We look forward to welcoming you to the East Midlands, where the historic city of Nottingham is located among the heartlands of British Romanticism. Newstead Abbey was Byron’s ancestral home; Sherwood Forest was re-imagined as the meeting place of Richard I and Robin Hood in Scott’s Ivanhoe; and the Cromford Mills are a living monument to Richard Arkwright, whose inventive development of spinning mills and power looms was an integral strand of the Industrial Revolution. This conference will explore the potency of ‘fact’ and fantasy’ both in the Romantic period and during the afterlife of Romanticism. The aim is to develop a collective understanding of how Romantic ‘fact’ and ‘fantasy’ work together and against one another, and in so doing embody the spirit of an age whose inventions and innovations laid the foundations for modernity while simultaneously exulting the power of the imagination and its creations.
Keynote speakers for Romantic Facts and Fantasies are Laura Mandell (Texas A&M), Robert Poole (UCLAN), Sharon Ruston (Lancaster), Diego Saglia (Parma), and Jane Stabler (St Andrews).
We encourage proposals for open-call sessions and themed panels as well as individual proposals for 20-minute papers. Subjects covered might include (but are not limited to):
Bicentenaries 1819-2019: The Peterloo Massacre; the ‘Six Acts’, the Carlsbad Decrees; the birth of Queen Victoria; Stamford Raffles and the foundation of Singapore; Simon Bolivar’s victory at Boyacá; the Panic of 1819; the opening of the Burlington Arcade, London; the Cotton Mills Act; the death of James Watt; Keats’s odes; Scott’s Ivanhoe, Bride of Lammermoor, and A Legend of Montrose; the final volume of Southey’s History of Brazil; Blake’s ‘Ghost of a Flea’ (1819/20).
Factual and fantastical encounters and dialogues: travel narratives; poetry of encounter; translations; colonial discourses; geologies, geographies and aesthetics of landscape; rivers, canals, bridges and roads in material, commercial and imaginative landscapes.
Facts and fantasies of collective and individual identity: Romantic provincialism (the Lunar Society, the Lake School); national identity and ideas of the state; religion; ethnography; Romantic life writing and autobiography; Romantic-period economics, consumerism, industry and agriculture; Romantic facts and fantasies of childhood; Romantic experiments in education; Rousseauism.
The scientific imaginary: Mary and Percy Shelley; Humphry Davy, poet and scientist; the development and legacies of Romantic science fiction; Erasmus Darwin, the Lunar Society and Joseph Wright of Derby; Malthus and Malthusianism.
Imagining the Romantic world: Keats’s ‘living year’; plagiarism and originality; the professional imagination in Keats, Davy, Blake, Caroline Herschel and William Herschel; pedagogic and didactic poetry, prose and drama; histories and history-writing, including the emergence of national histories; paintings, sculptures and music commemorating the events and ‘heroes’ of the Napoleonic wars, politics, industry and culture; architecture and Romantic fantasy (eg. Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey, and Joseph Gandy’s visualisations of the Bank of England and other buildings by John Soane); Romantic book illustration and developments in the technology of print.
We welcome proposals for the following:
Individual 20 minute papers. Abstracts of no more than 250 words (excluding the title). Please include your name and institutional affiliation (if applicable).
Panels of either three 20 minute papers or four 15 minute papers. Please include an abstract of the panel theme, together with 250-word (excluding the title) proposals from each of the speakers, in a single document.
Open-call sessions. Proposals should include a 350-word (excluding the title) description of the potential session, outlining its importance and relevance to the conference theme. Accepted open-call sessions will be advertised on the BARS 2019 website from mid-November 2018.
The deadline for proposals for open-call sessions is 1 November 2018.
The deadline for submissions of panels and individual papers is 17 December 2018.
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: Eva-Charlotta Mebius, a PhD Candidate in the English Department at University College London. During her research trip she will visit the the Dundee City Archives, in order to study Robert Mudie’s early writing in the Dundee Advertiser, the Fife Archives and the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness, to uncover more information about Mudie’s time there as a schoolmaster, and the National Records of Scotland.
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 Eva-Charlotta on her award. We look forward to welcoming her to Scotland.
