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BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

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BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship 2020

We would like to invite Early Career Researchers who are not in permanent employment to apply for a one-month residential Fellowship with the Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere.

The Wordsworth Trust is centred around Dove Cottage, the Wordsworths’ home between 1799 and 1808, where Wordsworth wrote most of his greatest poetry and Dorothy wrote her Grasmere journals. The Trust’s collection comprises over 68,000 books, manuscripts and works of art, and at its heart remains the poetry, prose and letters of William and Dorothy.

This Fellowship will take place during one of the most exciting and transformative times in the Wordsworth Trust’s history. Our major HLF-funded project ‘Reimagining Wordsworth’ is due for completion in time to celebrate Wordsworth’s 250th birthday on 7 April 2020. ‘Reimagining Wordsworth’ seeks to raise awareness and change perceptions of Wordsworth’s life and work, furthering his own wish for his poetry to help people ‘to see, to think and feel’.

To help achieve this, we are transforming our site (which will include a redesigned and extended museum, a new learning centre, a newly interpreted Dove Cottage and two new outdoor spaces) alongside an extensive programme of engagement and activities in Cumbria and beyond.

The Wordsworth Trust is also committed to embracing the Creative Case for Diversity in all that we do. We believe that by welcoming a wide range of influences, practices and perspectives, we can better understand our own collection and the stories it can tell, thereby enriching our public programmes. The purpose of this Fellowship is to help us achieve just that – to examine our collection from a different perspective, and to use that perspective and knowledge to help an audience of your choice better understand and engage with Wordsworth’s life and work. We are open to discussing what form this might take (a workshop, or online activity, for example) and what would work best for the audience you choose. The impact of this Fellowship will be substantial, not only in helping us shape the direction of our public programmes, but it also has the potential to foster positive in change the way people see Wordsworth, the world and themselves.

You will receive advice and training from the Collections and Learning team, led by Jeff Cowton (Curator and Head of Learning). The activity could be delivered within a workshop setting, or online – or whatever you think works best for the audience in question. There will also be opportunities to develop your own research.

We welcome applications from anyone whose research interests will help us to re-imagine Wordsworth and to embrace the Creative Case for Diversity. We particularly welcome applications from candidates that are under-represented, including candidates from low-income backgrounds, and/or candidates with disabilities (we are happy to discuss any reasonable adjustments that we can make).

The Fellowship provides on-site self-catering accommodation for one month; we would prefer the residency to take place between January and March 2019. The Fellowship also provides £100 towards travel expenses. All applicants must be members of BARS.

Application procedure: on no more than two sides of A4, provide your name, email contact details, institutional affiliation (if relevant), current employment status, a brief biographical note, a description of your PhD thesis, details of the proposed research and audience based activity, and preferred period of residence (from November 2019 to the end of March 2020). The successful applicant will show enthusiasm for audience engagement and for exploring Wordsworth’s life and work in new ways, demonstrated in initial ideas of their proposed project.

Send the application as an attached Word file to Jeff Cowton (J.Cowton@wordsworth.org.uk) and  Dr Jennifer Orr (Jennifer.orr@ncl.ac.uk) no later than 31 October 2019. The successful candidate will be informed within two weeks.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Jonathan Taylor on Alexander Runciman

This report is by Jonathan Taylor (University of Surrey), a recipient of the Stephen Copley Research grant. Find out how to apply for this BARS award here.

My Stephen Copley Research Award funded a trip to Edinburgh to consult the National Records of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery’s collections of letters and drawings by the painter Alexander Runciman (1736-85).

What interests me about Runciman — who is best known as the creator of the first (now sadly lost) decorative scheme based on James Macpherson’s Ossian epics — is his heroic treatment of female characters from the epic tradition. Whereas other late eighteenth-century artists (most notably Angelica Kauffman) had pioneered painters’ treatment of women as heroic subjects, they also tended to circumscribe the heroism of female epic characters, such as Andromache and Penelope, to passive acts of suffering and endurance. In several instances, Runciman went a step further, representing the suffering of female epic heroes not as something in which they have no agency, but something that they bravely elect to undergo. This is most obviously the case in Runciman’s depiction of Corgan Carglâ, a hunter from Macpherson’s Ossian, who chooses to be imprisoned in a cave for life rather than submit to her husband’s murderer.

