BARS Exchange

BARS Exchange

Aggregated blogs on Romantic Studies – please click through to read full posts.

BARS 2017 Reports: Part I

By Anna Mercer

Conference Banquet. Via @BARS_official on twitter

Thank you to everyone who came along to our international biennial conference:

BARS 2017

Romantic Improvement

The University of York

27-30 July

This was the 15th conference of the British Association for Romantic Studies.

Postgraduate bursary winners have been invited to write short reports on their experience as a delegate and/or speaker at the event. Here are the first three – more to follow at a later date.

Enjoy! You can also see the storify of the tweets, and pictures from the event, here.

Sarah Faulkner (University of Washington)

I had a wonderful time at BARS–and that wasn’t just because of the discounted ice cream, though that was a serious plus. I really enjoyed the collegiality of the conference, especially between Romanticists at all stages of their career. I felt invited to speak with senior faculty, and found new, wonderful friends among other graduate students. Having just come from the wonderful Austen/Staël conference at Chawton House Library, it was wonderful to reconnect with other Chawton delegates, and to really feel like I was a part of the Romanticist community. I have always felt a bit like an imposter in Romanticism since I study women’s novels rather than male poetry, but this conference changed that …read more


Sarah Comyn’s SouthHem Write-Up on Institutions as Networks

By msangster

Sarah Comyn, who gave an excellent paper on mechanics’ institutes in the colony of Victoria as part of a panel of presenters from the SouthHem project at ‘Institutions as Networks’, has written an illuminating breakdown of the workshop’s discussions, which can be seen on the SouthHem project site.

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‘The light in the depth of the Temple’: Wordsworth and Rembrandt

By Lynn Shepherd

Storm over the Mountains c 1842-3, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Tate London

by Brian Miller

The sculptor Auguste Rodin once denied the suggestion that he shared an ounce of genius with that Dutch nonesuch: “Compare me with Rembrandt! What sacrilege! With Rembrandt, the colossus of Art! We should prostrate ourselves before Rembrandt and never compare anyone with him!”

The imperative to place Rembrandt on a pedestal might have come from Rodin’s idea that art was a quasi-religion and the artist at his best (as Rodin considered Rembrandt to be) was very near a god. Even today, like Rodin we’re quite comfortable compartmentalizing not only personage and period, but artistic medium. Case in point: few people today, when they think of Wordsworth, tend to think of Rembrandt. Perhaps naturally so. One was a poet, the other a painter, and if there’s any misgiving, they were separated by 100 years and at least five times as many miles.

And, also quite naturally, we usually associate Wordsworth more with his artistic contemporaries. Fragments of the unique quality that filters through Wordsworth’s poetry are certainly identifiable in the pastoral scenes of John Constable, particularly in his attention to capturing the true face of his native Dedham Vale. And the diffusions of cloud, light, and land evident …read more


Susan Bennett on the Society of Arts

By msangster

(Many thanks to Susan Bennett (William Shipley Group for Royal Society of Arts History) for allowing us to publish the wide-ranging talk that she gave on the RSA’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century connections at the ‘Institutions as Networks’ workshop.)

‘Little more…than of a Society in the moon’: Publicising the work of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (1754-1900)

Often confused with its sister societies, the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries and, because of the shortened form of its name also the Royal Academy of Arts, the Society of Arts’ membership represented the ‘Nobility, Clergy, Gentry, Merchants, etc’ from its very first meeting in 1754. Through this network, through its activities and through its publications the Society presents a wide variety of connections and networks, which this paper attempts to illuminate.

Foundation meeting of the Society of Arts, held at Rawthmell’s Coffee House 22nd March 1754, by Anna Zinkeisen, 1954. (c) RSA.

In a footnote in the first volume of his Annals of Agriculture and other Useful Arts, the agriculturist, Arthur Young hoped that ‘the excellent Society…of Arts…will not be forgotten’. In my opinion’, he added, it has ‘done by far more good with an income …read more


Julian Pooley on the Nichols Family and the Society of Antiquaries

By msangster

(Many thanks to Julian Pooley (University of Leicester) for this fascinating account of the paper that he gave in the opening session of the ‘Institutions as Networks’ workshop: ‘”Dry, thorny and barbarous paths?”: The Nicholses, their Press and the Society of Antiquaries, 1777-1873′.)