– Dr Daniel Cook, University of Dundee
Read Eva’s Stephen Copley Research Report for BARS, ‘Unearthing Robert Mudie in the National Library of Scotland and Dundee University Archives’, here.
Lauren Christie (University of Dundee) has completed the following report on her time in Manchester this summer carrying out research on the Gothic and attending the Gothic festival and the International Gothic Association’s (IGA) biennial conference.
Research report: Gothic literature, children’s literature and the Gothic Manchester Festival/the IGA conference
The very nature and beauty of eighteenth-century Gothic is its fluidity. Originating with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) many established Gothic tropes are still present in aspects of contemporary culture: for example, fashion, architecture, and literature. We are witnessing new developments that reflect different audiences, such as Gothic gaming and post-apocalyptic fiction. Gothic remains such a prominent fibre of the twenty-first century through its inherent ability to adapt and modify for new generations. Due to the diverse scope and nature of my research (ranging from children’s to Gothic and horror literature) there are so many texts that are vital for me, from the eighteenth century to the present day. The Stephen Copley Research Award from BARS enabled me to visit the library and special collections archive at Manchester Metropolitan University in order to examine specialised texts spanning this vast time period. I combined this research trip with an offer to present at the International Gothic Association’s biennial conference. The organising committee for the IGA arranged additional events through the ‘Gothic Manchester Festival: Gothic Hybridities’ series. Exploring the hybridity of the genre from its origins to the present led me to consider and observe the popularity and diverse nature of this topic.
With assistance from Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes (Senior Lecturer) and Rachel Fell (subject librarian for English at MMU), I gained access to MMU’s departmental collection that exclusively focuses on Romantic and Gothic literary criticism of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Prominent texts included: Coats, McGillis and Jackson’s The Gothic in Children’s Literature: Haunting the Borders (2008), Crawford’s The Twilight of the Gothic? Vampire Fiction and the Rise of the Paranormal Romance (2014), Tropp’s Images of Fear: How Horror Stories Helped Shape Modern Culture (1990) and Townshend’s Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination (2014). I also encountered contemporary children’s literary criticism such as: Lenz’s Alternative Worlds in Fantasy Fiction (2001), Lewis’s Reading Contemporary Picturebooks (2001) and Coats’s Looking Glasses and Neverlands: Lacan, Desire, and Subjectivity in Children’s Literature (2004).
MMU houses a unique archival collection of children’s literature. This dates back to 1764, and consists of children’s annuals, fiction, picturebooks and pop-up books, to name but a few examples. Immersed in this collection, I came across an extraordinary Gothic children’s pop-up book entitled Thomson and Hartas’s Ghoul School (2001), and a bibliotherapeutic picturebook for young children: Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (2004). I also looked at several children’s Gothic texts that promote imagination such as Thompson’s How to Live Forever (1995) and Turner’s The Tree Witches (1983). There were also Gothic transitional books for education such as Waddell and Wright’s Little Dracula Goes to School (1987). One particular text that I found incredibly dark and poignant was a contemporary one: Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls (2003). This novel emphasises the power of the imagination and questions the figure of the monster (and whether we mean wolves or humans).
Alongside my research, I was honoured to be able to attend the Manchester Gothic Festival and present at the IGA conference. This year saw the society’s biggest ever conference, hosting over 300 experts from all over the world. I attended several vibrant panels such as: Gothic Houses and Gothic selves, Gothic Monsters in children’s and Young Adult (YA) fiction, Gothic Fairy Tales, Outsiders in YA Gothic, Haunted Scotland, and Reading the Gothic in Popular Children’s Fiction. I also attended wider festival events, including Scoring Fear: An Evening of Classical Music and Gothic Horror Film Scores (BBC Philharmonic and BBC Radio 3), and a reception at the Manchester Art Gallery. In addition, the IGA Postgraduate community had organised a round table event on Gothic-studies careers in academia. This was incredibly supportive as we were able to seek advice from several experts in the field.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the British Association for Romantic Studies for awarding me the Stephen Copley Research Award, without which this trip would not have been possible. I would also like to thank Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes and Rachel Fell for their help in organising my individual research trip to the library and archives, Dr Linnie Blake and the staff at the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, and the IGA organising committee for creating such a diverse and exciting conference and festival. The combination of all of the above events during my week in Manchester has helped further my research, thereby developing ideas for my thesis and publications.