Before my research trip, I thought I had discerned the origins of Runciman’s contemporarily unusual approach to female heroism in preparatory drawings for a rendering of the death of Dido, which appear to give Virgil’s tragic heroine more and more agency in successive sketches. The truth was, as I found out, both more interesting and more confusing. The drawings (held by the Scottish National Gallery) do gradually shift away from the passive and sentimental renderings of Dido that were popular with earlier eighteenth-century artists, in which the queen typically appears to have died as the direct result of her abandonment by Aeneas, rather than (in any obvious way) by her own hand. However, while what appears to be the final drawing shows Dido very much alive, clutching the sword with which she will end her own life and evidently weighing her options — an artistic choice which emphasises her agency and tacitly associates her with the Classical tradition of tragic but heroic suicide populated by figures including Seneca and Lucan — the painting itself rows back on these innovations and offers a conventional portrayal of Dido as a passive and inert victim.

National Records of Scotland

A year later, as I discovered in a letter held at the National Records of Scotland, Runciman was contemplating an even more drastic return to the gendered conventions of male heroism and female passivity that typify the epic. His original plan for what he would later turn into the Ossian decorative scheme at Sir John Clerk’s Penicuik House (near Edinburgh) was an uncompromisingly manly and conventionally heroic scheme based upon the life of Achilles. The only female character Runciman proposed for this series was Achilles’ mother, Thetis, whose agency, as Runciman’s detailed description makes clear, would not even have extended to untying her own sandals.

Evidently, Runciman later opted for the Ossian illustrations, which put Corban Carglâ centre stage, but even here, he agonised over whether to represent the imprisoned hunter as an awe-inspiring figure in her own right, or as a damsel in distress saved by Macpherson’s epic hero Fingal. Two preparatory drawings (also at the Scottish National Gallery) show Runciman wavering between these options, with a muscled and armed Fingal occupying the foreground in one and a (literally towering) Corban Carglâ dominating the frame (with Fingal relegated to the background and looking up awe-struck) in the other.

My findings have made me reflect upon external factors that may have caused Runciman’s apparent flip-flopping, what his prevarication may tell us more broadly about the difficulties or potential repercussions of portraying female heroes during the Romantic period, and the particular problems he may have faced as a male artist championing this model of heroism. I am very grateful to BARS for funding what has been a very productive few days of confusion!

By Jonathan Taylor (University of Surrey)

Stephen Copley Research Report: Francesco Marchionni on Nietzsche

To find out how to apply for a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, visit the main BARS site here.

Thanks to the Stephen Copley Research Award granted by BARS, I was able to spend a week in Weimar (Germany) to consult Friedrich Nietzsche’s Nachlass and work with manuscripts related to Nietzsche’s reading of Lord Byron, P.B. Shelley and Giacomo Leopardi. My doctoral thesis investigates notions of grief, death and posterity in the works of Byron, Shelley and Leopardi as a result of their readings of the Promethean myth from Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound. I avow that the Romantics’ fragmented poetic thoughts between hubris and nemesis anticipate the Nietzschean discourse of modernity as divided and contradictory.

My research residence began with a visit to the Nietzsche Archiv museum, dedicated to Nietzsche’s last days in Villa Silberblick before his death. From the very moment I entered the building, I remembered Nietzsche’s letter from 1884 where he bemoans: ‘Who knows how many generations must pass before people will come who can feel the whole depth of what I have done!’ In retrospect, Nietzsche’s letter seemed to me to echo Virgil’s line from the first book of Georgics, ‘scilicet et tempus veniet’, raising the question of what we can truly know of the time to come.

Nietzsche Archiv Museum

Looking at the portrait of Nietzsche in the museum as a man consumed day by day by an ill-fated disease, it seemed to me that the moribund philosopher silently lamented the paradox of the philosopher, between the deception of ambition derived from knowledge and the unfolding reality of suffering, a dilemma that finds in death an ultimate salvation. The portrait and epistle from 1884 reveal Nietzsche’s uncertainty regarding posterity and his rejoicing in the certainty of death ceasing his anguish. Having left the museum, I contemplated how Nietzsche’s mournful meditations chimed with the scepticism and gloom embedded in the works of Byron, Shelley and Leopardi. We can think, for example, of Shelley’s ‘Ode to the West Wind’ (‘O Wind,  / If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’), Byron’s Don Juan (‘What is the end of fame? ‘tis but to fill / A certain portion of uncertain paper’) and Leopardi’s Sappho’s Last Song (‘after endless/ Hoped-for honours and enjoyed illusions,/ Only Tartarus remains’).

The visit to the Nietzsche Archiv proved itself beneficial for the later consultation of Nietzsche’s Nachlass. From letters to friends (Erwin Rohde and Marie Baumgarten) and family (his mother Franziska Nietzsche and sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche) I could access, though in brief form, Nietzsche’s commentaries on the poetry of Shelley and Leopardi. In a letter to his sister from 1861, Nietzsche requests a copy of Shelley’s poetry edited by Julius Seybt (1844) and in a letter to Erwin Rohde from 1877, Nietzsche praises the English Romantic for the poetic achievement of Prometheus Unbound. Additionally, the letter to Rohde is compelling because Nietzsche comments how he found in Shelley a version of himself, philosophically and poetically. A few years after reading Shelley, Nietzsche received from Marie Baumgarten a copy of Leopardi’s poetry edited by Paul Heyse (1878). The 1878 epistle to Baumgarten about Leopardi attests to Nietzsche’s fascination regarding the Italian Romantic and his delightfully gloomy poetry. However, later in the epistle Nietzsche points out a philosophical detour from Leopardi’s pessimism. Nietzsche illuminates that Leopardi’s poetry is suffused with a profound sense of resignation regarding the gloom of human existence. By contrast, the German philosopher argues that such gloom should be contemplated in order to apprehend human suffering.

The final days of research were spent reading and working on Nietzsche’s unpublished essay Über die dramatischen Dichtungen Byrons (‘On the dramatic Works of Byron’), written at the age of 17. Though Nietzsche argues that Byron is not a dramatist because his works lack of dramatic objectivity, the essay presents a fond enthusiasm for the English poet. Nietzsche writes that Byron’s poetry resembles the rage of a volcanic explosion that falls into a sinister tranquillity, and also contends that his poetry contains the diseases of the world within the purity of his lyricism. Nietzsche offers an interesting example of Byron’s poetics by looking at Manfred. He comments that Manfred encompasses a Byronic superhuman despair and, through the protagonist of the dramatic poem, Byron is capable of performing, theatrically, the stormy hall of his poetic thoughts. Thus, Nietzsche concludes, Byron deconstructs in Manfred a discourse about knowledge, confessions about a disordered world and the notion of divine self-consciousness.

Reading Nietzsche’s unpublished essay on Byron, and his letters on Shelley and Leopardi, allowed me to assess Nietzsche’s familiarity with the three Romantic poets, who, interestingly, seem to be depicted as poetic titans who were forerunners of the Olympian Pantheon of what Nietzsche calls his ‘Gay Science’. I am deeply grateful to BARS for granting me this opportunity and I am sure the research in Weimar will be of great value for the completion of my doctoral thesis.

Francesco Marchionni (Durham University)

Call for Papers: BARS PG/ECR Conference 2020, ‘Romantic Futurities’

Call for Papers:

Romantic Futurities

British Association for Romantic Studies Early Career and Postgraduate Conference

Keats House, London, 12-13 June 2020

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Michael Gamer (University of Pennsylvania)

Dr Emily Rohrbach (University of Manchester)

The BARS Early Career and Postgraduate Conference invites an examination into the pluralistic theme of ‘futurities’ in Romantic-period literature and thought. This examination is inclusive of, but not limited to, the historical future, the anticipatory future, posterity, and the future of the field of Romanticism. The conference will bring together early-career and postgraduate researchers whose work addresses futurity from a wide range of perspectives: from historical depictions of the future, to writers’ concerns with posterity, to the future of the field of Romanticism in regard to rethinking the canon, pedagogical approaches, and digital humanities.

We encourage a wide interpretation of ‘futurities’. Topics of interest may include:

  • Backward Glances (the anterior future, or the historical moment as future)
  • The Utopian and Dystopian
  • Science and Invention
  • Radicalism, Rights, and Revolution
  • Lost Futures (early and unanticipated deaths, unpublished works)
  • Prophecy and Apocalypse
  • Time and Temporality
  • Modernity and Posterity
  • Ecology and the Environment (‘dark ecology’ and the Anthropocene)

Please send 250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers to bars.postgrads@gmail.com by 31 January 2020 including a 100-word biography. We also welcome 250-word abstracts for poster presentations separate from or in addition to papers. Posters cannot be presented in absentia.

