News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Archive for January 2017

Stephen Copley Award Report: Amy Boyington, The Gloucester Archives

The following report from Amy Boyington (University of Cambridge) describes her recent studies at the Gloucester Archives. This research trip was funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Award.

The Stephen Copley Award enabled me to consult a range of eighteenth-century manuscripts located at the Gloucester Archives. The purpose of this research trip was to consult the papers of Elizabeth, Dowager Duchess of Beaufort (1713-99), to investigate whether she commissioned any significant architectural works during her widowhood (1756-1799). Significantly, when her brother Norborne Berkeley died in 1770, Elizabeth inherited Stoke Park (Bristol) which she adopted as her dower House. The manuscripts that I consulted at Gloucester related predominantly to her tenure of Stoke Park (1770-99) and luckily proved to be extremely fruitful.

At Gloucester I consulted accounts, correspondence, bills and disbursements which all supported my hypothesis that Elizabeth was an avid architectural patroness during her widowhood. I discovered evidence that proved that she redecorated her dower house at least three times during her tenure of Stoke, demonstrating that she was conscious of the latest aesthetic trends. She also commissioned a series of architectural improvements to the house ranging from the remodelling of the Dining Room, to the insertion of new water closets, to the refurnishing of the bedchambers and dressing rooms.

Further bills related to her architectural commissions within the gardens and parkland. These included the construction of new entrance lodges which were completed in 1777 and advocated the increasingly popular Gothic style. Such a bold choice in style indicated that Elizabeth was interested in the latest architectural and intellectual movements of the times. Additionally, she also commissioned new greenhouses, ‘cucumber frames’ and estate cottages, as well as spending vast sums on repairing various garden follies, illustrating that her interest in architecture was both functional as well as aesthetic.

My research also uncovered details relating to Elizabeth’s properties in London. Surviving leases, plans, correspondence and bills concerning town houses in Grosvenor Square and Berkeley Square provide a valuable insight into the types of houses that elite widows occupied in the latter eighteenth century. The relationship between Elizabeth’s London house and Stoke Park was a pivotal one and enabled her to enjoy the best of the town and country life. These discoveries will enrich my argument that elite women were regularly involved in architectural patronage.

Surprisingly, until this point, Elizabeth has received little academic investigation. BARS has enabled me to rectify this oversight by providing me with the means to conduct new primary research into the life of this remarkable woman. Elizabeth’s vast fortune, land ownership and status placed her in a privileged position that allowed her to pursue her architectural and aesthetic ambitions. In an age where women were generally subordinate to their male relatives Elizabeth provides a fantastic example of female agency and independence.

To conclude, I wish to heartily thank the British Association for Romantic Studies for enabling me to undertake this research, which would not have been possible otherwise. The conducted research will be used directly in my thesis, bolstering my argument significantly.

Amy is a third year PhD student at the University of Cambridge investigating the extent to which elite women commissioned building schemes in eighteenth-century Britain. She is the co-chair of the Young Georgians, an off-shoot of The Georgian Group, a conservation organisation that aims to protect and save vulnerable 18th century buildings in the UK. She is currently in the process of establishing an East Anglian Country House Partnership, which aims to create a knowledge exchange partnership between Cambridge researchers and the surrounding country houses of East Anglia.

Call for Papers. John Thelwall: Radical Networks and Cultures of Reform 1780-1820

CfP for the Second International Conference of the John Thelwall Society which will be held in Derby in July 2017 (deadline 31 January).

Call for Papers:

John Thelwall: Radical Networks and Cultures of Reform 1780-1820

July 21-23, 2017

For its second international conference, the John Thelwall Society, in collaboration with the University of Derby, invites papers on Thelwall within interlinked regional networks of activism, sociability, dissent and reform in Britain 1780-1820.

