300 words explaining how your attendance at the session fits in with your research, to Susan Civale and Claire Sheridan at reading1817@gmail.com.

Applications will be accepted until three weeks prior to the date of each seminar. Successful applicants will be notified as soon as possible.

Wordsworth Annual Lecture 2017: Byron and Wordsworth

Please see below for details of the Wordsworth Annual Lecture 2017, to be held in London on Halloween.

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Byron and Wordsworth: Art and Nature

Tuesday 31 October, 6.00 – 7.00pm

The 2017 London Lecture with Professor Sir Drummond Bone

Wordsworth and Byron fell out in a not very dignified way over politics, and there was heavy co-lateral damage in their opinion of each other’s poetry. But there was a fundamental intellectual difference too. Despite his flirtation with Wordsworthean pantheism at P B Shelley’s behest in 1816, Byron came to believe that moral and existential value could only be human constructs, whereas Wordsworth of course saw these very constructs as the barrier to an existential value inherent in Nature, the perception of which was the necessary ground of moral behaviour. Sir Drummond Bone will use this contrast as a way into reading their poetry, and spend some time specifically on their differing attitudes to city life and the nature of art.

Sir Drummond Bone graduated from Glasgow University, and was a Snell Exhibitioner at Balliol from 1968 to 1972. He is an acknowledged expert on the poetry of Byron and is President of the Scottish Byron Society. He became Professor of English Literature and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Glasgow, Principal of Royal Holloway and Bedford New College in the University of London, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, and President of Universities UK. He has been Master of Balliol since 2011. In Trinity Term 2016, he was appointed a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University.

Following the lecture will be a drinks reception that all are welcome to attend.

Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

To RSVP please contact Hannah Stratton at the Wordsworth Trust on 015394 63520 or email h.stratton@wordsworth.org.uk.