Follow us on Twitter: @BARS_PGs and visit our website for more information: romanticfuturities.wordpress.com

We expect to publish a special issue of essays from revised conference papers through Romanticism on the Net

Romantic Futurities is organised by the BARS ECR Representative Paul Stephens (Oxford) and the BARS PG Representatives Amanda Blake Davis (Sheffield) and Colette Davies (Nottingham).

The Conference Organising Committee are looking for PGR students who would like to be Conference Helpers and assist with stewarding the event. If you are a PGR student, please send your expression of interest to bars.postgrads@gmail.com by September 30th 2019. Our conference website has a specific page entitled ‘Volunteers’. A more detailed breakdown of the responsibilities of this role can be found here. If you have any other queries, please do get in touch.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Stephen Basdeo on Robert Southey

Robert Southey’s “Harold; or, The Castle of Morford”—The First Robin Hood Novel

By Stephen Basdeo, Associate Professor at the Richmond American International University (Leeds RIASA).

To find out how to apply for a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, click here

In August, thanks to a generous BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, between 12–15 August, I was able to visit to visit the Bodleian Library in Oxford to consult Robert Southey’s ‘Harold; or, The Castle of Morford’ (Bodleian MS Misc. Eng. e. 21), written in 1791 and purchased by the Bodleian Library from the famous Bristol booksellers W. George’s Sons in 1895.

The manuscript’s unassuming title obscures its significance somewhat, for this is, as far as I can ascertain, the first attempt by any author to write a novel featuring the legendary English outlaw, Robin Hood, as it predates Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (1819) by 28 years.

Along with a colleague, Dr Mark Truesdale, I am transcribing and publishing Southey’s unpublished text with Routledge as part of its ‘Outlaws in Literature, History, and Culture’ series, and publication is expected in March 2020. The purpose of my visit, then, was to perform final checks of our transcription, such as making sure we had not misread words (young Southey’s handwriting was not the neatest), for the Routledge edition will reproduce, as far as possible, exactly what was written by Southey 228 years ago.

Bodleian MS Misc Eng e. 21

The manuscript is bound in a maroon binding dating from probably the mid-nineteenth century, with gold embossed title on the spine reading ‘Juvenilia Romances MSS. Southey’. Binding the manuscript in this way has the obvious advantage of keeping all of the leaves together but this has also meant that some words on the margins have been obscured due to the tightness of the binding and the fact that Southey often used the whole page, writing right up to the edges of the leaves. Another issue is that the binders also trimmed the pages at the top, bottom, and sides, meaning some words from the manuscript are forever lost.

Luckily for us, someone in the Victorian era faithfully copied out Southey’s tale in full (presumably before it was bound), which meant that deficiencies in the original manuscript (Bodleian MS Misc Eng e. 21) could be cross-checked with the copy (Bodleian MS Misc Eng e. 114), which was donated by Baroness Paravicini to the library in 1927 — not every eighteenth-century scholar has the luxury of having two manuscripts to check when undertaking similar projects!

Southey’s unpublished tale will be of benefit, not only to Robin Hood scholars, but to the eighteenth-century and Romanticism community at large. In it we find poetry written by Southey which he never published, with some of the poetry, written as it was by a 16 year old boy, preoccupied with women’s ‘charms’:

And oft beneath the glassy wave
Her dainty limbs would hide
And oft above the waves appeared
Her gently heaving breast
That charm alone exposed to view
The waves obscured the rest
Come, Launcelot the nymph exclaimed
Tis now the time for love
For silent is the midnight hour
And pleasant is the grove
With that she leaped from out the wave
Exposing all her charms
Come, Launcelot again she cried
Come riot in my arms (55v–56r)

Southey wrote his novel before his political ‘radicalisation’ in 1794, after meeting with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Yet in ‘Harold’, we do find that even by the age of 16, Southey had developed a social conscience. For example—and the novel is barely historicised—the Robin Hood considers himself as ‘the overseer of the poor rates’, and delights in levying contributions from the richest in society and redistributing wealth to the humblest class of people (14v). And the forest society of Sherwood is an egalitarian one, where even King Richard, who has ventured back to England in disguise and joined the outlaws, thinks himself neither above nor below any of the other outlaws.

Scholars will not have to wait too long to read Southey’s novel, and I am grateful to the British Association for Romantic Studies for providing me with funding to travel to Oxford and ensure that all of mine and Mark’s transcriptions were correct so we can present scholars with an accurate version of what Southey originally wrote and, if they want to consult Southey’s juvenile tale, not have to make an expensive trip to Oxford themselves.