Recent years have seen increased interest among scholars and local historians in the“conversable worlds” (Mee) of the Midlands Enlightenment and its groundbreaking intersections of politics and poetry, religion and science, doctors and dissenters, pedagogues and visionaries. As a radical polymath and itinerant lecturer, John Thelwall moved between and spoke to all of them, not only in the Midlands.  From Devon to Wales, Norfolk to Scotland, Ireland to France, Roman history to elocution, he planted the liberty tree by other names, giving voice to hope and binding together scattered communities of reform. At a time of war and repression, in the face of nationalist dogma, Thelwall championed egalitarian connections and transnational solidarities that continue to offer a way forward in our own dark times (Poole).

Representative of these regional intellectual centres, Derby, the conference location, lies at the heart of the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site, a cradle of the Industrial Revolution. The home of visionary scientists and artists, revolutionary inventors and industrialists, outspoken Philosophical and Political Societies, and the Pentrich rebellion (whose 200th anniversary the conference also commemorates), it also hosts the Derby Manuscript, the trove of Thelwall poetry whose discovery draws attention to his importance in radical networks, and theirs to an understanding of his career.The conference will celebrate this discovery through a special exhibition of the manuscript. Other highlights include excursions to sites related to the industrial revolution, Thelwall and notable residents of Derby (including Erasmus Darwin and Joseph Wright), and a radical pub night with songs and toasts in the very room where the Derby Political Society delivered its notorious 1792 Revolution Address. And of course, there will be a lively two-day program of talks, panels and keynote lectures.

The JTS invites proposals for papers or sessions on any aspects of, or relationships between, Thelwall, other radical figures like Paine, and/or reform networks in Derby or elsewhere in Britain. Contributions are welcome from all disciplines and need not focus expressly on Thelwall. Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • Erasmus Darwin and the Derby Philosophers
  • the Derby MS and/or the relationship of poetry, politics and performance
  • the role of women in radical (and/or scientific, philosophical, artistic) networks
  • the relationship of religious and political dissent
  • Joseph Wright and/or the role of the arts in philosophic/scientific/radical circles
  • The Pentrich Rising
  • Paine and/in Derby
  • Thelwall’s lectures: politics, history, elocution
  • radicalism and reform: continuities and/or schisms 1780-1820
  • Toryism, loyalism, reaction
  • education and the dissenting academies

Please send proposals of no more than 300words to no later than 31stJanuary 2017.

Call for Papers. Romantik: Journal for the Study of Romanticisms

See below for a CfP from NARS (Nordic Association for Romantic Studies).

CALL FOR PAPERS: Romantik: Journal for the Study of Romanticisms, vol. 6.

The forthcoming 2017 issue welcomes all article submissions that fit within the general scope of the journal.
 See here for submission guidelines.

DEADLINE: 1 March 2017 (full articles).

Questions and article suggestions based on abstracts may be directed to Robert W. Rix.

Romantik: Journal for the Study of Romanticisms is a multi-disciplinary journal dedicated to the study of romantic modes of thought. The articles range over the full variety of cultural practices, including the written word, visual arts, history, philosophy, religion, music and theatre during the romantic period (c. 1780–1850). Since the romantic era was characterised by an emphasis on the vernacular, the title of the journal has been chosen to reflect the Germanic root of the word. We emphasise that the journal is interested in all European romanticisms – and not least the connections and disconnections between them – hence, the use of the plural in the subtitle.

Romantik is a double blind peer-reviewed academic journal, published once a year. The journal promotes innovative research across disciplinary borders. It aims to advance new historical discoveries, forward-looking theoretical insights and cutting-edge methodological approaches.

We look forward to seeing and publishing your work.

– The Romantik editors.

Research Society for Victorian Periodicals: Forthcoming Awards

Print-culturally focused Romanticists might be interested to know that January the 31st is the closing date for two of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals’ major awards – the Peterson Fellowship for original individual research on aspects of Victorian periodical literature, and the Field Building Award for collaborative research.  Details of the awards can be found at the Society’s web site: