News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Archive for May 2016

Stephen Copley Research Awards 2016: Announcement

Please see below for a notice from Daniel Cook on this year’s Copley Awards.  We’d also like to remind you that BARS’ new bursary with the Universities Committee for Scottish Literature has a deadline coming up tomorrow and that applications for the BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship are due on July 1st.

The BARS Executive Committee has established these bursaries in order to support postgraduate and early-career research in the UK.  They are intended to help fund expenses incurred through travel to libraries and archives necessary to the student’s research.  As anticipated, this year we received a large number of applications, many of which were of a very high quality indeed.  Please do join us in congratulating the winners.

  • Raid Hussein Althagafy (Swansea)
  • Amy Boyington (Cambridge)
  • Colleen English (UCD)
  • Freya Gowrley (Edinburgh)
  • Sarah Louise Lovell (Durham)
  • Genevieve Theodora McNutt (Edinburgh)
  • Matthew Ward (St Andrews)

Once they have completed their research trips each winner will write a short report on their projects.  These will be published on the BARS website and circulated through our social media.  For more information about the bursaries, including reports from past winners, please see this page.

BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship 2016

Below are the details of our new BARS/Wordsworth Trust Fellowship, which is designed to help an early career researcher not currently in permanent employment to spend a month living, researching and collaborating in Grasmere.  Please share widely.

BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship 2016

We would like to invite Early Career Researchers who are not in permanent employment to apply for a one-month residential Fellowship with the Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere. The Trust is centred around Dove Cottage, the Wordsworths’ home between 1799 and 1808, where Wordsworth wrote most of his greatest poetry and Dorothy wrote her Grasmere journals. Dove Cottage opened to visitors in 1891, and the Trust will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the first day of opening on 27th July 2016. The first museum opened in 1935, coinciding with the bequest of the Wordsworth family archive to the Trust from Gordon Graham Wordsworth. The Trust collection has grown to 65,000 books, manuscripts and works of art, but at its heart remains the manuscript poetry, prose and letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. The Trust is embarking on an exciting new HLF-funded project leading up to the commemoration of Wordsworth’s 250th birthday on 7 April 2020. It is an audience driven project, seeking to raise awareness and change public perceptions of Wordsworth’s life and work. It will seek to re-imagine his life, his works and his relevance for today. The project will see onsite developments, such as the redesigning and extension of the present museum, alongside an extensive programme of engagement and activities within Cumbria and beyond. The Trust will be seeking to diversify existing audiences, and extend current work promoting the wellbeing agenda. In other words, actively making Wordsworth’s work accessible and continuing his own wish to see it help people ‘to see, to think and feel’.

We welcome submissions from applicants whose research interests will help the Trust to re-imagine Wordsworth. This is an opportunity to become familiar with existing audience engagement work (both onsite and offsite, gaining experience of duties that are audience related) and then creating a plan for an activity that will engage new audiences. This can be for an audience of your choice and will use the collections to stimulate an interest and develop understanding of the poet’s work. You will receive advice and training from the Curatorial and Learning team, led by Jeff Cowton (Curator and Head of Learning). The activity can be based in the gallery, to be delivered within a workshop setting, or online – or whatever you think works best for the audience in question. There will also be opportunities to develop your own research.

The Fellowship provides on-site self-catering accommodation for one month; we would prefer the internship to take place between November and February but this is negotiable. The Fellowship also provides £100 towards travel expenses. All applicants must be members of BARS.

Application procedure: on one side of A4, provide your name, email contact details, institutional affiliation (if relevant), current employment status, a brief biographical note, a description of your PhD thesis, details of the proposed research activity, and preferred period of residence (from September 2016). Send the application as an attached Word file to Jeff Cowton at no later than 1 July 2016. The successful candidate will be informed within two weeks.

New guidelines for applying for BARS Conference Subventions

Please see below for the updated guidelines for applying for conference subventions from BARS.