Dr Stephen Basdeo

20th August 2018

William Blake at BARS

Today on the Blog is a post from Jodie Marley (University of Nottingham). This is the third in a series of reports from the International BARS conference that took place in July 2019. You can also see pictures from the event if you search #BARS2019 on Twitter. She is part of the committee running UoN Romanticism with Amy Wilcockson and Ruby Hawley-Sibbett, at the University of Nottingham. This is a Romanticism reading group who run monthly sessions with invited guest speakers. This Nottingham-based group has members and attendees who from across the UK, and organise a field trip every term to a local Romantic area of interest. For more details – follow @UoNRomanticism or email uonromanticism@nottingham.ac.uk

As I specialise in Blake, it was an absolute delight to experience four Blake panels unfold at BARS 2019. We had one Blake panel per day, which was, to quote Jason Whittaker (University of Lincoln) , ‘utter bliss’.

I presented my paper on day one’s Blake panel on ‘The Fantastical Reception of William Blake’. I spoke on the reception of Blake’s esoteric thought by W. B. Yeats. Jason Whittaker’s paper on Blake discussed Ray Nelson’s Blake’s Progress and Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve, and Luke Walker’s (Roehampton University) paper outlined connections between Blake, Dead Man and mid-twentieth-century psychedelia’s interpretations of Romanticism. This panel’s consideration of the expansion of Romanticism’s influence beyond 1790-1830 was particularly useful in broadening Romantic studies’ traditional scope.

Day two’s Blake panel focused on Blake’ art and illustration. Clémence Ardin’s (University of Kent) paper compared Blake’s illustrations of fallen women and angels in the Book of Enoch with Alfred de Vigny’s Eloa ou la soeur des anges. Sharon Choe’s (University of York) paper centred around a close-reading images on the The Book of Urizen plates to discuss Blake’s representations of darkness, the void, creation and destruction. Elli Karampela’s (University of Sheffield) paper discussed ‘The Ghost of a flea’, Blake’s ‘Visionary Heads’ and how we might conceptualise them as Gothic bodies.

Clémence Ardin, Sharon Choe and Elli Karampela on the ‘Fantasising Blake’ panel

Day three’s Blake panel, ‘William Blake’s Hand’, began with Mark Crosby (Kansas State University) and his paper on Blake’s letters and how they illustrated Blake’s (often difficult) journey through the patronage system. Elizabeth Potter’s (University of York) paper, gave an innovative reassessment of approaching Blake’s marginalia, and helped me reassess and realign my current use of Blake’s marginalia. Both Potter and I quoted the same aphorism of Lavater’s (number 532) in our respective papers, an eerie coincidence. The final paper for this panel was Josephine McQuail’s (Tennessee Tech University) on eroticism in the Vala illustrations, and its reception in Blake criticism over the centuries. As in the second Blake panel, there was an emphasis in McQuail’s paper on the importance, the necessity of considering Blake’s images alongside his works, which I find increasingly important as I form my own research about Blake.

Elizabeth Potter giving her paper

I chaired day four’s Blake panel, ‘Blake’s Visionary Imagination’. Tara Lee’s (University of Oxford) spoke on the intersection of the natural and the mechanical in Blake’s particular form of epic. Joshua Schouten de Jel (Plymouth University) discussed selfhood and psychoanalysis in The Book of Thel and Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Finally, with perhaps one of my favourite papers of the conference, Camille Adnot (Paris-Diderot University) spoke on Blake’s Four Zoas, the influence of medieval mappae mundi on Blake’s illustrations, and the question of mapping dreamscapes in Blake’s works.

Camille Adnot presenting her paper

BARS 2019 was fascinating from start to finish. Although the end of the conference left me feeling deflated that four days of exciting conversations had to come to an end, I am, ultimately, excited for the future of my research area and the connections I’ve made within it.

Jodie Marley, University of Nottingham

16th August 2019

BARS 2019: Factually a Fantastic Conference!

Today on the Blog is a post from Colette Davies (University of Nottingham). She reports from the International BARS conference that took place in July 2019. This is the first of a series of reports from the conference. You can also see pictures from the event if you search #BARS2019 on Twitter. 

Please forgive the cheesy title. The 16th International British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) conference, themed ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’ (now you can see my title’s inspiration!), has just been hosted by the University of Nottingham’s School of English. Spanning a period of four days, Nottingham welcomed over 200 delegates from all around the world to this conference. Numerous parallel panels, exemplary plenaries, ECR and PGR workshops, excursions, conference banquets, wine receptions, wonderful catering, and frequent tea and coffee breaks meant that these four days sped by.

