The BARS Review No. 45

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barsimage_07We’re pleased to announce that the spring issue of The BARS Review has just been released.  This is the second issue published exclusively in the new open-access online format, and the forty-fifth BARS publication counting the previous numbers of the BARS Bulletin & Review (back issues available here).

The new number contains thirty-six reviews covering forty recent books relating to the Romantic period, including, for the first time, a special spotlight covering three non-English-language publications.  Each review can be viewed online either in html or pdf format (click the links to the right of each title); the pdfs of reviews can also be downloaded.  If you’d like to work your way through the whole number away from your computer screen, all the reviews can be downloaded as a single pdf, which includes numbered contents pages.  The reviews from the previous issue and the final issue of the old Bulletin are also available through the site, which now includes a total of one hundred fully-searchable reviews.

We’re keen to solicit feedback to help us to keep improving The BARS Review – comments can be sent to the Editor, Susan Valladares, at

CfP: Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Biography

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Please see below for a call for papers and posters from Felicity James and Julian North for ‘Writing Lives Together‘, a conference on Romantic and Victorian biography which will take place in Leicester in September.  The call closes on the last day of March.

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Writing Lives Together:
Romantic and Victorian Biography
A Conference at the University of Leicester, 18th September 2015
Supported by the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) and the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS)
Writing Lives Together
Keynote Speakers:
Prof. David Amigoni (Keele), ‘Writing Lives Together in the Darwin family, 1804-1876: gender, heredity and authority’
Dr. Daisy Hay (Exeter), ‘Adventures of an Unromantic Biographer’


Recent biographical criticism and biographies of the Romantics and Victorians have moved away from a focus on the single life to encompass different creative relationships: the friendship circle; the literary family; the local or religious community. In so doing they are returning to the practices of Romantic and Victorian biographers who often ‘wrote Lives together’, both in the sense of focusing on multiple subjects and in adopting collaborative modes of authorship. Our conference will reflect on these and other kinds of ‘writing together’, in Romantic and Victorian life-writing – for instance how life-writing might bring together Romantic and Victorian subjects/authors; or different disciplines, materials or media.


We welcome proposals on any aspect of Romantic and/or Victorian life-writing. Topics may include but are not limited to:
    • Collaborative authorship in Romantic and/or Victorian life-writing
    • Family circles as writers and/or subjects of biography/letters
    • (Married) couples/ siblings/friends and life-writing
    • Cross-generational life-writing (parents, children, descendants)
    • Religious/local communities as writers and/or subjects of life-writing
    • The tensions of togetherness in life-writing
    • Collaborative authorship/multiple subjects
    • Formal experimentation in, or different forms of, life-writing
    • The politics of writing lives together
    • Victorian Lives of the Romantics
    • Romantic and/or Victorian life-writing and intertextuality/interdisciplinarity/intermediality
    • Cross-disciplinary life-writing, e.g. the interface between literature and science, or literature and the arts


Papers will be of 20 minutes duration; selected proceedings of the conference will be published in a special issue of the journal Life Writing.


We will also be holding a postgraduate poster event. Posters will be displayed in the foyer and there will be an opportunity for you to present your research informally with reference to your poster, and to make it available online after the event. If you would prefer to present your work in the form of a poster, please indicate this in your abstract. (There is more information on creating a postgraduate research poster here.) You will find two examples by Leicester PhD candidates, Katie Heathman and Kristan Tetens, here. If you send your PowerPoint slide to us via email we will print and display your poster and cover the cost.


We anticipate that the registration fee will be approximately £35 (including lunch). Details to be confirmed when registration opens later in the year. Due to the generous support of the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) and the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS), we are able to offer six conference fee waivers for postgraduate students or postdoctoral/unwaged researchers. Priority will be given to those who send proposals for papers by the deadline (31st March 2015), and whose proposals are accepted.


Please send your abstract of no more than 250 words by e-mail to Dr. Julian North ( and Dr. Felicity James ( no later than 31 March 2015 . You will be informed by 30 April 2015 whether your paper or poster has been accepted.

Chawton House Library Fellowships (including the new BARS Fellowship)

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Chawton bannerApplications are invited for fellowships at Chawton House Library.  Chawton House Library is an independent research library and study centre focusing on women’s writing in English from 1600 to 1830.  Accommodated in the Elizabethan manor house that once belonged to one of Jane Austen’s brothers, in the village of Chawton in Hampshire, the library’s main aim is to promote and facilitate study in the field of early women’s writing.

BARS is happy to be supporting a new fellowship for a mid-career or senior scholar in Romantic Period Literature.  Research into all areas of Romanticism will be considered, although the collections at Chawton House Library focus particularly on Romantic-period women’s writing, and are especially strong in their holdings of female-authored fiction 1780-1830.  The successful applicant will be a member of BARS, and will deliver the inaugural BARS lecture at CHL while in residence.