British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) Conference Subventions

BARS provides up to £100 to support conferences that promote Romantic studies. We are also keen to support initiatives that help to advance the career prospects of postgraduates and early-career scholars, and which have a public engagement outlook.


Who is eligible?

The applicant must be a member of BARS; if this is not the case, membership is available on the BARS website:


How do I apply?

Please send us:

  1. A statement of no more than 300 words describing how the conference contributes to Romantic-period studies.
  2. The draft call for papers (no more than 500 words).
  3. An outline budget, detailing the amount requested and the use to which it would be put.

Send the information to the BARS Secretary, Helen Stark (


What is the closing date?

There is no closing date. We take applications throughout the year.


What are the conditions?

We require that you:

  1. Acknowledge BARS’ support on all promotional material (e.g. website and programme), including the BARS logo which will be supplied.
  2. Provide a brief conference report for the BARS Blog within six weeks of the conference taking place.
  3. Claim all money awarded by December 1st in the year that the money is awarded.


How will I know whether I have been successful?

The Secretary will notify you by email with the outcome of your application, normally within two weeks. If your application is successful you will be issued with a cheque by the Treasurer.

CfP: Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Conference panel: The Strange Place of Ecocriticism

Please see below for a call for panellists from Dewey W. Hall.

Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association  

PAMLA 116th Annual Conference November 11-13, 2016

Panel Chair:             Dewey W. Hall, Professor of English

Affiliation:                California State Polytechnic University, Pomona


Session Title:           “The Strange Place of Ecocriticism: The Material as Cultural Artifact?”

Site:                            PAMLA 2016 at the Westin Hotel, Pasadena, CA.

Submit Proposal to

Deadline:                  June 10, 2016


The strange place of ecocritical discourse concerns the question of the materiality of nature as cultural artifact, or not. Paper topics for the panel may include writers as case studies to address the topic such as: Charlotte Smith, Wordsworth, Keats, Clare, Thoreau, Emerson, Dickinson, Heaney, Lowell, Bishop, Berry among others.

Panel Proposal:      

Lawrence Buell’s The Future of Environmental Criticism (2005) states, “The emergence of contemporary environmental criticism is in part the story of an evolution from imaging life-in-place as deference to the claims of (natural) environment toward an understanding of place-making as a culturally inflected process in which nature and culture must be seen as a mutuality rather than as separable domains” (67, emphasis mine). Accordingly, Buell identifies two place-holders within the polemic of what he calls “environmental criticism”: “life-in-place” referring to the actual, natural, physical, and material aspects in the environment; and “place-making” indicating the cultural, socially-constructed, and often political aspects involved in what Andrew J. Hubbell has called “cultural ecology.” On one hand, a redwood stands tall and majestic as a host for fern in a biome, as John Muir observed. On the other hand, that same redwood is part of Muir Woods National Monument authorized to preserve the redwoods.

The panel session invites paper proposals that take up discussion about the strange place of ecocritical discourse concerning the question of the materiality of nature as cultural artifact, or not, often represented through the production of articles, monographs, and editions. Papers may be interdisciplinary, transhistorical, transatlantic, or, more broadly, transnational.

‘On This Day’, Fictionalising 1816: A Treacherous Likeness

Lynn Shepherd is the author of A Treacherous Likeness, a fictionalisation of the lives of the Shelleys. The novel was one of Kirkus Reviews’ 100 Best Fiction Books for 2013, and a BBC History magazine historical novel for that year.

Today for the ‘On This Day’ series we include an extract from Lynn Shepherd’s novel to mark 200 years since the 3rd May 1816, the day when Percy Bysshe Shelley left for the continent with Mary Godwin (later Shelley) and Claire Clairmont. This journey was the start of their second expedition to Europe, and would lead to the infamous summer spent by Lake Geneva with Lord Byron.

The story of A Treacherous Likeness includes an account of the summer of 1816, in the form of a ‘long lost’ journal written by Claire. The following is an edited extract of that section of the novel, which has been reproduced by kind permission of Penguin Random House and Constable & Robinson.