Plenary Speakers: Ian Duncan (Berkeley) and Angela Esterhammer (Toronto)
The reign of George IV was a decade of profound transformations, during which technological, generic and ideological innovations opened up culture to unprecedentedly vast audiences, mandating the creation of new modes of communication and production, but also triggering fears about the loss of social cohesion and nostalgia for perceived lost identities. By 1830, Samuel Taylor Coleridge felt empowered to contend that ‘Roads, canals, machinery, the press, the periodical and daily press [and] the might of public opinion’ had fundamentally reconfigured political and social discourse.
This international conference aims to produce a new understanding of the underappreciated innovations and diffusions that occurred during the 1820s. Topics to be considered include, but are not limited to:
The Spirit of the Age
Media, mediality and technology
The proliferation of institutions
Reform and reaction
Public(s) and audiences
Abstracts of around 300 words for 20-minute papers should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org along with the proposer’s name, institutional affiliation (if any) and a short biographical note (50-100 words).
We also invite proposals for keywords for framing the 1820s suitable for a special session of 5-minute presentations employing a single slide. Examples might include ‘Power’, ‘Speculation’, ‘Generation’, ‘Environment’, ‘Regulation’, ‘Genius’ and ‘Flash’. Proposals should be submitted in the same manner as paper abstracts, but should be no more than 150 words and should include ‘Keyword Proposal’ in the subject line of the email. Keyword proposals may be submitted either alone or with an abstract for a paper.
The submission deadline for both kinds of contribution is Friday November 30th 2018.
A key function of the conference is to catalyse a new edited collection. In the year following the conference, there will be a pair of workshops in York and Glasgow at which invited authors will develop papers into chapters in conversation with other contributors. Funding kindly provided by the Royal Society of Edinburgh will be available to support attendance at these workshops.
For a fuller version of this Call for Papers, along with further information on the conference and related events, please see our website: http://www.1820s.net.
1) How did you first become interested in the implications of the Tambora eruption?
I’m not sure where I first read about Tambora – perhaps in Jonathan Bate’s The Song of the Earth – but a few years ago I started thinking about the possibility of producing a kind of popular cultural history of the eruption and its effects in time for the bicentenary of the ‘Year without a Summer’ in 2016. Through writing my monograph, Romantic Englishness, and working with some brilliant colleagues at Leeds, I had started to see myself as a researcher in the environmental humanities. Tambora seemed a great case study for such an approach, as well as a potential springboard for public engagement work around culture and climate.
2) Why did you decide to write a short book specifically, and how was the experience of writing compared with that for your previous two monographs?
I ended up abandoning the cultural history, partly because I didn’t think that it would play to my strengths and partly because Gillen D’Arcy Wood beat me to it with his excellent 2014 book. I decided instead to write a shorter book that, rather than simply telling the story of Tambora, would analyse it as a process in which material and discursive elements were profoundly intertwined. I had started reading theoretical work on speculative realism/new materialism and realised that contemporary ideas about non-anthropocentric agency had a great deal to offer this project and the environmental humanities more broadly. My case studies seemed to suit a shorter book and I felt that publishing with Palgrave Pivot would allow me to make a more urgent intervention than a longer monograph, as well as roughly coinciding with the bicentenary of the post-Tambora crisis.
The writing experience was very different from my previous research books. My first was based on my PhD thesis. It required a lot of primary research and was worked on quite intensively during the course of my PhD and then intermittently for a couple of years afterwards. My second was a very slow burner as various other things intervened. In contrast, I wrote this book in not much more than a year, largely during research leave kindly funded by my institution and then by the AHRC. During this period, I also had some leadership responsibilities associated with the AHRC funding, which took up some time but also very much fed into to my research. I hope that the resulting study seems timely rather than rushed, and reflects that I had been thinking about the book for a long time before having the chance to write it.
3) How did you come to select the three case studies on which your book focuses: the official narrative of the eruption compiled by the British administration in Java; the 1816 writings of Byron and the Shelleys; and political periodical writings regarding the ‘distresses’ of 1816 and 1817?
