News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Archive for July 2016

BARS PG/ECR Conference, ‘Romantic Voices’: Conference Report

Here is a report by Michael Falk (PhD Candidate at the University of Kent) on the Early Career and Postgraduate Conference for the British Association for Romantic Studies, ‘Romantic Voices 1760-1840’. The conference was held on the 22nd-23rd June 2016 at the Radcliffe Humanities Building, Oxford, in association with TORCH, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. The keynotes were Dr Freya Johnston (University of Oxford) and Professor Simon Kövesi (Oxford Brookes University). You can see the CFP here.


‘Romantic Voices 1760-1840’: Conference Report by Michael Falk

The steamy atmosphere of the referendum had descended, and we were all a little queasy. Few had escaped the national mood of uncertainty and division, even if for many it was offset by a frisson of hope and rebellion.

Well, there we were, a group of young researchers with uncertain prospects ourselves, come to rifle through the treasure-chest of British culture and uncover some new trinkets if we could. And many unexpected treasures there were. We were treated to an encomium of Jane Marcet’s dialogues, an analysis of Anna Barbauld’s childrens’ books, and a digital map of Romantic sounds in the Lake District. Yearsley was extolled as a great mystic, Clare as a protean and mischievous talker, and Southey as a bizarrely inaccurate (though politically rather interesting) writer of kangaroo poetry in newspapers. The old titans were all there too, and it was a welcome relief from some months of mendacity and ill-temper in the public sphere when Wordsworth, Blake or the Shelleys opened their mouths and some real English came out.

The ‘Voices’ theme, unlike so many conference themes, really set the tone. The keynotes and workshops were an opportunity for us young’uns to reflect on our academic voices. How to talk to bureaucracy? How to talk to our students? How to talk to the public? How to talk to each other?—these were the big questions posed by Watson, Kövesi and Johnston. The papers, meanwhile, explored voice as a formal structure (How did Byron’s notions of translation shape his voice in Don Juan? What are the ins-and-outs of the conversational form in didactic literature?) and voice as, well, the tool real people speak with (How did the Shelleys talk to one another about Mary’s prose and Percy’s poetry? Which women did Helen Maria Williams talk about?).

The conference dinner was also rather cacophonous, though the Turl Street Kitchen has a good acoustic and it wasn’t unpleasant. The Scotch Eggs were the big hit of the night, and next I’m in Oxford I’ll demand a truckload.

It was a strange thing to wake up the morning after, and feel a hangover despite my nocturnal sobriety. My phone informed me that my team had lost, and it filled the world with a hollowness it took some days to shatter. At the station, however, I saw a lady marvelling at the newsstand. She picked five or six different papers off the shelves, and as she queued to pay, she couldn’t help shuffling through them, drinking in the front pages with an irrepressible grin. People used to think the universe had a voice, and that the only real truth was whatever it happened to say. I think I’m more content to live in a world of many voices, even if it’s sometimes a rather difficult and frustrating place to be.

& some tweets from the conference…

Copley Report: Colleen English

Colleen English was one of a number of BARS members who were awarded Stephen Copley Research Awards earlier this year.  Below, she gives an account of the research that the award assisted her with completing.

The Stephen Copley Research Award partially funded my research trip to London in mid-June 2016 to consult manuscript and print materials in the British Library and the Wellcome Library. The Award enabled me to consult material crucial both to my monograph project, “Writing the Dead: Epitaphs, Elegies and Communities of Sentiment in Romantic Ireland” and to an article I am preparing for publication on John Keats’s poetry and the scientific process of embalming corpses.

My monograph project, based on my PhD thesis, examines how the preoccupation with grief and loss in Irish poetry of the Romantic and early Victorian periods is informed by shifting historical contexts as well as by intellectual history, especially British empiricist philosophy. In moving away from the strict taxonomies of elegy toward a modal understanding of the poetics of mourning, this project focuses on the ways in which Irish poets, namely Mary Tighe, Thomas Moore, and James Clarence Mangan understood grief as a type of sympathy that enabled cross-cultural exchange between Ireland and England.

