BARS Blog

BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Dreaming Romantic Europe at BARS 2019

This post was written by Alice Rhodes (University of York). It forms one of a series of reports about the 16th International BARS conference that took place in July 2019. You can also see pictures from the event if you search #BARS2019 on Twitter. 

This July, European Romanticisms in Association (ERA) the AHRC-funded network, Dreaming Romantic Europe, were delighted to bring Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition (RÊVE) to the 16th International BARS conference in Nottingham. In keeping with the conference theme of ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’, we presented two sessions, convened by Professor Nicola Watson – a panel on Dreaming Romantic Europe: facts and their fantasies and an associated ECR workshop.

Our first session kicked off on Thursday to a packed-out audience. The panel featured a series of micro-talks in which seven senior scholars of Romanticism presented their research in the form of an exhibit for RÊVE. Objects ranged across Europe and varied from texts and domestic items to the buildings which might contain them, with each talk using a single image to spark broader discussions about the materiality (or immateriality) of Romantic objects, their circulation, and the narratives of fact or of fantasy which might be constructed around them. The stellar line up of speakers included: Professor Deidre Shauna Lynch, who introduced us to ‘The Handwritten Title-Page of a Transcription of Keat’s Poems, 1828’; Professor Emma Clery who presented ‘A Circular Note from Herries & Co.’; Professor Anthony Mandal, who explored ‘The offices of the Minerva Press, Leadenhall’; Professor Penny Fielding with ‘Margaret Chalmers and a Tea-cup’; Professor Sonia Hofkosh, who discussed ‘Byron’s Screen’; Professor Diego Saglia, who spoke on ‘William Beckford’s Pavilion’; and Professor Ian Haywood who concluded with ‘A Map of the Republic of Europe’. The panel ended with discussion which drew attention to the ways in which the seven talks spoke to each other in productive and sometimes unexpected ways and considered how the objects in the virtual exhibition might come together as a collection or collections.

BARS delegates continued Dreaming Romantic Europe on Sunday, at our ECR Workshop. The first half of the workshop followed a similar format to Thursday with presentations from Alice Rhodes on ‘A ha’pennyworth of sedition, 1796’; Anne-Claire Michoux on ‘The petition for Robert Lovell Edgeworth to be permitted to stay in Paris, 1803’; Dr Teresa Raçzka-Jeziorska on ’40 verses of Mickiewicz’s “Pan Tadeusz” given to Ambroży Grabowski for “Autographs of Illustrious Men’’’; and Dr Charlotte May on ‘The decanter given to Byron by Samuel Rogers’. The second half of the workshop involved discussion, led by Professor Nicola Watson, on the project of RÊVE more broadly. The workshop generated fruitful and though-provoking conversations on methods of recording visitor engagement with the exhibition; ways of incorporating RÊVE into teaching; and the opportunities and challenges afforded by presenting research as short-form object biographies, exemplified by Watson’s exhibit on ‘William Cowper’s lavender-water bottle’. Dr Anna Mercer and Dr Charlotte May also provided valuable insights on the project from the perspective of their work with heritage organisations.

It was a privilege to be part of such a wonderful conference and huge thanks goes to the BARS 2019 organisers, all the speakers involved in the panels, and everyone who came to listen and offer their enthusiastic thoughts on the project.

We look forward to featuring the exhibits mentioned above on the website in the coming months. Meanwhile the exhibition so far can be viewed here: http://www.euromanticism.org/virtual-exhibition/

Alice Rhodes, University of York

23rd August 2019