Despite time flying, the planning and organisation of this conference has been years in the planning. Bids for hosting the 2019 conference were placed just after the 2015 BARS conference at Cardiff University. As a current PhD student at the University of Nottingham, I joined the planning team over a year ago and, as Twitter reminded me today, I set up the Twitter account 365 days ago. Thankfully, the hard work by a team of more than ten people over the past four years most certainly paid off.

On the first day (and the hottest day of the year so far), delegates were welcomed by the organisers, Professor Lynda Pratt and Professor Máire Ní Fhlathúin. The conference was then officially opened by Professor Jeremy Gregory, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham. Professor Laura Mandell, of Texas A&M University, gave the first plenary in which she focussed on ‘Re-inventing Gender: the Feminist Controversy in England, 1788-1810’. Her plenary discussed the data project she is currently working on, in which writing styles are annotated and grouped to indicate difference of styles that surpass the M/F binary. Lunch followed, during which there was a highly informative PGR and ECR workshop on ‘Heritage Careers’ given by Dr. Gillian Dow and Dr. Anna Mercer. The afternoon was a succession of three parallel panels; over 60 individuals presented on the first day! The evening began with the Welcome Reception and Book Prize followed by an informal dinner.

BARS Book Prize announced by Dr. Jane Moore

Friday quickly flew by with four parallel panels along with two plenaries, a BBQ for dinner and a PGR and ECR wine reception. Professor Diego Saglia gave the second plenary of the conference, in which he focussed on Byron’s links to and life in Ravenna in a lecture entitled, ‘Byron’s Words and Things: Bodies, Bullets and a Box’. His presentation included some of the items relating to Byron which were collected by the Countess Teresa Gamba – one of them being flakes of Byron’s skin! The third plenary was delivered by Professor Jane Stabler. Also focussing on Byron, Jane Stabler discussed the anecdotal evidence and annotations on Byron’s text. Friday closed with a vibrant PGR and ECR wine reception at the Orchards Hotel, allowing PGR and ECR students to meet and mingle.

The Conference Banquet

Saturday was Excursion Day! In the morning, delegates attended one parallel panel before enjoying the plenary on ‘Peterloo: The English Uprising’ by Dr. Robert Poole. This was also the public Byron lecture, hosted annually by the School of English. Poole showed the audience images and text from the new graphic novel he has collaboratively worked on and which tells the story of Peterloo through using cartoons, as well as evidence and quotations from letters and records of Peterloo in its narrative. Specifically, Poole concentrated on the representation of women in archival documents and contemporary caricatures of Peterloo and used them to illuminate the role women played in this uprising. On Saturday afternoon, delegates could choose one of three excursions: trips were planned to Newstead Abbey, Wollaton Hall and Park, and the Lakeside Arts Museum which currently houses the conference’s exhibition on Romantic Facts and Fantasies. The Conference Banquet on Saturday evening was enjoyed by all who attended. We were treated to performances of Peterloo songs, collated and introduced by Dr. Alison Morgan of Warwick University and performed by folk trio, the Thrup’nny Bits.

Performance by the Thrup’nny Bits

The last day, Sunday, had the final parallel panels and a second ECR and PGR workshop, this time focussing on publishing. Delivered by Professor Ian Haywood and Dr Richard Gaunt, they tackled some of the facts and fantasies of publishing monographs and articles and REF. Professor Sharon Ruston gave the final plenary on Sunday afternoon; her talk on Humphry Davy’s notebooks demonstrated how he discussed both poetry and science, using concepts of Romanticism to define scientific practices and work. The conference closed with the new incoming President of BARS, Anthony Mandal, praising the conference organising team and all those who gave papers, asked questions, and attended panels and workshops. Colette Davies and Amanda Blake Davis then introduced the BARS ECR and PGR conference, to be held in June 2020 at Keats House, before Dr Andrew McInnes advertised and outlined the 2021 BARS/NASSR joint conference, which will be hosted at Edge Hill University. Hands sore from many rounds of applause, delegates bade farewell to Nottingham. Many headed home, but many were also heading for the International Conference of Romanticism (ICR) in Manchester or the Frances Burney conference, both of which took place the week after BARS.