Since the project is focused on the cultural and political importance of mourning, the debates in the House of Lords in the 1820s surrounding the burial of dissenters and Roman Catholics in Protestant churchyards in Ireland is especially relevant. The Irish Burial Act is discussed in some detail in the correspondences of Lord Wellesley, who was the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland 1821-1827 and 1833-1834, and whose letters (many of which are unpublished) are held in the British Library’s collection. The opportunity to consult these materials, which include a copy of the amended Burial Act with Lord Wellesley’s remarks in the margins, greatly enhanced my understanding of the contested space of the churchyard in Ireland during this period.

I also consulted E.R. Moran’s papers concerning Thomas Moore. Included in the material was a book of newspaper cuttings about Moore’s poetry with Moran’s annotations in the margins. The book is organized by poem, so that the entry for Moore’s “Oh! Breathe Not His Name” also includes other poems written either in response to the poem or its subject, Robert Emmet’s final speech, making it possible to clearly see the reception of Moore’s poetry both in Ireland and England.

One of the highlights of my visit to the British Library was the opportunity to view one of the fifty privately printed copies of Mary Tighe’s epic poem Psyche (1805). The book also contains manuscript copies (written in an unknown hand) of two of Tighe’s poems in addition to a letter from Tighe to Mrs. Fox.

In the Wellcome Library I consulted books and manuscripts relating to the embalming process as it was practiced in the early nineteenth century, as well as texts pertaining to John Keats’s medical training. The anatomists John and William Hunter and their nephew, Matthew Baillie are important figures in my study as they made great advancements in the practice of embalming in the latter part of the eighteenth century. The opportunity to consult their letters gave me a fuller sense of their accomplishments and collaborations. The lecture notes of an anonymous student of John Hunter’s served to expand my understanding of the way that Hunter conceived of the communication between different nerves and organs in the human body as a kind of physiological sympathy.

Thanks to the generous support of BARS I was able to benefit from the rich array of manuscripts in the British Library and Wellcome Library collections, deepening my understanding of the affective properties of these texts and of the historical context in which they were produced, resulting in significant revisions to my monograph project and great advances made towards the completion of my essay on Keats. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to BARS for awarding me the Stephen Copley award, without which this research would not have been possible.

Dr. Colleen English, University College Dublin

On This Day in 1816: 18 July, apocalypse, and Byron’s ‘Darkness’

July’s ‘On This Day’ post is by Patrick Vincent, Professor of English and American literature at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. With Angela Esterhammer and Diane Piccitto, he recently published Rousseau, Romanticism, Switzerland: New Prospects (Palgrave 2015). This year he helped organize the “Byron is Back! ” exhibition at Chillon Castle as part of the bicentenary commemoration of the summer of 1816.

In the post below he considers the way in which the idea of apocalypse shaped the writing of those present during the 1816 Geneva summer, and the extant sources (including the weather reports) that tell us about early July 1816.

We are looking for future contributors to this series, which seeks to celebrate the 200th anniversaries of important literary/historical events of the Romantic Period. Please contact if you are interested.


On this Day: 18 July 1816

by Patrick Vincent


When the last sunshine of the expiring day

In summer’s twilight weeps itself away,

Who hath not felt the softness of the hour

Sink on the heart—as dew along the flower?

– Byron, “Monody on the Death of the Righ Honourable R.B. Sheridan”


On 18 July 1816, the world was expected to come to an end. As Jeffrey Vail and others have noted, an astronomer in Bologna had predicted that the sun would die out on that day, an event often associated with Byron’s composition of the deeply pessimistic “Darkness.” Although we are unsure when the poet composed his apocalyptic dream vision, we do know that he wrote another poem thematizing the sun’s disappearance, the “Monody on the Death of the Righ Honourable R.B. Sheridan” sometime between 7 July 1816, when Richard Sheridan died, and 22 July, when Byron sent the poem to Douglas Kinnaird. Possibly inspired by a Lake Geneva sunset, this lesser known work rehearses many of the same themes as the summer’s other literary productions, most notably its strange atmospheric conditions. The poem’s controlling symbol, the sun is represented as “a Power” that “Hath pass’d from day to darkness”, yet whose “Promethean heat” will forever continue “to cast its halo” in spite of the “public gaze”, which makes “Hearts electric—charged with light from heaven / Black with the rude collision”.