Fictionalising 1816: A Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

treacherouslikeness copy

I do not remember, now, what first led us to talk of ghosts. No one could have known what would eventually come of it, and in any case it was entirely natural that our thoughts should tend in such a morbid direction, with the unquiet shadows cast by the guttering candles, and the wind howling about the walls like a banshee. I do recollect Byron coming down one night with a book of old German horror stories, and taking great delight in declaiming them to us in a loud and lurid voice. Shelley was in a state of the most excited animation, talking – babbling even – of how he had tried to raise ghosts when a boy and had once sat up all night in a charnel-house, reciting from a book of spells and hoping to see a ghastly spectre rise from the heaps of dry old bones. It sounded childish, spoken in that shrill, high-pitched tone that always came upon him in agitation, and I could see the sardonic sneer once again on the doctor’s face.

Byron then cast down his book with a theatrical gesture, declaring the thing to be contemptible trash and that surely our combined intellects could concoct a horror story worth the name. Better still, cried Shelley, let us each devise our own tale, and contend with one another to harrow up our souls and set our eyeballs starting from their spheres! His own eyes were hardly less frenzied at that moment and I could see Mary’s look of apprehension – she was concerned, always, to avoid any circumstance that might provoke a renewed attack, but Shelley was not to be gainsaid. He sought his notebook out at once, saying he had an idea for a story based on his own early life. Again I saw Mary’s look, again I saw the shadow of disquiet cross her face, but she said not a word. Polidori announced that he already had an idea for a story concerning a woman with a skull instead of a face. Shelley squealed with laughter at this, but then his face darkened with thought, or memory, and he cast himself into a chair by the fire, declaring that the most profound horror was to be found not in the artificial apparatus of the macabre, but in the terrible depths of even the truest-intentioned human heart. I can recall moments, he continued, his voice dropping to a whisper, when I have looked upon my own being with unutterable abhorrence, and started from my own company as if it were that of a fiend, seeking anything rather than a continued communion with self.

Mary went to him then, and spoke to him softly, putting her hand to his forehead and looking into his eyes. I could see she was telling him that the idea was ill-advised, that no good could come of it, but she could not dissuade him. Byron, meanwhile, had stretched himself full length on the chaise-longue and was dictating at great speed to Polidori, who was endeavouring to capture it all in his leather-bound notebook. As for me, I had tried my hand at writing once before, and Shelley had been kind enough to encourage me and tell me I had a talent worth nurturing, and I saw no reason therefore why I should not make an attempt at a ghost tale of my own. Mary did her best to discourage me, but I had long since shaken off the conviction so studiously borne in upon me as a child – and not least by her ‒ that it was fruitless, in our family, even to put pen to paper unless one could produce a work of such originality as would cast all other books into the shade. I could not refrain from an inward smile when I saw that she, indeed, seemed not a little fretful at having no immediate idea of her own to hand, but a question or two she subsequently asked Polidori about the discussion we had had of galvanism and electricity led me to believe that she was considering this as the basis of her tale. Though her tone appeared careless when she thanked him for his reply, I saw her go at once upstairs, to where she had stowed her writing-desk.

Claire Clairmont by Amelia Curran

Claire Clairmont by Amelia Curran

But to return to my story. We slept at the Diodati that night, as so often that fortnight, and when Byron made his appearance at luncheon the following day Shelley was already far advanced in his tale, his hair disordered and flecks of ink spattered on his hands. Mary sought to induce him to join us at table, but he shook her arm roughly away, and for the rest of the afternoon he sat there, his desk placed to face down towards the water, writing with one hand and with the other conveying currants and pieces of stale bread to his mouth from the pocket of his long grey coat. As the hours wore on the weather worsened, and we felt in the air the sulphurous onset of thunder. With the descent of darkness the wind swelled to a roar, and the flashes of lightning leaping from peak to peak lit up streaks of clouds racing across the angry sky, and the bowl of the lake seething like an alchemical crucible. As hour after hour passed it was clear that this vast collision of the elements was stimulating Shelley’s nerves to an almost painful pitch, while Byron, by contrast, was evidently aroused in quite another manner. So much so, indeed, that he and I adjourned discreetly to his room after dinner, leaving the others variously preoccupied about their books.

