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News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

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‘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.

“Frankenreads” – An international celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel

Please see below for an announcement from Prof. Neil Fraistat (University of Maryland). The Frankenstein celebrations next year are likely to be numerous, and this sounds like a particularly exciting international initiative devoted to promoting the iconic and ever-fascinating novel by Mary Shelley.

Image taken from Frankenreads.org

Image taken from Frankenreads.org

Frankenreads

“Dear all,

As you know, the year 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a seminal literary work that, since its appearance, has influenced millions of people across the globe. Frankenstein is a rare work of fiction in that it appeals to both novice and expert readers alike, readers who represent both the breadth of human diversity and a range of disciplinary interests and backgrounds. It is a work that remains relevant to contemporary cultural debates concerning issues ranging from biomedical technologies and the ethical questions they raise to misperceptions and misrepresentations of the Other and their impact on our shared humanity. Frankenstein sparks imagination and critical thinking about the human experience, and thus it is perhaps no surprise that it is the most widely taught literary text in the USA and the fifth most widely taught book from any discipline.

To commemorate the bicentennial of the novel and also to harness its power to generate and inspire communities of readers, the Keats-Shelley Association of America (K-SAA) in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities is launching “Frankenreads”: a “Bloomsday”-style, national/international public reading of Frankenstein on October 31, 2018. We hope to:

  • engage an international community, including but not limited to North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific in related activities centering on the novel;
  • to make this community visible globally as a community through shared branding and social media;
  • to livestream a public reading of Frankenstein to be held in Washington, D.C. for those around the world who are unable to attend one in person;
  • to facilitate bringing regional experts of the novel to such events as lectures, discussions, and film showings held at local libraries and community centers;
  • to hold in the days leading up to Frankenreads an international “Week of Frankenstein,” during which students, teachers, and the public could hold Frankenstein related events and contribute their thoughts, images, and short videos about Frankenstein to a collective blog.

We now invite you now to join our core group of over 40 universities and libraries from 10 countries by involving your university, local library, or community center in participating.

To read more about strategies for hosting an event, see a select list of related resources, and to register your own event, go to our dedicated website: frankenreads.org.

We hope you will be joining us as host or participant!”

 

Staging Nineteenth-Century Melodrama at the Georgian Theatre Royal

Staging Nineteenth-Century Melodrama at the Georgian Theatre Royal

The Fortress on the Danube is being performed at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Yorkshire, on Friday 25 August, 7.30pm. Director: Sarah Wynne Kordas; Musical Director: Diane Tisdall; Dramaturge: Sarah Burdett. Tickets can be purchased here.

By Sarah Burdett (University of Warwick)
For the past five months, I have been working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Warwick on the exciting practice-based research project ‘Staging Napoleonic Theatre’. The project, led by Dr Katherine Astbury, and funded by the AHRC, has involved staging two nineteenth-century French melodramas in translation. Roseliska, a melodrama of 1811, written and performed by French prisoners of war at Portchester Castle, was revived at the site of its original production in July 2017; and La Forteresse du Danube, (translated as The Fortress), by prolific French playwright Guilbert Pixerécourt, initially staged at the Théatre de la Porte Saint-Martin in 1805, is being revived at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, on 25 August 2017. One down, one to go!

 

fortress-advert
As a British theatre historian who has spent the last four years hunched over manuscripts of Georgian play-texts in dark and silent libraries, the experience of bringing these scripts back to life in my role as dramaturge – of furnishing them with the spectacular and aural vibrancy that the written text alone cannot provide – has been both exhilarating and enlightening. Recent Romantic theatre scholarship has stressed the need for the play text to be read alongside its visual, aural and oral elements, in order for its theatrical impact to be adequately comprehended. Nowhere is this statement more true than in relation to the nineteenth-century melodrama, as I have discovered first hand while working on this project.

 
Popularised in both France and Britain in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the melodrama sought to provide entertainment emotionally powerful enough to stimulate the minds of a public traumatised by the recent violence in France. In order to achieve this, the genre fully exploited all that the nineteenth-century theatre, its actors and musicians, had to offer in terms of scenic and musical extravagance. As well as making full use of advancements in technology, which enabled the inclusion in melodramatic performances of explosions formed by fireworks, and naval battles performed on flooded stages, the melodrama’s elaborate spectacle was enhanced by a style of acting that consisted of large and elaborate gestures. In the melodrama, nothing is left concealed. Characters are open books whose emotions are externalised clearly and unambiguously through the use of entirely demonstrative gesticulations, movements, and facial expressions. Bodies do the talking: they tell us what characters are thinking and feeling without the need for monologues. Essentially, the body surpasses the script in terms of emotional expression.