In 1826, the painter William Edward West reported an anecdote in which Byron apparently attributed the composition of “Darkness” to a “celebrated dark day, on which the fowls went to roost at noon, and the candles were lighted as at midnight.” I have come across no other evidence that such a day occured on or around 18 July, or ever at all, yet the story has contributed to 1816’s gothic reputation. Byron’s prodigious literary productivity during his time in Switzerland, in particular in July when he composed the “Monody,” “Prometheus,” “Stanzas to Augusta” and perhaps also “Darkness” in addition to finishing and correcting Childe Harold III and The Prisoner of Chillon, strikes me as more significant than the Genevan summer’s overly rehashed gothic incidents. It is as if the poet refused to allow the weather, European politics, or even his exile extinguish his own Promethan heat. And while the “Monody” suggests the sun’s extinction may indeed have been a topic of conversation at Diodati, the opening lines’ calm, elegiac tone better captures villa’s daily routine and largely unremarkable incidents than do the many dark and doomsdayish accounts of 1816.

Primary sources for the month of July 1816 are scarcer than for the rest of the summer: Polidori had stopped keeping his diary on 2 July, Mary only began hers on the first day of their Chamonix excursion on the 21st, and Byron was either too depressed, or more likely, too busy writing and sailing to keep a regular correspondence. Through Lady Frances Shelley’s diary and several other contemporary accounts, we know that the poet’s nemesis, Henry Brougham, had arrived in town along with 1100 other English visitors, some of whom enjoyed playing cricket at Plainpalais, others spreading gossip on Diodati’s scandalous household. We also know that Byron and Polidori went to Coppet for the first time on 12 July, where the second Duchess of Devonshire pretended to faint and the poet discussed Glenarvon with Madame de Staël. In Geneva’s register of foreigners, we can read that the two men received their permis de séjour the next day. Claire’s two undated notes in July reveal that things between her and Byron had soured—her attemtps at finding a pretext to see him, notably by fair copying his poems, are sure signs of his rejection. Finally, in a lesser known anecdote recorded by a town magistrate and discovered by Claire Eliane Engel, we learn that thieves tried to break into Diodati on 17 July, inciting the Cologny mayor to make an inquiry.





Marc-Auguste Pictet, Tableau des observations météorologiques faites au Jardin Botanique de Genève, July 1816, in Bibliothèque universelle, Sciences et Arts, volume 2 (Genève: Bibliothèque britannique, 1816).


Another important source, the daily meteorological recordings published in the Bibliothèque universelle indicate the weather that month was not as dramatic as often portrayed: a recent meteorological study based on this data argues that it was the summer’s climate that was extreme, not its weather. The sky was indeed overcast, the temperature lower than the seasonal norms, and it rained an unusual amount, causing flooding around all Switzerland’s lakes, yet the summer also had its good days. On July 17th, for instance, it was 10 degrees and raining, on the 18th it warmed to 16 degrees at 2pm but was still overcast, and the next day the temperature climbed to 20 degrees, allowing Lady Shelley to complain in her diary of the excessive heat. Apocalyptic fears nevertheless did make some headway among Geneva’s well-educated and usually staid populace. In his less than reliable memoirs published in 1883, for example, Jean-François Vernes-Prescott recalls that “sermons were attended assiduously” (“les prédications sont très suivis”). Furthermore, a brief article on the first page of the local Gazette de Lausanne on 19 July (the same day that Sheridan’s death and Brougham’s arrival in Geneva were reported) cites Parisian astronomer Charles Rouy’s popular demonstrations at the Muséeum uranographique in order to help dispell these superstitions:


