BARS Exchange

BARS Exchange

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

Archive for December 2016

London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Martin Procházka, 13 January 2017, Senate House, London



The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will he held on Friday 13 January 2017 in the Bloomsbury Room (G35) in Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30. As our distinguished guest speaker, we are delighted to welcome Martin Procházka of Charles University, Prague, a leading international scholar of Romanticism and an acclaimed literary theorist. His talk, entitled The Phantasmal Imagination: Biographia Literaria and Continental Philosophy, will be followed by a discussion and a wine reception to which all are invited. Admission is free.

Martin Procházka, FEA, is Professor of English, American and Comparative Literature and the Head of the Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Charles University, Prague. His books include Romanticism and Personality (1996, in Czech) on Romantic subjectivity and its forms in Coleridge’s and Byron’s poetry; Transversals (2008), a collection of essays on Romanticism as the first pluralistic project of modern culture and its dilemmas of freedom and determinism, cultural identity and hybridity, nomadism and “imagined communities”; and Ruins in the New World (2012), which outlines an alternative cultural history of the U.S. focusing on apocalyptic thought and imagination and their impact on the uses of ruins, especially the ghost towns of the …read more


Romantic readings: ‘To My Sister’, by William Wordsworth

By Paul Kleian

An 1803 sketch of Wordsworth and Coleridge that includes what may be an image of Dorothy.

by Eavan Boland

I’ve always believed there are certain pieces of writing which are magic doors in locked houses. Just as we think we’ll never get entry, never be able to go in, this one door springs open at our slightest touch. And after that we can come and go as we please. Wordsworth’s “To My Sister” is one of these and one of my favorite poems. It is modest, quirky, and off the beaten track, a poem that goes along at a companionable walking pace—conversational, talky, and apparently throwaway. But appearances are deceptive. For all its downright reticence, this poem shines a challenging light on one of the most troubling aspects of Romanticism, one of its most problematic inheritances: in other words the corrosive history of the Sublime.

Although the idea may be as old as Longinus, at this moment in history it had a particular power. In the late 1740’s, some fifty years before the poem was written, the critic John Baillie wrote that “vast objects occasion vast Sensations and vast sensations give the Mind a Higher Idea of her own Powers.” In Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Treatise into the Origins of our ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, …read more


BARS Stephen Copley Research Awards 2017

By Anna Mercer

Please see the details below for how to apply for a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award. Contact Dr Daniel Cook ( for further information and enquiries.

Stephen Copley Research Awards

Postgraduates and early career scholars working in the area of Romanticism are invited to apply for a Stephen Copley Research Award. The BARS Executive Committee has established the bursaries in order to help fund expenses incurred through travel to libraries and archives, up to a maximum of £300. A postgraduate must be enrolled on a doctoral programme in the UK; an early career scholar is defined as someone who holds a PhD (from the UK) but has not held a permanent academic post for more than three years by the application deadline. Application for the awards is competitive, and cannot be made retrospectively.

Successful applicants must be members of BARS before taking up the award. The names of recipients will be announced on the BARS website and social media, and successful applicants will be asked to submit a short report to the BARS Executive Committee within four weeks of the completion of the research trip and to acknowledge BARS in their doctoral thesis and/or any publication. Previous winners or applicants are encouraged …read more


‘[T]his beautiful city’: ‘Narrative and Nation’’s Field Trip to Bath

By sophiecoulombeau Blog post by Jannat Ahmed (@PemberleyParade). Photo credits to Caitlin Coxon (@CoxonCaitlin), Anthony Mandal (@CardiffBookHistory) and Sophie Coulombeau (@SMCoulombeau). This year, the MA Narrative and Nation cohort, led by Dr Sophie Coulombeau and Professor Anthony Mandal, had the wonderful opportunity and pleasure to go on a field trip to Bath. Our psychogeographic exploration of … Continue reading ‘[T]his beautiful city’: ‘Narrative and Nation”s Field Trip to Bath …read more


19 (Issue 23): The Arts and Feeling

By dustinfrazierwood

19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century has published its 23rd issue, on the theme of ‘The Arts and Feeling’. The issue’s ten articles are introduced by Victoria Mills’ essay ‘Curating Feeling’, a response to the recent Fallen Woman exhibition at The Foundling Museum.