Including Byron and the Shelleys was an easy decision as I have a longstanding interest in their writings. It also struck me that, although their 1816 works were often invoked in relation to Tambora, there was very little actual analysis of the complex ways in which they imagine environmental catastrophe. Similarly, I noticed that the colonial narrative of the eruption was known as a key source for understanding how Tambora unfolded across the Indonesian archipelago, but nobody had paid any attention to its rhetorical construction of the catastrophe. Finally, I felt that a chapter on political periodical writings offered a good way to address the impact of Tambora in Britain, as well as to explore the complex relationship between human and nonhuman agents that creates a supposedly ‘natural’ disaster. I felt, too, that all the case studies would show the value of a close textual analysis of disaster narratives within the broader intellectual framework provided by the environmental humanities. I have always tried in my work to bring canonical and non-canonical texts into close relationship, and without treating the latter as mere background or context. The case studies, while manageable for a short book, offered a transnational and generic reach that I felt was vital for a project of this nature.
4) What for you are the most important kinds of insights that can be gleaned by using the lenses of climate change and the Anthropocene to view the art and culture of the Romantic period?
I am very aware of the dangers of ‘presentism’ and I would certainly resist the idea that the Romantic period speaks to us in any straightforward (or moralistic) way about climate change. I also accept that the present-day environmental crisis may well require new ways of thinking. However, understanding the Anthropocene as a kind of epistemological breach (as some thinkers do) risks dehistoricising environmental change and presenting it as the inevitable result of human ‘progress’, rather than as the result of a range of contingent factors over time. As scholars such as Mike Hulme have shown, climate and culture have been understood as intertwined by many human societies. I believe that understanding how the Romantics address the complex interactions of human and nonhuman agencies that create an environmental catastrophe can contribute to a better understanding of our current predicament. This genealogical approach requires an attentiveness to the significant differences between then and now, as well as the similarities.
5) Now that this book is finished, what are you planning to work on next?
I’m currently involved in Landlines, an AHRC-funded collaboration between academics at Leeds, Sussex, and St Andrews to write a history of British nature writing over the last two centuries for Cambridge University Press. We’re not offering a survey, but a pointed and (I hope) sophisticated account of nature writing as a complex literary form. The project has also involved some very enjoyable public engagement, including a poll to discover the nation’s favourite nature books. Increasingly, I am motivated as a researcher by the opportunity to engage with broader audiences and so I hope to develop some new impact collaborations around culture and climate over the next twelve months. In the longer term, I’m planning a book on the relationship between philosophical pessimism and environmental thinking: a project that will take me well out of my Romantic-period comfort zone…
Posted in Five Questions by Matthew Sangster Comments Off on Five Questions: David Higgins on British Romanticism, Climate Change, and the Anthropocene: Writing Tambora
Anxious Forms 2018 Conference Funding Report: ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Bodily Fluids in the Long Nineteenth Century’
It has oft been a stereotype that those living during the long nineteenth century were prudish to the point of self-disembodiment. Although more recent criticism has sought to undo this century-long cliché, ideas of the abject – in this instance, bodily fluids – still seem conspicuously absent from both primary texts of the long nineteenth century and in much of the academic work about that period. The conference ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Bodily Fluids in the Long Nineteenth Century’ engaged with such perceived omissions.
The generous contribution from BARS to the conference budget went toward the travel and accommodation costs for the keynote and plenary speakers: Professor Talia Schaffer (CUNY) opened the conference with a paper entitled ‘Fluid Reading: Subjectivity, Sentimentality, and Sociality’, which interrogated emotion in nineteenth-century novels, focusing on ideas of tears, sentiment and sympathy in theories of care. Professor Schaffer also discussed the metaphorically ‘fluid’ ideas of community within these theories of care. Plenary speaker Dr Kate Lister (Leeds Trinity) gave a paper in the afternoon session entitled ‘Buzzkill: The Victorians and the Vibrator’, which discussed sexual fluids, hysteria, and the myths surrounding sexual repression, kink, and anxious illness in the long nineteenth century. Dr Lister also brought to the forefront many pertinent issues about modern scholars who deal with still-taboo subjects and the ways in which the academy deals with them.
