The works of Romantic writers and political philosophers served a morally instructive purpose for the audiences and readerships of their time. In their pamphlets, speeches, plays and poetry, as well as narrative texts, dominant discourses on, e.g., socio-economic questions, child-rearing, self-management, interactions with marginalised individuals, and visions of democratised states and communities stabilised, commented on and potentially subverted what is now considered a Romantic belief system. The implicit hierarchy of authors of such instructive texts and their recommended moral regulations open a window into the social inequalities of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Because these texts “appeared to have no political bias, these rules took on the power of natural law, and as a result, they presented readers with ideology in its most powerful form” (Armstrong 60). At the same time, it must be acknowledged that Romanticism as such “did create a great revolution in consciousness” (Berlin 20) insofar as Britain’s marginalised groups often became the central focus of Romantic works. Despite their normative character, these texts still left room to create counter-hegemonic discourses, allowed for alternative readings and subversive re-writings, and incited (sub-cultural) agency as a challenge to prevalent …read more
Today, Dr Sibylle Erle (Bishop Grosseteste University)continues her reflection on Blake’s Visionary Heads…
On This Day in 1820: The Visionary Heads and William Blake’s attitude towards Death
This Blog post has 2 parts. Click here to view part 1.
This blog discusses Blake’s Visionary Heads not as a spiritual phenomenon but as an expression of continuing bonds and Blake’s attitude towards death. If we think of the drawing sessions not as séances but as contacts with the spiritual world, Blake’s vision about life after death will come into focus. While the early heads were created in a séance-like ambience, as noted by Bentley (2004 363, 366), the later ones are different. By 1820, the wild, mad and eccentric Blake had calmed down; his new-found serenity, according to Bentley, is reflected in the faces of the later Visionary Heads (2002, 184).
Blake’s first biographer Benjamin Heath Malkin notes that Blake resented drawing from life and spoke of it ‘as looking more like death’ (quoted in Bentley 2004, 564). Many will agree that in Blake’s sketches …read more
2020 presents yet another exciting year for Romantic bicentenaries. We’ve already shared ‘On This Day’ posts about Lord Byron, John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Today we are delighted to present a reflection on William Blake in September 1820 by Dr Sibylle Erle (Bishop Grosseteste University).
Would you like to contribute to a future post about literary and/or historical events from 200 years ago? Get in touch!
On This Day in 1820: 18 September, William Blake draws Pindar the Greek Poet and Lais the Courtesan (Visionary Heads) for John Varley
This Blog post will have two parts. Check back tomorrow to read part II for more on William Blake’s Visionary Heads.
According to its inscription, which was written by John Linnell (1792-1882), William Blake (1757-1827) drew ‘Pindar and Lais the Courtesan’ on 18 September 1820 (Butlin 1981, #711). Blake drew for an audience but only Blake could see who he was drawing.
Pindar (died c. 439BC) was a well-known, now canonical, lyric poet in Ancient Greece. Blake, who mentions ‘Pindar’ in passing in An Island in the Moon (1784), would have deepened his knowledge when illustrating Thomas Gray’s poems (c.1797-98). He would have been familiar with the apocryphal …read more
Jane Spencer is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Exeter. Her numerous publications include the monographs The Rise of the Woman Novelist (1986), Elizabeth Gaskell (1993), Aphra Behn’s Afterlife (2000) and Literary Relations: Kinship and the Canon, 1660-1830 (2005); the edited collection Political Gender (1994; with Josephine McDonagh and Sally Ledger); The Rover and Other Plays (1995); and essays ranging across fiction, poetry, drama and periodicals from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. Her essay collection Reading Literary Animals: Medieval to Modern, co-edited with Karen Edwards and Derek Ryan, came out with Routledge in 2019. Her most recent book, Writing about Animals in the Age of Revolution, which we discuss below, was published in June 2020 by Oxford University Press.
On Sunday 28th June 2020 members of European Romanticisms in Association came together for the third meeting of the AHRC-funded Dreaming Romantic Europe network, led by PI Professor Nicola J Watson (Open University) and Co-I Professor Catriona Seth (University of Oxford). While the workshop was due to have been hosted by Jeff Cowton at Dove Cottage in Grasmere in honour of the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth, the Covid-19 pandemic meant that some changes had to be made to this original plan. Not to be deterred however, the organising committee reimagined the workshop as a digital conference, which was held over Zoom, hosted by Cowton and Wordsworth Grasmere.
While the workshop may not have taken the form originally envisaged, the virtual format was a resounding success. In addition to allowing us to open up registration to auditors from across the world who may not otherwise have been able to attend, the digital nature of the meeting spoke well to the workshop theme of “Romantic Media” and, in keeping with RÊVE, the virtual exhibition at the centre of the project, provided an exciting glimpse into the …read more
CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK TO THE CRAFTING THROUGH COVID1798 LADY’S MAGAZINE PATTERN AND STEP-BY-STEPS BY ALISON LARKIN
Welcome back and I hope you’ve been keeping safe and well! It’s been a very strange and difficult time for us all, hasn’t it? In all the chaos and worry of the last few months, the Lady’s Magazine has been one of the things keeping me sane. I’ve been busy writing a piece on illustrations in the periodical and most busy finishing up (well: nearly finishing up) my book, The Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832) and the Making of Literary History (all 115000 words of it!). I’ve also been doing lots of talks and lovely online events about Jane Austen Embroidery, a history and craft book by me and professional embroiderer, Alison Larkin, that adapts 15 patterns from the Lady’s Magazine for modern readers and situates the magazine, the patterns and the projects in terms of the lives of Georgian women, the world they lived in and, of course, the life and works of Jane Austen. (We know she read the magazine, of course.)
I have to say that when the book came out with Pavilion in March, Alison and I were …read more
The Bigger 6 Collective was formed in 2017 to challenge structural racism in the academic study of Romanticism.
The Bigger 6 Collective is a group of literary and cultural critics whose commitment to anti-racist and anti-colonial politics grounds their study of the global 18th and 19th centuries and their long (after)lives. They endeavor to effect structural changes in our discipline and institutions by promoting scholarly and creative work by historically marginalized people, those excluded from the Romantic canon, and those excluded from the field of Romanticism. In so doing, they undiscipline Romanticism, build from it rather than within it, and establish lines of radical inquiry that lead, they hope, to politically urgent thought and insurgent actions.
The Bigger 6 Collective has launched a new website. Click Hereto visit it.