 
The emotional intensity enabled by this expressive style of acting is strongly accentuated by the use of stirring, provocative music. Melodramatic music, provided by an orchestra, plays an integral function in shaping audiences’ responses to the scenes exhibited on stage. Like the actor’s body, music provides another form of non-verbal communication. As well as serving to enable sound effects for occurrences including dramatic storms and battles, music can also anticipate forthcoming events, hark back to previous scenes, magnify a character’s inner thoughts, accentuate externalised feelings, and encourage audiences when to cheer, when to boo, and when to remain silent. Lengthy interludes of instrumental music often accompany moments of high drama within melodramatic performances. Actors move in sync to the orchestra’s music, creating scenes that, while entirely lacking words, and therefore occupying little space in the play text, can last for a good three to four minutes when exhibited on the stage. The melodrama, therefore, becomes an entirely different beast when experienced in the theatre, than it does when confined to the page.

 

thomas-fortress-2

 

How then do you go about reviving a nineteenth-century melodrama to be staged before a twenty-first century audience? This is the question that myself and the Staging Napoleonic Theatre team continue to grapple with as we approach our performance of The Fortress at the Georgian Theatre Royal. One of the biggest challenges we experienced when staging the first of our two melodramas, Roseliska, was encouraging modern day performers to act in a manner that they considered at first to be grossly over the top. With twenty-first century acting styles being dominated by the influences of Stanislavski and naturalism, it is entirely unsurprising that melodramatic techniques tend not to sit too comfortably with twenty-first century actors. To accommodate this, we have been working with our performers on exercises revolving around mime and tableaux. These were largely inspired by the wonderful collection of essays published in the special edition of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film (Winter, 2002), edited by Gilli Bush-Bailey and Jackie Bratton, documenting the process of reviving melodramas by nineteenth-century British playwright Jane Scott, as part of the ‘Jane Scott Project’. I drew heavily on Dick McCaw’s essay in this collection, on training actors for melodrama, at the workshop/audition we held at the Georgian Theatre Royal back in June, from which we acquired our Fortress cast.

 

painful-recollection-2
To kick off the workshop, we had each of our participants describe how there morning had been thus far, in the form of mime. The exercise got participants thinking immediately about how to express themselves physically, using entirely non-verbal signs. Scheduling this as the first activity of the day, and using it as much to introduce participants to one another, as to get them thinking about melodramatic techniques, the exercise also quickly banished any inhibitions that the actors might have held about externalising their feelings in this peculiar manner, in front of a group of strangers. We then moved on to look at how narratives might be formed using freeze frames. Entirely pilfering McCaw’s ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ exercise, I gave our actors the task of acting out popular nursery rhymes in small groups, using a series of tableaux. These tableaux were then put into motion, creating a fluid sequence of movements. This exercise built on the opening ice-breaker, by encouraging actors to think about how they might go from conveying one very specific emotion/action to another, without allowing the narrative they are creating to become staccato. Fluidity of movement and of emotional expression are crucial skills for melodramatic actors. As I hinted previously, actors are often required to convey an entire series of emotions within the space of a single piece of music. Therefore, the ability to shift swiftly, coherently, and melodiously from one clearly defined pose to another, is a technique that must be mastered.

 

richmond-workshop-2

 

Accordingly, a lot of our workshop was devoted to musicality. Our musical director, Dr Diane Tisdall, played tunes on her violin from the original Forteresse score, and our actors were tasked with the challenge of responding to these tunes in character. Music was shown to play an incredibly authoritative role in determining the manner in which the actors interpreted the character they were playing. At one point in The Fortress, the lieutenant Olivier is faced with a moral dilemma: should he obey love or duty? While he silently contemplates this choice on stage, orchestral music helps to externalise his feelings. At the workshop, we experimented with changing the pace and tempo of this music. We found that doing so had a profound impact on the way that the role of Olivier was played. When the music was at its slowest, actors tended to play Olivier as a mournful, indecisive, and somewhat self-pitying character, distraught at the prospect of having to make such an unfair decision. When the music was at its fastest however, Olivier was shown to deal quickly with the emotional turmoil caused by the conflict, and to reach a frantic but firm resolution by the time that the music had ceased. This exercise indicated to our actors the collaborative role played by composers, musicians, and performers, in dictating the narrative’s meaning.