When I descended again the clock in the hall was striking half after eleven, and the storm was at its very height. And then as the hour of twelve struck, the drawing-room doors were thrown open with a splintering crack and a figure stood in the blue-white glare of a bolt of lightning, both arms outstretched, and draped in a black cloak and hood that reached down over his face. It was as if a monster from a Gothic novel had come that moment to life, or returned, a vampire glistering with the clammy dew of hell, from among the mouldering dead. I saw Shelley start aghast from his chair, even as a smile of ironic amusement slid across Polidori’s face. He knew, as I did, that this was exactly the sort of cruel jest Byron delighted most to play – had he not taunted me, only a few nights before, with dark insinuations that he was the father of his own sister’s child? My own nerves might withstand this latest prank, but I feared for Shelley, in his high-wrought state, after so many days caged up in such constraint. And for a moment – the briefest moment ‒ I wondered if Mary too had not believed it, for in the dazzle of the lightning I had glimpsed her face, and seen there not just horror but something that I should almost have called ecstasy.

But all this passed in an instant, for then Byron threw back his hood and laughed. And now, he said, with a sweep of his black-swathed arm, we will, at the midnight hour, read aloud what we have written. Mary began at once to protest, saying she had nothing to share, but Shelley, by contrast, appeared of all of us the most eager to begin. He went to close the shutters himself as the servants made up the fire and extinguished the lamps. As the room darkened we took our seats again about the fire, and the flames threw grotesque dancing shadows across the walls, transforming each of us in our turn from mortal to monster. Polidori, attentive but detached, ever the observer; Mary, folding her hands on her lap in seeming demureness, her real feelings betrayed only by the dead whiteness about her lips; and Shelley, passing strange, his eyelids drawn back as if in pain, and his breath coming fast and shallow.

Byron took his place in the centre of the circle, planted his feet apart and raised his arm, pointing slowly to each of us, one by one. And then he began, in sonorous tones, to recite. Not a piece of his own, but Christabel. Coleridge’s Christabel. And much as I have always hated it, I could not but agree that it was a fine choice for such a night, that gruesome tale of a serpent-witch taking the shape of a lost and innocent girl. We sat there, silent and motionless, as Byron’s voice mingled with the lashing of the rain against the glass and the boom of the thunder, close and far, and the room became by degrees ever more icy. The fire had risen to a blaze but seemed powerless to dispel the chill, which felt, at that moment, and in that strange and heightened atmosphere, the very ice of death. On and on he intoned, and as he approached the moment when the enchantress begins to disrobe, I could see Shelley becoming painfully restless, his hand at his side and his chest heaving with the effort for calm.

Beneath the lamp the lady bowed,
And slowly rolled her eyes around;
Then drawing in her breath aloud,
Like one that shuddered, she unbound
The cincture from beneath her breast:
Her silken robe, and inner vest,
Dropped to her feet, and full in view,
Behold! her bosom and half her side

Hideous, deformed, and pale of hue –

At that moment one of the shutters crashed open against the wall and Shelley staggered to his feet with a shriek of such anguish one might have thought his living heart was being torn from his breast. No – no! he cried, and ran sobbing and stumbling from the room. Mary rose at once, but Polidori prevented her and, consigning her to Byron’s care, seized the nearest candle and followed Shelley’s steps. Mary was by this time crying bitterly in his lordship’s arms and, not wishing to play the role of spectator where I was accustomed to that of principal, I made my way out into the hall. I thought only at first of getting a little air and dispelling the poisonous atmosphere of the saloon, but I heard at once the low sound of voices and perceived that Shelley had taken refuge in the breakfast room. There was a little closet next that chamber, and as the lightning flooded again through the windows and the thunder clove the air above me as if to sunder the very mountains, I pushed open the door and slid into the dark space.