New fellowships are also available for projects on women and warfare, the Burney family, Jane Austen and the Brontës.  A fellowship founded to commemorate Marilyn Butler will support scholars researching Maria Edgeworth and her female contemporaries or those whose work builds on Butler’s own pioneering research.

For full details on how to apply and on the opportunities available, please visit the Chawton House Library website.  The deadline for all applications is the 10th of April 2015.

CfP: Writing Political Economy, 1750-1850

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Please see below for a Call for Papers for a conference on political economy in the Romantic century – this will take place at Sussex in January next year and has some exciting plenary speakers already attached.

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Writing Political Economy, 1750-1850
School of English, University of Sussex


‘Writing Political Economy, 1750-1850’ will be a two-day conference to be hosted by the School of English at the University of Sussex, UK from 15th-16th January, 2016. The event will feature plenary talks from Professor Mary Poovey (NYU) and Professor Peter de Bolla (Cambridge), and will bring together those currently working on and with political economy in literary studies and the humanities more broadly.

We are now accepting proposals for twenty-minute papers addressing political economy between 1750 and 1850. We invite papers which address the discourse of political economy from one of the perspectives sketched out below. Also welcome are papers which consider how current concerns over financial crises and the social and cultural consequences of capitalism resonate through such work, or which consider what pressure is being put on the study of political economy by current debates surrounding neoliberalism and its alternatives.

Proposals for papers should be sent to by Friday 24th April, 2015. More information can be found on the conference website.


In the years since the financial crisis of 2008, political economy has come centre stage in public consciousness. Its role as a foundational discourse through which modernity understands not just finance, but social structures, class, inequality, wealth, poverty and community is newly recognised, but is also now subject to a thorough re-examination. In such contexts, the historicity of political economy, as a discourse and mode of analysis, is rarely acknowledged. But political economy is a relatively recent discourse, emerging in the late eighteenth century as a defining achievement of Enlightenment philosophy, and bequeathing to modernity some of its fundamental concepts, including capital, credit, the market, the division of labour. The rise of political economy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also contributed to a transformation of the disciplinary field and a reconfiguration of knowledge whose implications were felt in realms as diverse as literary culture, social philosophy, aesthetics, and beyond.

Our current understanding of the origins and history of political economy was transformed and deepened by the work, in the 1970s and 1980s, of intellectual historians including Istvan Hont, Michael Ignatieff and Donald Winch. In this work, with which the University of Sussex has been strongly associated, the ideas and patterns of thought to be found in political economy were parsed, sifted and contextualized with rigorous detail and erudition. This scholarship led to a conception of political economy as a discourse in which historical formulations of man’s place in the social and natural worlds also articulated the tensions and anxieties that animated contemporary commercial society.

But another phase in the study of political economy can now be identified, as political economy from the mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries has become the focus of ground-breaking work within English studies. This phase, which began in the 1990s and is ongoing, considers political economy alongside a plethora of other social, literary and philosophical discourses, and offers a wealth of analyses which transform not only our understanding of political economy, but of philosophy, culture, narrative, literary history and the disciplines. Collectively, such work not only enriches our understanding of the discourse of political economy; it also transforms our understanding of literary history and of literary studies itself. The rich and various work in this area includes:

• studies of political economy as a form of writing, narrative or discourse, which submit its rhetorical and philosophical gestures to intense textual and conceptual analysis
• studies of the genres and textual forms of political economic writing, and of the monetary and credit forms circulating in the economy
• comparative studies of political economic with other forms of writing, including fiction
• work on the archaeology of economic concepts and systems
• analysis of discourses of value, within and beyond economics, and their place in culture
• historical studies of the mobilisation of aesthetic and cultural critiques against the rise of ‘the dismal science’
• post-Foucauldian studies of the construction of bodies and subjects in political economy
• studies of the relations between economics and other disciplines, such as biology, politics, or the social sciences
• studies of the engagement with debates over political economy by particular literary authors, or in particular works.

Proposal for papers are invited from any of the above fields and perspectives.


Dr. Richard Adelman & Dr. Catherine Packham,
School of English, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

CfP: The 10th Biennial Symbiosis Conference: Transatlantic Literary & Cultural Relations

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Please see below for a Call for Papers for the 10th Biennial Symbiosis Conference on Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations, which may well be of interest to Romanticists working on areas which span the oceans.

The 10th Biennial Symbiosis Conference:
Transatlantic Literary & Cultural Relations
A Symbiosis and Essex University event
Essex University, Colchester, UK
Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th July, 2015

Keynote Speakers: Richard Gray (Essex University); Peter Hulme (Essex);
Jahan Ramazani (Virginia)
Guest speaker: t.b.a.