 Les taches actuellement visibles sur le soleil, le froid, et les pluyes extraordinaires dans cette saison étant devenus l’objet de toutes les conversations et d’une crainte presque générale de la prochaine extinction de ce flambeau de notre système planétaire, et par conséquent de la fin du monde, M. Rouy a cru devoir contribuer à dissiper les craintes chimériques que la malveillance et la superstition se plaisent à propager. C’est dans ce but qu’il ajouté aux démonstations qu’il fait chaque soir dans son muséum uranographique le représentation des sudites taches sur le disque du soleil, en y ajoutant l’explication de ce phénomène (p. 1)


[Translation: The spots currently visible on the sun, the cold, and the rain that is out of the ordinary at this season have become the topic of all conversations and an almost universal source of fear that the planetary system’s flame will soon die out, hence ending the world. As such, M. Rouy has thought it necessary to help dissipate these chimerical fears propagated by malevolence and superstition. With that goal in mind he added a representation of these sun spots to his evening demonstrations at his Muséum uranographique, together with an explanation of this phenomenon.]


As he noted in his 20 July letter to Kinnaird, Byron intended his “Monody” to be delivered with “Energy” at Drury Lane. One may argue that poem likewise shares Rouy’s skepticism regarding the possibility of the sun’s extinction, and might be read as a hopeful counterpoint to “Darkness,” dissipating the forces of superstition and fear that belittle man’s genius.



La Gazette de Lausanne et Journal Suisse, Friday 19 July 1816


Far more worrisome than these imaginary apocalyptic warnings was the all-too-real suffering, already much discussed in this blog, brought upon by the end of the wartime economy, the rain and the cold, but also poor government planning, as historian Daniel Krämer has recently shown. These elements are arguably more important to the genesis of “Darkness” than the Bologna prophecy itself. The Gazette de Lausanne regularly reported the hardships but always in its backpages, stating on 16 July for example that snow fell in the Bernese Alps and that cattle had to be killed because of lack of feed. The Bibliothèque universelle in July commented that all the harvests were late, and potatoes rotting. Unlike in other regions of Switzerland, the Genevan government was able to avoid a famine thanks to its emergency storehouse of grain and government intervention in the sale and pricing of flour. As Lady Shelley commented, “Scarcity, owing to the destruction of crops, has been felt here also, and white bread is forbidden, under an amende of eight louis d’or.” Thanks to a letter that emerged at an auction in 1975, we know that Byron and Shelley were also aware of the situation. Writing to his friend Peacock on 17 July to describe his tour around Lake Geneva with Byron, Shelley adds at the end of the letter as a sort of afterthought: “Affairs here are rather in a desperate condition. The magistrates of Geneva have prohibited the making of white bread.—all ranks of people are in the greatest distress.—I earnestly hope that England at least will escape.” The passage was curiously cut from the published version of the letter in History of a Six Weeks Tour, however, as if these problems were not important enough to impinge on their memories of the Swiss summer. On 17 September, to his credit, Byron donated three hundred francs to the pastor of Cologny in order to help the poor. He then took off on his tour of the Alps, the weather having at last turned warm and sunny.


Works Cited

Auchmann, S. Brönnimann, L. Breda, M. Bühler, R. Spadin, and A. Stickler, “Extreme Climate, Not Extreme Weather: the Summer of 1816 in Geneva, Switzerland,” Climate of the Past, 8 (24 February 2012), pp. 325-335,


Lord Byron, Byron’s Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie Marchand, 13 volumes (London: John Murray, 1973-1984), vol. 5.


Lord Byron, Monody on the Death of the Righ Honourable R.B. Sheridan, London: John Murray, 1816.


Claire Clairmont, The Clairmont Correspondence: Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont, and Fanny Imlay Godwin, ed. Marion Kingston Stocking, 2 volumes (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1995), vol. 1.


