BARS Exchange

BARS Exchange

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

Archive for September 2014

Publication Announcement – Illustrations to Thomas Gray’s poems

By Andrea H. Everett

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of a fully searchable electronic edition of Blake’s 116 water color illustrations to Thomas Gray’s poems. The Archive first published these designs in April 2005 in our Preview mode. This republication substantially increases the number and range of Blake’s pictorial motifs available for searching on the Archive.

The designs for Gray’s poems are among Blake’s major achievements as an illustrator. They were commissioned in 1797 by Blake’s friend, the sculptor John Flaxman, as a gift for his wife Ann, to whom Blake addressed the poem that ends the series. The commission may have been inspired by the Flaxmans’ seeing Blake’s water color designs to Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, begun in 1795. The Gray illustrations follow the same basic format. Blake cut windows in large sheets of paper and mounted in these windows the texts of Gray’s poems from a 1790 letterpress edition. Blake then drew and colored his designs surrounding the printed texts. Although listed by William Michael Rossetti in his catalogue of Blake’s drawings and paintings, published in the 1863 and 1880 editions of Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake, the Gray illustrations were virtually unknown until …read more


“And Now Begins a New life”

By Blake House

Milton copy D, pl. 36. Library of Congress (image from the Blake Archive).

Blake was full of optimism and sea air when he wrote to John Flaxman after he and Catherine arrived at the cottage in Felpham (though he did remark on the amount of luggage—mostly his stuff, not hers). He immortalized it in Milton pl. 36 and is now immortalized in turn by a blue plaque on the wall. A postcard from the early twentieth century shows the house surrounded by cruciferous vegetables in a scene rather more prosaic than that depicted by Blake.

Image from Robert N. Essick.

The cabbages have gone now, but the cottage still stands. In 2013 it went on the market for the first time in many years at a price of £650,000 (see the listing and some lovely photos here).

Now the Blake Society of London is spearheading an effort to buy the property for the public good, so that we will have the opportunity to visit Blake’s cottage just as we can Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage or Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top. It’s a crowdfunding venture and £520,000 needs to be raised in the next five weeks, by the end of …read more


Transcribe what you…read?

By Laura Whitebell

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 15.47.38

As Eric discussed last week, a group of us have been working on Vala, or The Four Zoas : a project that has been occupying a large chunk of my emotional and intellectual energy lately. It’s pretty intimidating to tackle a work that is notoriously difficult and the realisation that our early transcription attempts break the way that the Archive currently handles and displays text has been disheartening. However, looking on the bright side, pushing a system to its limits actually helps you to understand it more fully, which not only affects future work but has helped me to think more deeply about past and current projects.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, our conversations about the element have made me realize that we usually encode Blake’s works from top to bottom, from left to right. This may seem obvious, and generally makes sense since he is often writing in English, but it does uncover a basic principle of the Archive that I had never thought about. Of course, The Four Zoas is not the first work to complicate our understanding of how text gets organized spatially: take a work like Laocoön where the words wind and …read more


Voices and Books at the British Library, 11th November 2014

By admin

Please see below for a notice on the next Voices and Books network event, which includes a number of talks likely to be of interest to Romanticists. Attendance is free.

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AHRC Network ‘Voices and Books 1500-1800′

Public Workshop

Tuesday 11 November, 2014

Convenor: Dr Arnold Hunt with Professor Jennifer Richards

Location: The Conference Centre at the British Library

How did people read aloud in the past? How do we do that now? And why does it matter that we recover and reflect on this experience? At this workshop we will discuss the many different ways in which the experience of listening to books, past and present, can be recorded and analysed, and the archives we might use, from the British Library’s Sound Archive to The Reading Experience Database. We will also hear and talk with the award-winning poet and radio broadcaster, Professor Sean O’Brien, about writing for listeners.

9.00: Arrival and welcome

9.30: Chris Reid (QMUL): ‘Parliamentary Voices: Speaking and Reporting in the House of Commons, 1750-1800′

10.15: Arnold Hunt (British Library): ‘Reading sermons aloud, 1600-1900′

11.00: Break

11.30: Barbara Ravelhofer (Durham): ‘Speech and Style in Early Modern Drama: lessons from the Shirley Project’

12.30: Buffet Lunch

1.30: Josie Billington (Liverpool): ‘Shared Reading Aloud in Contemporary …read more


Transparency is Collaboration

By Eric Loy

Manuscript of William Blake's Vala, or the Four Zoas

A few of us at the Blake Archive are working on new markup strategies for the infamously difficult Blake manuscript known editorially as Vala, or the Four Zoas. There’s a great (great, great…) deal to be said–and will be said, eventually–about that project specifically, but first a note on some recent collaboration.

Our group was working on some new XML tags for Blake Archive manuscripts to account for FZ‘s multilayered, disparately laid-out composition. Just take a look:

We’re trying to construct a schema that can describe layered revisions in one location without necessarily connecting them to revisions in other areas. Our earliest attempts involve a combination of and definitions that Hardeep drafted. Laura then looked for precedent in the use of zone in recent projects.