Conferences require a lot of energy, both from delegates and organisers. Yet, they enable people to share their research with each other, forge connections with scholars working in similar areas and, most importantly, allow individuals to develop their research and practice. I am always nervous before presenting a conference paper but the discussions afterwards are so rewarding. I have never been to a conference yet where I haven’t come away with new texts to include in my research or a new approach to a work or an author. BARS 2019 didn’t disappoint. Established and new scholars alike are keen to talk to each other and it was wonderful to mix with scholars at different stages of their careers. It was really rewarding to be part of the organising team for this conference. Thank you to everyone who came and thanked us for our work towards.

The next BARS conference will be the BARS PG/ECR Conference in 2020. The conference will be held at Keats House, Hampstead, from 12th-13th June. Further details and CfP to follow – for now, save the date!

Colette Davies, University of Nottingham

14 August 2019

The Scottish Romanticism Research Award 2019

The executive committees of the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) and the Universities Committee for Scottish Literature (UCSL) are delighted to announce the winner of the third annual Scottish Romanticism Research Award: Amy Wilcockson, a PhD Candidate in the English Department at the University of Nottingham. During her research trip, she will visit the University of Glasgow Library and the Mitchell Library in order to study materials relating to her research on the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell.

BARS and UCSL have established the annual award for postgraduates and early career scholars to help fund expenses incurred through travel to Scottish libraries and archives, including universities other than the applicant’s own, up to a maximum of £300. A postgraduate may be a current or recent Master’s student (within two years of graduation) or a PhD candidate; a postdoctoral scholar is defined as someone who holds a PhD but does not hold a permanent academic post. If appropriate, UCSL will endeavour to assign the awardee an academic liaison at one of its partner universities in Scotland.

Recipients are asked to submit a short report to the BARS Executive Committee, for publication on its website, and to acknowledge BARS and UCSL in their doctoral thesis and/or any publication arising from the research trip. Please join us in congratulating Amy on her award. We look forward to welcoming her to Scotland.

Dr Daniel Cook, University of Dundee

12 August 2019

Applications Open! Nineteenth-Century Matters Fellowship: University of Surrey 2019-20


Nineteenth-Century Matters is an initiative jointly run by the British Association for Romantic Studies and the British Association for Victorian Studies. Now in its fourth year, it is aimed at postdoctoral researchers who have completed their PhD, but are not currently employed in a full-time academic post. Nineteenth-Century Matters offers unaffiliated early career researchers a platform from which to organise professionalization workshops and research seminars on a theme related to nineteenth-century studies, and relevant to the host institution’s specialisms. The focus should be on the nineteenth century, rather than on Romanticism or Victorianism.

For the coming academic year Nineteenth-Century Matters will provide the successful applicant with affiliation in the form of a Visiting Fellowship at the University of Surrey. The fellowship will run from 23 September 2019- 1 September 2020.

The successful fellow will particularly benefit from and contribute towards the University’s expertise in nineteenth-century literature, Neo-Victorian literature, theatre, mobility studies, and the visual arts. They will also be encouraged to become involved in the activities of the Victoriographies research group, a collection of researchers in the School of Literature and Languages and curators at Watts Gallery whose research focuses on the nineteenth century. Fellows will also benefit from the University’s close connections with Watts Gallery, that houses an impressive collection of nineteenth-century paintings and sculptures produced by the artist G.F. Watts and his wife, the designer and artist, Mary Watts.

This fellowship includes a University of Surrey e-mail address, and access to its library and electronic resources for the full academic year. There is no requirement to live in the Surrey area during this time. The primary purpose of the fellowship is to enable the successful applicant to continue with an affiliation and remain part of the academic community. It is a non-stipendiary post, and the fellow will need to support themselves financially during the academic year. The fellowship will, however, include up to three week’s accommodation at the University over the summer, where the fellow will be free to develop their research and make the most of Surrey’s archives and special collections. The fellow will also be financially supported by BAVS and BARS with the organising of a research and professionalization event on a theme relevant to Surrey’s collections and/or research interests. It is expected that the fellow will acknowledge BARS, BAVS, and the University of Surrey in any publications that arise from their position.

Application Process

Applicants should submit a CV with a two-page proposal of their research topic and event, and explain why they would benefit from the fellowship. These should be sent to Briony Wickes (briony.wickes@kcl.ac.uk) and Paul Stephens (paul.stephens@lincoln.ox.ac.uk).

The deadline for applications is Thursday August 22nd 2019 (23:59 GMT). Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision by Thursday August 29th 2019.

Past fellows are listed here.