Claire-Eliane Engel, Byron et Shelley en Suisse et en Savoie, mai-octobre 1816 (Chambéry: Dardel, 1930).


Daniel Krämer, Menschen grasten nun mit dem Vieh: Die letzte grosse Hungerkrise der Schweiz (Basel: Schwabe, 2015).


Gazette de Lausanne:


Marc-Auguste Pictet, “Tableau des observations météorologiques,” Bibliothèque universelle, Sciences et Arts, volume 2 (Genève: Bibliothèque britannique, 1816).


Registre des permis de séjour. Archives de l’Etat de Genéve. Cote D. Etrangers, n. 3


Lady Frances Shelley, The Diary of Lady Shelley, ed. Richard Edgecumbe, London: John Murray, vol. 1.


Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Unpublished letter to Thomas Love Peacock, 17 July 1816.” In Donald Reiman and Doucet Devin Fischer, eds. Shelley and his Circle 1773-1822 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1986), vol. 7, pp. 28-34.


Jean-François Vernes-Prescott, Causeries d’un octagénaire genevois (Geneva: Jules Carey 1883).


Jeffrey Vail, “ ‘The Bright Sun was Extinguis’d’: The Bologna Prophecy and Byron’s Darkness,” Wordsworth Circle 28 (1997), pp. 183-192.


William Edward West, “Byron’s Last portrait,” The New Monthly Magazine, vol 16 (1826), pp. 246-247.




Five Questions: Michael Bradshaw on Disabling Romanticism

Disabling Romanticism

Michael Bradshaw is Professor and Head of the Department of English, History & Creative Writing at Edge Hill University.  He has previously taught at a number of different institutions in Britain and Japan and has published on a wide range of Romantic-period subjects, including Thomas Hood, the poetry of the 1820s and 1830s, Walter Savage Landor, Romantic drama, George Darley, fragment poems and Thomas Lovell Beddoes.  His latest publication is a collaborative endeavour: the essay collection Disabling Romanticism, which has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan.  Below, we discuss the contexts for this collection and the new intellectual contributions that it makes to the field of Romantic Studies.

1) What first made you want to put together a collection on Romanticism and disability?

Critical disability studies (DS) is an expanding field; its impact is being felt across the full range of arts and Humanities disciplines.  I was particularly interested in the potential of critical DS to re-contextualise and re-interpret historical literature.  Being a Romanticist, I thought it was time this connection was made more explicit and visible.  I was also curious to find out how much independent scholarship was already going on ‘out there’; there seemed to be a timely opportunity to create a more prominent conversation in our subject about how bodily and mental difference is represented, and to co-ordinate an emerging theme.  The intersection of Romanticism and disability was established in Andrew Elfenbein’s well-regarded issue of European Romantic Review devoted to Byron’s lameness (2001).  Fifteen years later, it must be time to take stock again, and extend the debate to a more diverse range of texts and authors – Coleridge and addiction, Darley and speech therapy, Frankenstein and autism, Mary Robinson’s paralysis, and so on.

In terms of my own previous research, I have interests in ‘anatomy literature’ and critical / theoretical themes which foreground the body, which are conducive to a DS approach to texts.  I recently wrote an article on the poet Thomas Hood which observes his apparent fascination with amputation and prosthesis; although it fell outside the scope of that particular discussion, which was about anxiety and laughter, I thought there was another story to tell there, that texts and images which represent bodily difference for whatever apparent purpose should be put into contact with the historical lived experience of disability in the Romantic period.

2) How did you set about gathering your contributors?

I put out a brief CFA via subject networks such as BARS and NASSR.  There were one or two colleagues whose work I knew, whom I was able to contact directly.  But in general the team came to me, in response to the CFA.  I wanted this to be an edited collection from the outset, so I didn’t go through the preliminary stage of building a network with a themed conference.