The headline conference theme is trauma, conflict, and reconciliations, although proposals on any topic relevant to any area of Transatlantic Studies are welcome. The event organizers invite submission of:

• 200 – 300 word abstracts for proposed 20-minute conference presentations
• Panel presentations comprising 3 presenters (please submit three 200 word abstracts & brief overall rationale)

Please send by email to both Prof. Philip Tew (Brunel; and Dr. Matthew Scott (Reading; Add ‘Symbiosis 2015 Proposal’ to the subject line of your message, an essential detail since they will be sorted automatically using this search term.


The editors of Symbiosis, the Conference Directors, and Essex University’s Department of English invite proposals for panels and individual papers of twenty minute length, which engage a wide variety of transatlantic and/or transnational topics in the literatures and cultural histories of the Atlantic world. The conference is certainly not limited to any local concerns, although papers that treat issues related to the headline theme of conflict, trauma, and reconciliations in its transatlantic dimensions or a matter of cultural exchange and interrelationships are especially welcome, as are those examining the first fifteen years of transatlantic literary and cultural responses to the twenty-first century. Additionally as ever submissions are actively encouraged from all scholars and students of literary and cultural history and representation from every period from the earliest settlement right through to the present.

Poet Donald Davie was the first Professor of English at the new University of Essex, moving to Stanford and Vanderbilt Universities; Robert Lowell taught there for two years in the 1970s. The campus is conveniently located on the outskirts of Colchester, a thriving town, once the roman capital of Britain, now forty miles from London, 46 minutes journey on the fast train to and from London Liverpool Street station. Colchester itself offers numerous attractive bars, restaurants and two large shopping centres; the campus is close to the riparian attractions of Wivenhoe, also full of pubs and eating places.

Accommodation can be booked on campus, in well-appointed rooms, minutes away from the conference centre and the Symbiosis event. The conference fee (tba) will include a two-year subscription to the Symbiosis journal, confeence lunches, teas and coffees; single accommodation (with continental breakfast) can be booked if specified, and double rooms at a higher fee. The conference dinner is additional, and delegates are responsible for their own evening and other supplementary meals. Activities will include a literary event and a tour of a significant cultural site.

Further details will be posted on the Essex University webpage, on the Symbiosis website and its Facebook page.

Five Questions: Siobhan Carroll on An Empire of Air and Water

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Siobhan Carroll - An Empire of Air and Water

Siobhan Carroll is an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware, specialising in British literature from 1750 to 1850 and in modern fantasy and science fiction.  In the past couple of years, she has published articles on Mary Shelley in the European Romantic Review and on Neil Gaiman in Extrapolations, but her larger project has been a wide-ranging examination of the relationship between literature, science and exploration in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, paying particular attention to the ways in which the geographies of extreme spaces have been configured and imagined.  The culmination of this project is her new monograph, An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonizable Space in the British Imagination, 1750-1850, which will be published this month by the University of Pennsylvania Press and which we discuss below.  The introduction can be read here.

1) How did you first become interested in atopias (defined in your introduction as ‘”real” natural regions falling within the theoretical scope of contemporary human mobility, which, because of their intangibility, inhospitality, or inaccessibility, cannot be converted into the locations of affective habitation known as “place.”‘)?

It emerged from a chance remark I made to Pat Brantlinger at Indiana University.  We were discussing how the British narrated imperial history.

Thinking of the Shackleton and Scott stories I’d consumed as a child I said, “Of course, to the Brits the North & South Poles were the ultimate imperial spaces.”

He said, “Really? Why?”

And that’s where this project began – in an attempt to answer that question.

I soon noticed my primary sources grouping together the poles with other unusual spaces. Poems like Byron’s The Island would make sure to establish a captain’s polar ambitions before turning to the ocean and to caverns.  Newspapers and geographical textbooks would pay tribute to the poles, caverns, the ocean and the atmosphere before turning to the English countryside.  I felt I was starting to get a handle on the poles – Jen Hill’s and Adriana Craciun’s work proved very helpful in thinking through the way polar space constructed British imperial character – but I wanted to know how the poles related to these other geographies.  What brought them together in the British imagination?  And what kind of cultural work were they performing?

For me, the answer began to turn on the issue of habitation.  I learned that none of these geographies – including caves – were considered permanently habitable.  At best, they could serve as temporary refuges when your nation cast you out, but sooner or later you would have to return to green, arable land in order to build a home.  Edward Said famously said that discussions of imperialism are discussions of habitation.  But I was looking at evidence that spaces imagined as not only uninhabited but as *forever* uninhabited – spaces that would permanently resist the empire’s colonizing projects – were playing important roles in defining the British Empire.