Here’s where the collaboration comes in. Laura found some excellent examples of in the Shelley-Godwin Archive‘s markup of the Frankenstein notebooks. We particularly like attributions, as we’re not sure at this point if we want to encode specific coordinates or link areas conceptually (or both). Either way, looking at the S-G examples helped us understand how was being used “in the wild” …read more


Teaching Romanticism VII: Walter Scott

By danielcook by Daniel Cook As part of this ongoing series on Teaching Romanticism we will consider the ways in which we lecture on and discuss individual authors, whether during author-specific modules or broader period surveys. I thought it would be particularly useful to hear about which texts educators use and in what context, whether they place […] …read more


BARS 2015: Romantic Imprints – Call for Papers and Panel Proposals

By admin


Proposals are invited for the 2015 British Association for Romantic Studies international conference which will be held at Cardiff University, Wales (UK) on 16–19 July 2015. The theme of the interdisciplinary conference is Romantic Imprints, broadly understood to include the various literary, cultural, historical and political manifestations of Romantic print culture across Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world. Our focus will fall on the ways in which the culture of the period was conscious of itself as functioning within and through, or as opposed to, the medium of print. The conference location in the Welsh capital provides a special opportunity to foreground the Welsh inflections of Romanticism within the remit of the conference’s wider theme. The two-hundredth anniversary of Waterloo also brings with it the chance of thinking about how Waterloo was represented within and beyond print.

The confirmed keynote speakers for Romantic Imprints will be John Barrell (Queen Mary, London), James Chandler (Chicago), Claire Connolly (Cork), Peter Garside (Edinburgh) and Devoney Looser (Arizona State).

The conference is open to various …read more


Preliminary Notice for John Keats: Poet-Physician

By admin

Keats Lecture Card

Please see below for a preliminary notice for the second Keats Foundation bicentennial conference, which will take place at Guy’s Hospital next May.

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John Keats: Poet-Physician
A Bicentenary Conference at Guy’s Hospital
1-3 May 2015

Confirmed Speakers include

Jenny Uglow
(Author of In these Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815)

Druin Burch
(Author of Digging up the Dead: Uncovering the Life and Times of an Extraordinary Surgeon)

Jeffrey Cox
(Author of Romanticism in the Shadow of War: Literary Culture in the Napoleonic War Years)

Damian Walford Davies
(Author of Presences that Disturb: Modalities of Romantic Influence in Twentieth-Century Literature)

R. S. White
(Author of John Keats. A Literary Life)

Guest of Honour: Stuart Curran
(Author of Poetic Form and British Romanticism)

The Keats Foundation is delighted to announce that its second John Keats Bicentenary Conference will be held at Guy’s Hospital, Southwark, London, from Friday 1 May to Sunday 3 May 2015, marking two hundred years since Keats enrolled as a student at the Hospital. The Conference is organised by the Keats Foundation (U. K. Registered Charity 1147589), and follows a successful first bicentenary conference at Keats House, Hampstead. The 2015 Conference themes embrace all aspects of Keats’s medical-poetic career: his writings during the Guy’s Hospital years; the poet-physician and physician-poet; …read more


Five Questions: James Grande on William Cobbett

By admin

William Cobbett, the Press and Rural England

James Grande currently works at King’s College London as a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC-funded project ‘Music in London, 1800-1851‘. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Oxford and moved to KCL in 2011 to take up a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. He has worked on William Godwin, the literary cultures of London and Norfolk, Dissent, and on a range of other Romantic-period topics, but the central figure in his research is William Cobbett, the subject of his first monograph, William Cobbett, the Press and Rural England, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in July. Below, we discuss this book below alongside his co-edited collection The Opinions of William Cobbett, which was published by Ashgate last year.

1) How did you first encounter William Cobbett, and how did you come to decide that you wanted to dedicate your doctoral thesis and (thus far) two books to examining him?

I first came across Cobbett through a special author paper on Hazlitt that I took in the final year of my undergraduate degree. I read Hazlitt’s ‘Character …read more


Toe the Line: Defining (Part 1)

By Laura Whitebell

Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 4.28.20 PM

One of the main ways that we organize Blake Archive works while encoding is through “line groups”, an element represented by in our BADs (Blake Archive Description). Here’s the formal definition from our documentation:

. This element identifies line groups–i.e., blocks of text on the object, such as stanzas or paragraphs. For verse, simply use , but for prose text (i.e., not poetry), use the type with value “prose”: e.g., .

As BAND has been preparing typographic works for publication, we have encountered a number of new transcription, display and encoding problems related to “secondary text” (discussed most recently by Eric here and Megan here) including one that questions the status of our beloved . So, riddle me this Ye Transcription Gods, if poetry is and prose is , then what is text that is neither poetry nor prose? For example, most of our typographic works include a running header across the top of the page, how should we categorize that?

This is object 2 of a letter that Blake wrote to Hayley on 18 December 1804. The original is no longer in existence, so we have used photography from Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William …read more