3) Your introduction opens by contending that ‘dominant critical practices associated with Romantic studies continue to marginalise and disable the different in body and mind’.  What do you think are the most significant benefits to be gained through working to counter this marginalisation?

Historicist scholarship has had a lot to say over the years about race and ethnicity, about gender and sexuality, about nation and empire, and about socio-economic class as well; but a proper re-assessment of literature and criticism in terms of disability has been much slower to emerge.  Hopefully, this book will be a step forward in that process: it will help to raise awareness, and accelerate further development.

The introduction tries to give a sense of how intrinsic concepts of disability, incompleteness, and deformity are to many of the distinctive themes of Romanticism; and consequently, it draws attention to how marginalised and hidden disabled experience has been.  For example, the fragment poem – one of the signature forms of Romantic writing – connects transcendence with incompleteness.  The fragment projects beyond the arbitrary boundaries of the text into an ideal space, but it’s the present experience of incompleteness or brokenness which makes this possible.  The theme of disability has always been latent in critical debates about fragmentary texts, it seems to me.

Re-reading literature from a DS approach also involves interrogating our reliance on metaphor.  Disability metaphors are very widespread, but sometimes seem to pass almost unnoticed.  So when an instance of blindness is said to evoke a sense of ‘inner vision’ or spirituality, a DS critic might want to question that in terms of symbolic appropriation, and to test the idea in terms of the historical lived experience of blindness.  Cognitive difference and mental illness are already better established in Romantic studies, I would say, in that the Romantic cult of the creative mind has long been connected to alternative mental states.  But in terms of physical and sensory impairment, there is a lot of work still to be done – a lot of re-reading in terms of challenging negative images, and reclaiming agency.

These are just examples, of course; it’s a big and diverse field.

4) To what extent do you conceive of the collection as providing a series of discrete case studies sensitive to the individualities of the people and works it considers, and to what extent you think that larger narratives about the history of disabilities and attitudes to them can be traced within it?

I think it has to be both these things.  I like the specific case study approach, and don’t feel the need to subsume studies of specific texts and authors, or make them obedient to a meta-narrative or agenda.  I felt it was important for the collection to be a ‘broad church’ and to include some different methodologies.  So there are some chapters written from a very committed DS / disability theory perspective, and others which are less ideological in approach, contextual studies of disability themes in Romantic writing.  I thought there should be space for all these things.  I think breadth of methodology is important for a book like this to stay current, and to achieve its aim of promoting further debate; I would like to reach not only professional academics, but also students of Romanticism looking for new challenges and possibilities.

Having said that, the book can be seen in the context of a larger ongoing project to challenge the exclusion of disabled experience in academic discourse.  David Bolt and Claire Penketh’s Disability, Avoidance and the Academy (London: Routledge, 2016) gives a good overview of this debate.

In terms of content, I’m really pleased that we’ve not only managed to cover some of the key canonical texts and authors – we have our Byron chapter, our Frankenstein chapter, our chapter on Lyrical Ballads, etc. – but also some less familiar figures, such as George Darley, Richard Payne Knight, and Mary Robinson.

5) You and Essaka Joshua write in the introduction that you see the book in part as a means ‘to promote further research and discussion’.  Are there particular directions that you think could fruitfully be further explored, or particular works or figures that you think could be re-examined using the critical tools that the collection provides?

At this point, that’s for other to decide.  But I think the book shows that a DS approach to Romantic literature can be very comprehensive, working in terms of historical / social context and author biography, and also at the level of close analysis of textual form and genre.  I would be interested to see some interdisciplinary work analysing literary texts and visual images of disability themes, perhaps facilitated by the Romantic Illustration NetworkDisabling Romanticism is specific to Romantic literature; there are equivalent complementary studies of eighteenth-century literature, Gothic, and Victorian culture also ongoing.  I’m sure we’ll see some exciting new scholarship on these themes in the coming years.