Villa Diodati by Edward Finden after William Purser (Credit to "Shelley's Ghost" Exhibition, Bodleian Libraries)

Villa Diodati by Edward Finden after William Purser (Credit to “Shelley’s Ghost” Exhibition, Bodleian Libraries)

I do not think, to this day, that they knew I was there. Neither ever said so, and both, now, are long dead ‒ one by water, the other by his own hand. And certain it is that they gave no sign then. Silent still, I inched the connecting door open and saw Shelley lying on a couch on the far side of the room, his face and shirt soaking wet. It was clear at once that Polidori had thrown water in his face to quiet him, and I could see now that he was holding a cloth to Shelley’s face and adjuring him to breathe deeply. I watched then as Shelley appeared to slide slowly into a curious intermediate state; his body lulled to something like repose, but his tongue excited to a flood of bizarre and nonsensical chatter in which half-memories merged with true fears, and long-told lies struggled towards the light. He owned the truth, for the first time in my hearing, of Harriet and all that dire affair, but the next instant he was jabbering incoherently of a demon with his own face, and a nameless persecutor who refused to come to blows, which matched with nothing I knew – then or since ‒ of his history. And then my blood ran frozen as he described in heaving gasps how, as Byron was speaking, he had looked towards Mary and seen standing in her place the monstrous figure of a woman with her breasts uncovered, and eyes staring at him where her nipples should have been. He stammered that this horrifying vision had taken hold of his mind, and when Byron spoke then of the witch, and her deformed arm and bosom, the picture had come to his mind of a young girl he had known many years before, whose face still haunted his waking days, and would not let him rest. This, he whispered then, his eyes widening, was the story he was writing – this was the tale that would awaken those who read it to terror, and a sick fear of what lurked unseen in their own souls.

I heard the door to the drawing room open then, and Byron calling my name, and I slipped away.

I was not the only one of us to sleep badly that night, and when I ventured downstairs in the grey light of daybreak, I found Mary alone. She started when she saw me, like a guilty thing surprised. She has said, since, that it was this very morning that she announced to the assembled company that she had thought of a story. It is a lie: no such declaration was ever made, then or on any other day that summer. She was not at her desk writing that morning, when I discovered her, but on her hands and knees before the dying fire, feeding page after page into the flames – pages covered not with her own handwriting but with Shelley’s. She answered, when pressed, and with some irritation, that the story he had begun was making him ill – that she had found him sleep-walking again. Her duty, she said, with much emphasis on the word, was to prevent further such mischief, and thus it was that she had taken it upon herself to destroy what he had written. And what, I said, will he find to occupy him now, seeing as you have taken it upon yourself to burn his tale? That, Mary replied, was no concern of mine. Then she stirred the ashen ghosts of Shelley’s story with the poker, watched the flames lift for a moment, and turned on her heel and departed.

New BARS/UCSL Funding: Scottish Romanticism Research Award

BARS is very happy to announce a new research award in collaboration with the Universities Committee for Scottish Literature:

Postgraduates and postdoctoral scholars working in any area of Scottish literature (1740-1830) are invited to apply for the jointly funded BARS-UCSL Scottish Romanticism Research Award.  The executive committees of the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) and the Universities Committee for Scottish Literature (UCSL) have established the award to help fund expenses incurred through travel to Scottish libraries and archives, including universities other than the
applicant’s own, up to a maximum of £300.  A postgraduate may be a current or recent Master’s student (within two years of graduation) or a PhD candidate; a postdoctoral scholar is defined as someone who holds a PhD but does not hold a permanent academic post.  If appropriate, UCSL will endeavour to assign the awardee an academic liaison at one of its partner universities. For a list of partner universities please see

Successful applicants must be members of BARS before taking up the award (to join, please visit  The recipient will be announced on the BARS and UCSL websites, and he or she will be asked to submit a short report to the BARS Executive Committee, and to acknowledge BARS and UCSL in their doctoral thesis and/or any publication arising from the research trip.