This issue explores the ways in which Victorian writers, artists, composers, sculptors, and architects imagined, conceptualized, and represented emotion. Its diverse articles respond to and extend recent interdisciplinary work on emotions, sentimentality, and the senses, locating such work within wider debates about the physiology and psychology of aesthetic perception, the historicization of aesthetic response, and the role of media specificity in the production of affect. What were the expressive codes and conventions that resonated for the Victorians? And what of the terminology used today in academic discourse to locate, recognize, and describe feeling? ‘The Arts and Feeling’ interrogates such questions in relation to canonical artworks, like John Everett Millais’s Autumn Leaves or William Holman Hunt’s The Awakening Conscience. It investigates the role of feeling in religious visual and material culture, and in John Ruskin’s vision of architecture as an emotional art; it looks at Victorian exhibition culture and the ‘hurried’ nature of aesthetic response, and …read more


On This Day in 1816: 10th December and the tragic death of Harriet Shelley

By Anna Mercer

Harriet's suicide letter. Bodleian Libraries, Oxford.

We welcome Francesca Blanch Serrat to the BARS blog for the second time; Francesca is a pre-doctoral student and has written the following post on Harriet Shelley. She recently graduated in English Studies with a minor in Gender Studies from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Her areas of research include minor women writers of the eighteenth century and British and French Romanticism. She is on Twitter.

We are always looking for new contributors. If you’d like to write something on literary/historical events in 1817, please contact We also welcome proposals from those who wish to write about 1817 more generally, and not about a specific date. We hope you are enjoying this series!

The Life and Death of Harriet Westbrook Shelley

On this day, December 10th, two hundred years ago, the body of Harriet Shelley, née Westbrook, was recovered from the Serpentine in Hyde Park. It was a pensioner of the Chelsea Hospital, John Levesley (Shepherd, 2013) who saw the corpse floating in the lake and alerted the authorities. After the inquest, it was discovered that the remains belonged to a Harriet Smith (she had taken lodgings under that surname), who had disappeared a month before. She was pregnant when she …read more


Shelley in the 21st century

By Paul Kleian

Poetical essay

by Graham Henderson

Most writing on Shelley seems frustratingly designed for scholarly audiences and much of it is almost unreadable by anyone outside a university setting. Most of the books and articles written between 1980 and around 2005 are written in a scholarly style that limits readership to a handful of people: esoteric, jargon-filled, arcane and at times pompous.

This is a pity because many of these books contain extremely important insights that would help the lay reader to better understand Shelley’s intent in writing a poem like Prometheus Unbound. For my part, I hope to write about Shelley in a manner that is straightforward and accessible.

Evidence of the extent of the problem abounds today. When the Guardian published a recently discovered, highly charged, political poem by Shelley, the reactions in the comments section were telling.

The Guardian readership is literate and engaged, yet the vast majority of the hundreds of comments which were posted suggested that even a literate audience had a very poor understanding of who Shelley was and what his philosophical and political preoccupations were. Here is a representative sampling of how readers reacted to the poem:

Maybe Corbyn ought to quote this Shelley stuff at [ Parliamentary Questions].

If Jeremy …read more


The Last Man: A Post-Apocalyptic Opera

By Catherine Redford

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my major research interests is Romantic literature that depicts the Last Man on earth following an apocalyptic event – I have previously written about John Martin’s watercolour of 1832 © Laing Art Gallery

John Martin’s oil painting of 1849 © Walker Art Gallery
The Christian outlook of Campbell’s poem is even more apparent in another picture of the Last Man that was based on this text: J. M. W. Turner’s ‘The Last Man’ (1837). In this painting, the Last Man is a tower of strength and faith, kneeling – just in case you missed those comparisons with Christ(!) – in front of a huge, glowing cross.

J. M. W. Turner’s ‘The Last Man’ (1837) © National Gallery of Scotland

Campbell’s poem, however, didn’t just inspire the art world. In 1826, an operatic scene based on Campbell’s text and set to music by William H. Callcott was performed to rave reviews. The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review commended the composer’s choice of poem, observing that the composition ‘is really a work in which genius shews [sic] forth’. Other publications recommended the …read more