The research presented by other delegates covered a wide swathe of territory, with papers on nineteenth-century stigmata, breastmilk, tears, ectoplasm, blood and heredity, syphilitic incontinence, blood magic and anthropology, menopause, hormones, vomit, ‘night-soil’, and other effluvia. Conference delegates were especially successful in addressing why our current conception of the long nineteenth century is so skewed in terms of bodily function and excrescence. In part, the delegates debated how actual social, scientific, or moral anxieties played a role in muffling certain conversations. Others found that racial, class, and gender structures kept certain topics out of hegemonic – or at least the best recorded – discourses. Delegates also traced how various paradigm shifts over the long nineteenth century led to certain topics becoming more or less acceptable for public consumption. And, perhaps most significantly, several papers reported that certain bodily fluids were not considered as taboo as a modern audience would have them; authors instead recorded them in euphemistic or idiomatic language that has ceased to be fully recognised by the modern reader.
The conference was the third in the biennial Anxious Forms conference series which seeks, with every event, to interrogate a different point of anxiety – overt or implied, addressed or ignored, contemporaneous or a later construction – in the literature and culture of the long nineteenth century. The inaugural conference ‘Bodies in Crisis’ was held in 2014 and the second ‘Masculinities in Crisis’ was in 2016; both were held at the University of Glasgow, although this third entry was held at Aston University in Birmingham to commemorate the opening of the English Literature department (2017) and the History department (2018).
Posted in Conference Reports by Anna Mercer Comments Off on Conference Report: ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Bodily Fluids in the Long Nineteenth Century’
If you have comments on the new number, or on the Review in general, we’d be very grateful for any feedback that would allow us to improve the site or the content. Mark Sandy would also be very happy to hear from people who would like to review for BARS.
Editor: Mark Sandy (Durham University) General Editors: Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton), Susan Oliver (University of Essex) & Nicola J. Watson (Open University) Technical Editor: Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow)
We present a report by Ruby Hawley-Sibbett from the latest ‘Romantic Novels 1818‘ seminar which took place in July 2018. This series is sponsored by BARS and seminars are held at the University of Greenwich.
You can see details of upcoming seminars in the series here.
Seminar: Andy McInnes on ‘The Death of the Authoress in Susan Ferrier’s Marriage’ by Ruby Hawley-Sibbett
Andy McInnes delivered a thought-provoking seminar which focused on suspicion towards female literary authority in Ferrier’s first novel. McInnes began by considering how we read Marriage in 2018, including the minor revival of interest sparked by bicentenary events and the writer Val McDermid. McDermid’s observation that while Scott considered Ferrier his ‘sister shadow’, she is now overshadowed by him, was juxtaposed with Leah Price’s criticism of the use of Ferrier for national or gender balance in literary historical narratives. As well as Ferrier’s status as a shadow of Scott and of Austen, McInnes also discussed her work as sharing qualities with Edgeworth’s national tales.
McInnes highlighted that Marriage features many potential author figures, but also that Ferrier appears suspicious of the term authoress, leading him to argue that Ferrier begins to marginalise the woman writer, thus undoing the work of the Scottish national tale. McInnes compared Juliet Shields’ position in From Family Roots to the Routes of Empire: National Tales and the Domestication of the Scottish Highlands with that of Ian Duncan in Scott’s Shadow, but he challenged their reading of hybridisation in Ferrier as a potential way of reconciling the British nation, suggesting this view is too idealised.
Close reading of the passage relating to the authoress ‘Mrs Blanque’ in Bath, added by Ferrier to the 1841 text, led McInnes to argue that Ferrier was looking back at the situation of female authorship in 1818 and considering the vogue for anonymity, as an anonymous author herself. Alongside the ‘Mrs Bluemitts’ episode, this led McInnes to the conclusion that Ferrier was antagonistic to the public facing roles of authorship, applying Kowaleski-Wallace’s idea of the ‘scapegoating’ of women. Introducing Barthian ideas, McInnes considered whether Ferrier’s focus on reader relationships also demonstrates suspicion of authorship.
This led to an engaging group discussion which covered national hybridity and potentially Utopian Britishness, suspicion of authorial power in other Romantic novels, and the ways in which our impatience with anonymity remains evident in 2018.