Please send the following information in support of your application (up to two pages of A4 in .doc format):

  1. Your full name and institutional affiliation (if any).
  2. The working title and a short abstract or summary of your PhD or current project.
  3. Brief description of the research to be undertaken for which you need support.
  4. Libraries or institutions at which you will work.
  5. Estimated costing of proposed research trip.
  6. Estimated travel dates.
  7. Name of one supervisor/referee (with email address) to whom
    application can be made for a supporting reference on your behalf.

Applications and questions should be directed to the BARS bursaries officer, Dr Daniel Cook at the University of Dundee.  The deadline for applications is 1st June 2016.  You will be notified of the outcome of your application by the end of June.  The research trip must take place within a year (i.e. by 30th June 2017).

Conference Report: Authorship and Appropriation

Many thanks to James Morris, who has recently submitted his PhD at the University of Glasgow, for the following report on the Authorship and Appropriation conference that took place in Dundee last month.

Hosted by the Centre for Critical and Creative Cultures at the University of Dundee, the Authorship and Appropriation Conference was held on 8th and 9th of April 2016 and was organised by Dr Daniel Cook.  A packed schedule of 19 panels, two plenary lectures and a plenary roundtable made for an engaging, inspiring and lively conference which was defined by a warm and convivial atmosphere.  Seeking to create scholarly networks based upon the study of the ‘afterlives’ of artistic cultural productions, the Authorship and Appropriation Conference covered a broad range of themes including plagiarism and parody, filmic and operatic appropriations of literary texts, and the theories practices of editing and collaboration.

After a welcoming note from Dr Daniel Cook and the Centre’s director, Professor Mark Robson, the conference began with three parallel sessions.  Luckily enough for me, my panel, ‘Appropriation and Identity’, was up in the first slot.  It is a testament to the decentred and innovative approach to the conference themes that my paper, ‘Orientalist Plagiarism, Protofeminism and the Appropriation of Genre in Phebe Gibbes’ Hartly House, Calcutta (1789)’ was paired with Ruth Menzies’ (Aix-Marseille Université) ‘Appropriation and Identity in Natasha Soobramanien’s Genie and Paul’.  Both engaged with eighteenth-century literature: my paper explored Gibbes’ extension of the sentimental novel, while Menzies accounted for Soobramanien’s contemporary reworking and appropriation of Bernadin de Saint-Pierre’s 1788 romance, Paul et Virginie.  Considering the ways that literary models and narratives are appropriated to address diverse issues including national and gendered identities, both papers examined authorial manipulations of plot and form in their analysis of the conference themes.

The second panel I attended, ‘Gulliveriana’, was organised according to a similarly decentred understanding of authorship and appropriation.  Alice Colombo (NUI Galway) provided an engaging discussion of the reception and popularity of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) in nineteenth-century Italy.  Exploring the ways in which paratextual elements of the work, including Walter Scott’s 1814 preface, as well as J.J. Grandville’s illustrations, impacted upon the reception of Swift in Italy, Colombo’s paper, ‘The popularity and popularisation of Gulliver’s Travel’s in nineteenth-century Italy: a paratextual perspective’, provided an important discussion of the transnationalisation of Swift’s eighteenth-century satire.  Réka Major (Eötvös University) offered an equally insightful reading of the intertextual allusions to Swift in A.S. Byatt’s short story, ‘Baglady’ (1998).  Using the dialogue between Swift’s poetry and A.S. Byatt’s prose fiction to examine the construction of gendered ideologies in modern society, Major’s paper, ‘Bleeding lipstick and flaking skin: Myths of the ageing woman in A.S. Byatt and Jonathan Swift’, demonstrated the importance of looking to the past to help to define the present.