I’m preparing an analytical guide to the vast, scattered archive of three generations of the Nichols family. John Nichols (1745-1826), John Bowyer Nichols (177-1863) and John Gough Nichols (1806-1873) were all printers, antiquaries and biographers, in contact through their printing business, editorship of the Gentleman’s Magazine and research interests with members of learned societies, fellow members of the book trade and private scholars across a wide range of disciplines. The database that I am using to manage detailed calendars of their letters, transcripts of their diaries and travel journals and descriptions of other papers allows us to map their contacts, trace the development of their friendships and assess the ways in which they were able to link together people of like mind and disseminate ideas and the results of research. Although I have often described the Nicholses as being at the ‘heart of the antiquarian network’ this workshop helped me to see them more …read more


The Letter to Maria Gisborne

By annamercer90

I recently attended and gave a paper at the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) conference. A wonderful gathering of Romanticists in York.

My supervisor (Dr. Jim Watt) was one of the organisers and it was a great event. I’d also like to thank him again for all his help – I have just submitted my minor corrections after my Viva on the 6 July.

Jim invited me to produce a Research Poster to go on display. Here it is – and if you want to read more about this research, please see my article in the Keats-Shelley Review.

More soon! & don’t forget to check out The Shelley Conference 2017 programme, now online here.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 20.16.02

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‘The Albatross’: From Rime to opera

By Lynn Shepherd

The albatross

by Sinéad O’Neill

Melville was right when he wrote, of the Albatross, ‘that white phantom sails in all imaginations.’ It sailed then, and it sails still. Coleridge’s poem on the same subject also haunts the collective imagination. It has certainly caught my fancy, enough to make me want to create an opera. Even people unfamiliar with the Rime of the Ancient Mariner get a certain sort of chill down the spine when it’s mentioned, along with a feeling that it somehow deals with fate, wildness, the merciless emptiness of wide seas, and the terrible, haunting burden of one’s former actions. This eerie atmosphere that coalesces around the poem makes it perfect for operatic treatment. Like Poe’s The Raven (which I also made into an opera) the has a life of its own. We don’t need to bring the poem to our audience; we can play (and sing!) into the place it already occupies in the audience’s imagination.

For a start, we don’t have to begin by trying to set the whole text to music. To my mind, that would miss the point: the Rime already has a textual life. A stage, though, is made out of space, not words. An …read more


Copley Report: James Beattie by R. J. W. Mills

By Anna Mercer

Please see below for Robin Mills’ report on their 2017 research funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Award.

Stephen Copley Award 2017 Recipient Report – R. J. W. Mills

I am very grateful to have been a recipient of one of the British Association for Romantic Studies’ Stephen Copley Awards for 2017. The funds given to me paid for two research trips to archives in Scotland: one to the University of Aberdeen in April 2017 and one to Edinburgh University in June 2017. During both I conducted research on the extensive manuscript collections relating to the poet and philosopher James Beattie (1735–1803) as part of my ongoing research project to write the first modern scholarly biography of Beattie. The research undertaken has enabled me to flesh out further Beattie’s literary and philosophical activities during the 1760s and early 1770s. As a result, I am hoping to soon make the case that some of the philosophical and poetical writings that emerged out of 1760s Aberdeen was of a very different quality to the ‘philosophy of the human mind’ usually associated with the Aberdeen Enlightenment.

Exploration of the Beattie correspondence in Aberdeen has allowed me to deepen my understanding of the life and work of …read more


Call for Papers: Collage, Montage, Assemblage: Collected and Composite Forms, 1700-Present

By Anna Mercer

Thanks to Freya Gowrley for sending in this exciting new Call for Papers.

CfP: Collage, Montage, Assemblage: Collected and Composite Forms, 1700-Present (University of Edinburgh, 18-19 April 2018)

Deadline for abstracts: 1 December 2017

This two-day multidisciplinary conference will explore the medium of collage across an unprecedentedly broad chronological range, considering its production and consumption over a period of more than three hundred years. While research on paper collage plays a key role in histories of modern art, particularly of the 1920s and 1930s, its longer history and diverse range of manifestations are often overlooked within art historical scholarship. Though important work is being done on collage at both the level of the individual work and the medium more broadly, this has often overlooked collage’s multitudinous forms and assorted temporal variants. This conference accordingly aims to tackle this oversight by thinking about collage across history, medium, and discipline. Employing an inclusive definition of the term, the conference invites papers discussing a variety of material, literary, and musical forms of collage, including traditional papier collé alongside practices such as writing, making music and commonplacing, and the production of composite objects such as grangerized texts, decoupage, quilts, shellwork, scrapbooks, assemblage, and photomontage.

In …read more