Stephen Copley Research Report: Hiroki Iwamoto on Benjamin Robert Haydon

Stephen Copley Research Award Report:

Benjamin Robert Haydon Manuscripts at Houghton Library and Christ’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem at the Athenaeum of Ohio / Mount St. Mary’s Seminary

This June, thanks to a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, I was able to visit the United States to access the collection of Houghton Library at Harvard University. My PhD thesis concerns the historical painter Benjamin Robert Haydon’s influence on the poetry and poetics of John Keats, and I devoted my time at Harvard mostly to consulting the painter’s (unpublished) materials that are specifically related to the poet’s life and writings.

 

Houghton Library, Harvard University (author’s photograph)

 

Among the rare materials that I accessed at Harvard, I was particularly pleased to be able to consult Haydon’s unpublished original draft for his Autobiography. Haydon started this draft, which he called ‘Vita’, sometime around 1815 and is assumed to have abandoned it after 1825. Resumed as late as 1839, his Autobiography was published posthumously in Tom Taylor’s Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon (1853). That is, Haydon worked on the ‘Vita’ while many of the Romantic writers were still alive. Somewhat disordered and even incomplete as it is, this voluminous manuscript (which counts more than 250 pages) not only bespeaks the vigour with which Haydon composed it, but also provides us with a version of his literary self-portrait, drawn from a perspective quite significantly different from that in the published Autobiography. Keats scholarship has previously paid very little attention to the ‘Vita’, but I believe that a close examination of this manuscript will shed new light on our understanding of the literary and artistic milieu of the Romantic period, especially in the Keats circle.

At Harvard, I was also pleased to be able to consult Haydon’s transcriptions of Keats’s letters. Most of them are addressed to Haydon himself, the rest to Keats’s brother Tom. Since all of these letters have been already published, Haydon’s transcriptions themselves are not that remarkable. Yet what makes this material singular is that Haydon ‘annotated’ some of the letters. Judging from its content, it is most plausible that Haydon sent them to Richard Monckton Milnes (later Lord Houghton) to assist him in preparing for his first biography of Keats. In fact, Milnes’s 1848 biography of the poet does seem to rely on some of Haydon’s annotations. Yet Milnes’s book does not reproduce all of Haydon’s commentary, including that on Wordsworth’s (in)famous comment on Keats’s recitation of Endymion as a ‘pretty piece of Paganism’. It now turns out that, along with the ‘Vita’, Haydon’s annotated transcriptions of Keats’s letters will indeed be indispensable for exploring their relationship in my thesis.

 

The Athenaeum of Ohio / Mount St. Mary’s Seminary (author’s photograph)

 

Leaving Boston (Harvard), my research trip in the US ended by seeing Haydon’s large painting Christ’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem at the Athenaeum of Ohio / Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati. This Catholic seminary is located a long way from the airport, and it took more than an hour by bus even from the city centre to get there. But it was a rewarding experience for me to come Cincinnati to see this painting. Visitors to this seminary can now see Haydon’s painting hung awe-inspiringly in its darksome atrium. Christ’s Entry is grand both in its scale (size) and in its conception (subject). An often vainglorious artist, Haydon modelled the face of Christ on his own, and surrounded the figure with his own contemporaries including Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb; and the painted scene served him, virtually, as a symposium of the geniuses that gathered to commemorate his own imminent ‘entry’ into the history of English art. After all, he was then about to—but failed to—gain far-flung fame as a great historical painter. However neglected Haydon is nowadays, Christ’s Entry is still, I believe, his masterpiece. And those nearly life-sized figures in the canvas also seemed to induce me to feel as if I were a part of the picture, and to envisage further in my mind the animated scene when those luminaries—Keats, Wordsworth, Lamb, and others—enjoyed ‘the immortal dinner’ in front of this picture in late December 1817.

 

Benjamin Robert Haydon, Christ’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem (1820; photo provided by: The Athenaeum of Ohio / Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, Ohio U.S.A.)

 

I am greatly indebted to BARS for awarding me the research grant, without which this archival trip would not have been possible. And I am also very grateful to the librarians and staff at Houghton Library and the Athenaeum of Ohio / Mount St. Mary’s Seminary for their permission to allow me to take a close look at the rare materials in their collections. Thanks to all those concerned, my research trip went very well, and will undoubtedly contribute significantly to the development of my thesis.

—Hiroki Iwamoto (University of Bristol)

Find out how to apply for a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award here.