After a brief coffee break delegates were invited to attend either the third parallel session of the day, or to a screening of David Lean’s classic film adaptation of Great Expectations (1946).  Despite the lure of Martita Hunt’s eerie Miss Havisham I attended the pre-fabricated session, ‘Appropriation as Cultural Transmission in the Eighteenth-Century Periodical Press’.  Offered by researchers from the University of Kent’s Leverhulme-funded Lady’s Magazine project, this insightful panel untangled the knotted and diffuse history of ‘appropriation’ and reuse in the periodical publications of the late eighteenth century.  Careful to never use the word plagiarism, Jenny DiPlacidi, Kim Simpson and Koenraad Claes provided their audience with an entertaining view into their complex work on the republication of poetry and prose in the latter decades of the eighteenth century.  Jenny DiPlacidi’s, ‘“Full of pretty stories”: Literary Afterlives in the First Series of the Lady’s Magazine’ traced the appearance and reuse of Gothic conventions in the late eighteenth century press.  Expanding the parameters of the female Gothic, DiPlacidi’s paper demonstrated the long history of tropes regularly credited to Anne Radcliffe.  Kim Simpson’s presentation, ‘Anomalous and Anonymous: Locating Links and Chasing Tales in Amatory Fiction and Beyond’ offered a compelling reinvestigation of the links between amatory fiction and the periodical press.  Simpson’s original approach also allowed for an important mapping of the triangulation of influence between anonymous and attributed fictions.  Koenraad Claes closed the panel with his paper, ‘Poetics of appropriation: re-occasioned occasional verse in the Lady’s Magazine’.  Short lyric poems which recounted the poet’s emotional response to specific events, the occasional verse submitted to the Lady’s Magazine, as Claes’ presentation ably demonstrated, were often appropriations of earlier works.  Considering notions of intellectual property in combination with subversions of emotional authenticity, Claes’ paper offered an enlightening view into the circuits of appropriation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century periodical.

After the close of the first day’s panel presentations came Professor Michael Burden’s (New College, Oxford) plenary, ‘Hijacking Virtue: Richardson’s Pamela and the rise of sentimental opera’.  Exploring operatic adaptations of Richardson’s seminal novel, Burden’s plenary offered a hugely informative view of the interconnectedness of operatic and literary traditions in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Providing his audience with a detailed booklet of illustrations, Burden’s plenary aptly represented the interdisciplinary ethos of the Authorship and Appropriation conference.

Ahead of the conference dinner at a local restaurant, Dr Daniel Cook and Dr Nicholas Seager (Keele University) launched their edited collection, The Afterlives of Eighteenth Century Fiction.  Featuring essays from the plenary speakers at the Authorship and Appropriation conference, Cook’s and Seager’s volume also offers a host of other engaging essays which are representative of the burgeoning field of scholarship surrounding appropriation and adaptation.

Despite conversations continuing well into the evening after the conference dinner, everyone was back at the Dalhousie Building bright and early on Saturday morning to hear Dr Nicholas Seager’s entertaining plenary, ‘ Tristram Shandy Adapted and Appropriated: Michael Winterbottom’s A Cock and Bull Story and Martin Rowson’s Graphic Novel’.  Offering insights into the afterlives of Sterne’s innovative approach in contemporary film and fiction, Seager’s engaging paper explored the ‘metafilmic’ and metafictional devices in modern appropriations of Tristram Shandy.

After the plenary, delegates broke-up for panel sessions.  The first panel that I attended, ‘Reframing Institutions’, offered two excellent papers from Ania Grant (University of Auckland) and Wendy Fall (Marquette University).  Unfortunately Ania Grant was unable to present her paper herself, but the panel chair, Laura Kirkley (University of Newcastle), kindly delivered Ania’s fascinating paper entitled, ‘Marrying Mr Collins: Marriage of Convenience from Pride and Prejudice to Bridget Jones’s Diary’.  Amusing and insightful, Grant’s paper explored film adaptations of Austen’s texts and traced differing attitudes toward marriage as a financial institution in modern retellings of Pride and Prejudice.  Wendy Fall’s presentation, ‘Matthew Lewis: The Nationalist Plagiarist’, was similarly informative.  Charged by his critics as a plagiarist, Lewis’s appropriations of French and German sources, as Fell pointed out, were used by the novelist in The Monk (1796) to promote patriotic virtues in the face of Revolutionary upheaval in France.