I hope the book can also help readers to look at familiar texts afresh.  As Peter Kitson and Tom Shakespeare generously write in their Foreword: ‘Who, after reading the essays in this collection, will ever read the opening lines of Percy Shelley’s ‘England in 1819’ with its vivid depiction of George III as an “old, mad, blind, despised and dying king” in quite the same way?’

Nineteenth-Century Matters: Chawton House Library 2016-17

Please see below for an exciting opportunity for early career researchers who do not currently hold a permanent position.  This is a new collaboration between BARS and BAVS, brokered by Jo Taylor and Matthew Ward, with the help of Gillian Dow.

Nineteenth-Century Matters: Chawton House Library 2016-17


Nineteenth-Century Matters is a new initiative jointly run by the British Association for Romantic Studies and the British Association for Victorian Studies.  It is aimed at postdoctoral researchers who have completed their PhD, but who are not currently employed in a full-time academic post.  Nineteenth-Century Matters will offer these unaffiliated early career researchers a platform from which to organise professionalization workshops and research seminars on a theme related to nineteenth-century studies, 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 Chawton House Library and the University of Southampton.  This fellowship includes a University of Southampton e-mail address, and access to its library and electronic resources for the full academic year.  It will also provide accommodation at Chawton House Library throughout January, where the fellow will be free to develop their research and make the most of the wealth of resources held in the library.  In return, the ECR will organise a research and professionalization event on a theme relevant to Chawton’s collections, participate in a ‘state of the field’ session to be held at Chawton during the tenure of their fellowship, and acknowledge BARS, BAVS, and Chawton House Library in any publications that arise from the fellowship.

Application Process

Interested parties should submit their CV, along with a two-page proposal on their research topic, details of the event they would organise at Chawton House Library, and an outline of why they would benefit from the fellowship.  Applications should be sent to, or by 12th August.

A .pdf of these details can be downloaded here.

Conference Report, ‘Summer of 1816: Creativity and Turmoil’, University of Sheffield

Summer of 1816: Creativity and Turmoil (24-27 June, University of Sheffield)

Conference report by Carly Stevenson


On an aptly stormy weekend in June, the University of Sheffield hosted an international conference commemorating the bicentenary of the infamous summer of 1816, when P.B. Shelley, Mary Godwin (later Shelley), Lord Byron, John Polidori and Claire Claremont gathered to share ghost stories at the Villa Diodati in Geneva. Organised by Professor Angela Wright and Dr Madeleine Callaghan, this conference celebrated the extraordinary literary output of this circle with a diverse array of papers from scholars in the fields of Romanticism, Gothic, eighteenth and nineteenth century studies.

Jane Stabler

Jane Stabler

On the Friday, keynote speakers Jerrold Hogle, Jane Stabler and Michael O’Neill lead a series of masterclasses for postgraduates and early careers researchers before the conference began in full the following day. After the first day of papers, Michael O’Neill gave a plenary lecture that examined the ways in which Byron and the Shelleys influenced each other in 1816-17. Afterwards, delegates headed over to 99 Mary Street for the conference dinner and drinks. This event was followed by another full day of parallel panels on the Sunday, rounded off with Jane Stabler’s poignant plenary lecture on Mary Shelley’s transcriptions of Byron’s poems. After Stabler’s keynote, the winners of the ‘Creativity and Turmoil’ ghost story competition were announced. Delegates were then given some free time to explore the city before the final day of the conference. After the last panel on Monday morning, Jerrold Hogle delivered his closing plenary lecture on the ‘Gothic Image’ as manifested in the ‘hideous progenies’ produced from the Diodati gathering in 1816. Hogle’s lecture crystallised a recurring theme of this conference: the fraught yet undeniably interwoven relationship between Gothic and Romantic literature, which the Diodati party were instrumental in shaping.


Jerrold Hogle

Finally, the remaining delegates set out on a conference excursion to Castleton to see the ancient ‘Devil’s Arse’ Peak Cavern that Byron had ventured into during his youth. Delegates had the opportunity to glimpse the Peak District countryside and take in the sights before heading back into Sheffield for farewells.