Eventually I started using the term “atopia” to discuss these regions – geographies that could never be converted into dwellings.  Essentially, I argue that Britons used these sites to define the empire: to set its limits, to establish their national character, and to “prove” their right to dominate more hospitable geographies and peoples.  At the same time, in imagining a site as an atopia, Britons were also telling themselves that (to borrow a phrase from Rosalind Williams’s new book) the “triumph of human empire” was impossible.  Our twenty-first century attempts to comprehend climate change and ocean acidification struggle against this cultural conceit.

2) An Empire of Air and Water examines the poles, the sea, the air and underworlds, with a conclusion on the unknown spaces of the labyrinthine nineteenth-century city.  What lead you to select these particular foci, and were there other types of space, such as wildernesses, deserts or mountains, which you considered including?

I looked at each of them.  “Wilderness” I dismissed because (in most discourses) it’s not atopic.  Yes, it’s an extreme space, and yes, you can die in it, but it is improvable.  Turner’s frontier will advance, this hostile line of trees will be cleared, and you’ll build yourself a nice little town on the spot where a bear once ate your parents.

Mountains and deserts were trickier.  I found the habitable/uninhabitable lines harder draw with those spaces, and they were often treated differently in my primary sources.  Mountains, for example, were imagined as known and mapped even if nobody had ever climbed them – because they performed the political function of serving as “natural borders” between nations.  Deserts I would have liked to have tackled had I had more time, but my sense is that they became more important to the British imperial imagination in the later nineteenth century.  I’ve got an article on the backburner about deserts in the Siege of Khartoum that may well turn a postscript for this project.

2) Your book focuses on the Romantic Century (1750-1850). How did you come to decide that this span would be the most suitable for your study, as opposed to one extending earlier or later or one which covered a smaller or larger chronological range?

The book does engage with texts and topics falling outside that date range: it’s hard to describe the cultural operations of these spaces without mentioning works like Dickens’s The Frozen Deep or Conrad’s Heart of Darkness!  But in conceptualizing the project as a whole, the “Romantic Century” seemed to truly capture a period of intense transformations in how people thought about the globe.  D’Anville’s 1749 map of Africa popularizes the idea that there are “blank spaces” that European empires should probably do something about, while the Great Exhibition of 1851 asserts the British Empire’s ability to not only know but also to spatially organize the diverse circulations of the world.

4) Which primary and secondary texts proved the most crucial for you in shaping your research on uncolonisable spaces?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Last Man both proved enormously important for me – Frankenstein because it marks a definitive break in the tradition in polar narratives up until that point, and The Last Man because it’s uncannily prescient in imagining the human race facing a global environmental disaster that might be of its own making.  I might go so far as to call it the first novel of the Anthropocene.

As for secondary texts – there were so many inspiring scholars whose work I read and whose arguments helped shape my own.  Edward Said, Henri Lefebvre, Benedict Anderson, and Marc Augé proved essential touchstones for me in formulating my arguments.  In British scholarship, the work of scholars like Tim Fulford, Alan Bewell, and Saree Makdisi provided an important foundation for the way I was thinking about exploration in the Romantic Century.  And then there are scholars like Margaret Cohen, Sam Baker, Lauren Benton, and Adriana Craciun, who published works that helped me solve particular problems in the later stages of this project.

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

In researching An Empire of Air and Water I came across a lot of material on nineteenth-century geo-engineering projects that proposed doing things like attacking the poles in order to change the global climate.  One 1860s American proposal suggested reversing the current of the Gulf Stream in order to destroy the British Empire.  (That’ll teach them!)  My next project takes these schemes of “extreme improvement” as a starting place for its investigation into how Britons and Americans conceptualized human agency in relation to air, water, and plant circulations.  It’s tentatively titled Circulating Natures: Planetary Politics in the Transatlantic Imagination.

Book History and Bibliography Research Seminar

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The current season of the Book History and Bibliography Research Seminar at the Institute of English Studies, ‘Paper Pen and Ink 2: Manuscript Cultures in the Age of Print’, includes a number of sessions that may be of interest to Romanticists.  The next is Wim van Mierlo (Acting Director, Institute of English Studies, University of London) on manuscript culture after 1700; this will take place at 5:30pm next Monday (February 2nd).

Romantic Imprints Website

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Very pleased to announce that the website for Romantic Imprints, BARS’ 2015 International Conference, is now live.  Of particular interest will be the page on panels, which contains a list of the open call sessions (with a document giving fuller details) and gives information on a number of themed panels which will take place at the conference.  Abstracts are due on February 14th and should be submitted to  I’d just like to flag up that I’m looking for participants for a Digital Communications roundtable (one of the open call sessions) – this won’t involve full papers, but rather short (5 minute) introductions to panelist’s digital work, followed by wide-ranging discussion.  If you’d be interested in taking part in this, please submit a short (150-200 word proposal) to the conference email address – fuller details are on the document linked above.

You can also receive updates on the conference via Twitter and Facebook.