The ‘Romanticism and the Early Modern’ panel saw presentations from Andrew Farrow (University College, Cork) and John Lavagnino (King’s College, London).  Farrow’s presentation, ‘Blake’s Chaucer: The Extent to Which William Blake’s Mythological “Nation” is Informed by His Perceptions of Chaucer in Medieval England’, provided an original study of the influence of Chaucer on Blake’s ‘eternised’ mythological system.  John Lavagnino’s paper, ‘Lamb’s Expurgation of Early Modern Drama’, offered a comprehensive evaluation of the unintended outcomes of Charles Lamb’s editorial practice.  Showing the ways in which Lamb’s removal of ‘indelicate’ passages from Early Modern dramas actually promoted an interest in unbowdlerised editions, Lavagnino’s paper provided a nuanced account of the influence of Early Modern drama in the Romantic period.

Representative of the conference’s aims to promote discussion across academic disciplines, the penultimate panel of the day, ‘History/Fiction/ Film’, covered a diverse range of themes from the vogue for Russian cinema in the 1920s, to postmodern appropriations of the eighteenth-century novel.  In his paper, ‘Complications of an afterlife: a work by Leo Tolstoy re-interpreted by later film-makers’, Stuart Campbell (University of Glasgow) provided an informative account of the Hollywood-style films of Russian émigré film-makers in 1920s Germany.  Developing considerations of filmic and operatic appropriations of literature, Campbell argued that films and operas should be measured by the criteria of their own genre rather than upon their proximity to their original source.  By way of engaging contrast, Stewart Cooke’s (McGill University) ‘“Received Melodies”: The New, Old Novel’, explored the prevalence of appropriation in postmodern fiction.  Discussing the works of a number of novelists including John Barth and John Fowles, Cooke’s paper analysed postmodern appropriations of eighteenth century fictions and demonstrated the generative tension between the old and new in literary production.

The final panel that I attended, ‘Rewriting Scotland’, was funded by the Centre for Scottish Culture at the University of Dundee.  Katrin Berndt’s (University of Bremen) paper, ‘This Side of the Event Horizon:  Metaphorical Appropriations of Science in the Writing of Pippa Goldschmidt’ considered Goldschmidt’s poetry and prose.  Examining the Scottish writer’s breaking of barriers between the artistic and the scientific, Berndt’s paper offered a thought-provoking account of Goldschmidt’s attempts to define the reciprocal exchange between literary forms and scientific knowledge.  Appropriately for a conference held in Dundee, Erin Farley’s paper, ‘The Many Afterlives of William McGonagall’, provided a lively and entertaining discussion of William McGonagall’s place in popular culture after his death in 1902.  A target for mockery in books, film and television, McGonagall has been the subject of a spoof  biopic, and has been immortalised as a character in The Muppets.  Showing how the ‘idea’ of McGonagall has come to define his place in popular culture, Farley’s paper identified a process of ‘reverse-appropriation’ in which anonymous couplets and verse, which bear little resemblance to McGonagall’s actual poetry, are regularly attributed to the poet in the popular imagination.

In the closing plenary roundtable the conference organisers and plenary speakers discussed various routes for future collaboration, with a greater dialogue between studies of translation and appropriation being one of the many exciting ideas raised.  As with all of the best conferences, however, the sheer number of excellent papers was both a joy and a frustration.  Short of being able to be in two places at once, I picked panels based upon my own research interests and I am sure to have missed a number of exciting presentations across different sessions. Helpfully, the organisers at Dundee have set up a research network website,, where it is possible to read the abstracts of all delegates, and to become involved in the network.  Judging by the lively dialogues at the conference, I am certain that there will be a number of exciting developments in the near future.  Many thanks to Dr Daniel Cook and all the organisers at Dundee for making the Authorship and Appropriation Conference such an enjoyable and informative weekend.

James M. Morris (University of Glasgow)