The overall atmosphere at the ‘Summer of 1816’ conference was one of excitement and encouragement. The high calibre of papers provoked stimulating discussions that will undoubtedly go on to bear richer fruit in the form of further research and it was a fantastic opportunity for global scholars to come together and share their enthusiasm for this small circle of writers. In light of recent political turmoil, this conference could not have happened at a better time.

Carly Stevenson is a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield researching Gothic Keats.


The Scottish Romanticism Research Award: Result

(From Daniel Cook, BARS Bursaries Officer.)

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 their inaugural Scottish Romanticism Research Award: Christine Woody, a recent doctoral candidate and adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her project, ‘Romantic Periodicals and the Invention of the Living Author’, examines the ways in which the periodical culture of the Romantic period reshapes the meaning of authorship.  Drawing heavily on the Edinburgh Review, Quarterly Review, and Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in her research, Dr Woody will spend the duration of the award at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, where she will have the opportunity to consult the Murray Archive, the Blackwood & Sons archive, and other collections pertinent to her work.

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 (see  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.

Applications for the next round will be due by 1st June 2017.  In the meantime, any questions should be directed to the BARS bursaries officer, Dr Daniel Cook, at the University of Dundee (

Please join us in congratulating Dr Woody on her award. We look forward to welcoming her to Scotland.

CfP: Reputations, Legacies, Futures: Jane Austen, Germaine de Staël and their contemporaries, 1817-2017

(From Gillian Dow and Sandy White at Chawton House Library and the University of Southampton.)

Reputations, Legacies, Futures:
Jane Austen, Germaine de Staël and their contemporaries, 1817-2017

Chawton House Library, Hampshire, July 13-15, 2017

Keynote Speakers:
Benjamin Colbert, University of Wolverhampton
Alison Finch, University of Cambridge
Deidre Lynch, Harvard University

July 1817 saw two deaths – of Jane Austen, an English novelist with a solid but relatively modest success, and of Germaine de Staël, a long-standing superstar of pan-European intellectual, political and literary life. Over the two centuries since, the relative reputations of these two writers have re-aligned in ways that would have astonished their contemporaries, admirers and critics alike.

This joint anniversary provides an unrivalled opportunity to bring scholars together to reflect on the connections, continuities, and contrasts between these two writers’ careers both in their lifetimes and after, and to think about the waxing and waning across Europe and beyond of the literary reputations of eighteenth-century and Romantic-period women writers more generally.

The organisers invite submissions of 20-minute papers. Topics might include, but are not limited to:
• Connections and continuities between Austen and Staël (including, for instance, Austen’s familiarity with/awareness of the writings of Staël and vice versa, or their dealings with the firm that published them both, John Murray)
• The reputations and reception of women writers in Europe and beyond, both in their own lifetimes and subsequently
• Contemporary and subsequent models for the woman writer, thinker and genius
• The celebration of women writers, including portraiture, biography, the fame of associated place, commemorative events
• The sale, import, export, translation, abridgement, extraction, illustration, adaptation of the works of women writers from their lifetimes to the present
• Echoes, influence, and reiterations, especially those women writers described as ‘other’ Austens and Staëls in Europe and America
• The changing relative placement of these writers in relation (for instance) to notions of the centre and the periphery, the cosmopolitan and the national, the hierarchies of genre
• The futures of reading and teaching women’s writing of the period
• Other anniversaries associated with women writers falling in 1817 (such as, for instance, the career-defining publication in London and Paris of Sydney Owenson/Lady Morgan’s France).

Please send 300 word abstracts to Sandy White at the University of Southampton: by Friday, December 2nd, 2016.

Organising Committee:

Dr Gillian Dow (Executive Director of Chawton House Library and Associate Professor in English at the University of Southampton) []
Professor Catriona Seth (Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature, All Souls’ College, Oxford University) []
Professor Nicola J Watson (Professor of English Literature, Open University) []

Further details can be found on the conference website.