 

joy-2

 

 

We went on to introduce our actors to popular nineteenth-century acting manuals including Henry Siddons’s Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture, and the anonymously written Thespian Preceptor. These manuals offer visual and verbal descriptions of the ways in which certain emotions were externalised by performers on the nineteenth-century stage. While by no means offering prescriptive guides, the manuals provide valuable insight into the expressiveness of the poses, gestures, and facial expressions conveyed by performers of the time. Reviews of nineteenth-century melodramas printed in contemporary British newspapers, periodicals, diaries and letters have also been shared with performers. One brilliantly fun review of a melodrama staged in London in 1832 pokes fun at an actor’s incessant use of his arms, by comparing them to the sails of a windmill! This review was particularly helpful in assuring our modern day actors that, despite how ostentatious their gestures might feel, they are entirely in keeping with melodramatic extravagance.

 

thomas-fortress

 

This week the Staging Napoleonic Theatre team is up in Richmond, Yorkshire, ahead of our performance of the Fortress at the Georgian Theatre Royal on Friday 25 August. For this performance, we are working with a community cast, many of whom had never heard of Pixerécourt prior to their involvement in the play, but have quickly become experts in the dramatic genre that he pioneered. Following the fantastic reception that Roseliska received when performed at Portchester castle last month, we have discovered that there is definitely still a place for nineteenth-century melodrama on the twenty-first century stage. And what better stage to perform this on, than that of the country’s oldest working Georgian theatre, upon whose boards the likes of Sarah Siddons, Edmund Kean, and William McCready have previously stood? So, if you’re still wondering how one might go about reviving a nineteenth-century melodrama for a twenty-first century audience, come along and see for yourselves! We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Two-day symposium: ‘Byron Among the Poets’

Please see below for an announcement from Matthew Ward (University of Birmingham).

 

‘Byron Among the Poets’

A symposium at All Souls College, University of Oxford

Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th January 2018

 

Registrations are invited for a two-day symposium on Lord Byron’s literary relationships to poets from Virgil to Auden. In a series of papers by leading scholars, we will be mapping out the range and richness of Byron’s connectivity: what other poets meant to him, and what he meant to those who came after. Join us to explore the ways Byron might be thought to be – perhaps more than most – ‘among’ the poets: alluding and alluded to; collaborative; competitive; parodied; worked and reworked in canons, anthologies and editions. Papers will focus on the contours of individual literary relationships (what did Byron get from Pope? how did Eliot read Byron?), as well as exploring larger questions about the nature of poetic exchange, technical influence and generic formation.

Speakers: Dr Clare Bucknell (Oxford), Dr Madeleine Callaghan (Sheffield), Dr Anna Camilleri (Oxford), Professor Richard Cronin (Glasgow), Professor Nicholas Halmi (Oxford), Professor Simon Kövesi (Oxford Brookes), Dr Tom Lockwood (Birmingham), Professor Michael O’Neill (Durham), Dr Fred Parker (Cambridge), Professor Seamus Perry (Oxford), Professor Christopher Ricks (Boston), Professor Jane Stabler (St Andrews), Dr Matthew Ward (Birmingham), Dr Ross Wilson (Cambridge), Mr Andrew Wynn Owen (Oxford).

Registration is free and includes lunch on both days. To express your interest, or for further details, please email the convenors Clare Bucknell and Matthew Ward at byronsymposium2018@gmail.com. The closing date for registrations is December 1st.

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

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

 

AUSTEN AT 200

 

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

 

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

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

 

Wednesday 24 May

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

Followed by Austen: Literature, Film …or History?

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

 

Friday 26 May

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

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

 

Tuesday 30 May

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

Kathryn Sutherland (Oxford):   Austen as Wartime Novelist

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

 

Thursday 8 June, Festival of Ideas

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

John Mullan (UCL): What Matters in Jane Austen

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

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

 

Thursday 8 June, Festival of Ideas

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

The Enduring Appeal of Jane Austen

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

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

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

 

Sunday 11 June

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

Historians at work

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

Tickets at the door or contact the cinema.

 

Wednesday 14 June

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

Austen: Film…or Literature?

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

Tickets available from the City Screen website.

 

Friday 30 June

Fairfax House Public Lecture, Fairfax House 7:00*

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

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

Tickets available from Fairfax House.

 

Friday 14 July

Fairfax House Public Lecture, Fairfax House 7:00*

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

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

Tickets available from Fairfax House.

 

Organizers: Alison O’Byrne (alison.obyrne@york.ac.uk) and Erica Sheen (erica.sheen@york.ac.uk)

* Organized by Fairfax House