Thanks to the generous support of BARS and the Stephen Copley Research Award, I am freshly returned from a glorious week’s worth of rummaging through the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. My PhD examines the narrative function of the horse-drawn carriage in Jane Austen’s fictions, and investigates its cultural significance in wider Georgian society. I support my literary enquiries with a few key contemporary trade sources on the design and construction of carriages, but as I’ve discovered over the course of my research, eighteenth-century coach-makers were a fiercely secretive bunch and frustratingly little archival evidence survives today. In comes the John Johnson Collection’s boxes and boxes of carriage related trade ephemera!
Print and visual depictions of private carriages, stage and mail coaches, driving disasters, stately processions and everything in between abound in libraries and archives, the carriage seems to have been a favourite target for eighteenth-century cartoonists and novelists alike to publicly lampoon. Whilst I relish the fact my doctoral work means I get to study …read more
This event was not only the bicentenary of the publication of ‘The Vampyre’ but also 200 years since John Keats lived at the conference venue: the beautiful Keats House, Hampstead. We began the symposium with a fascinating tour round the house by Rob Shakespeare where we saw a first edition of ‘The Vampyre’ (which may possibly have been owned by Keats).
Our first paper was by Nick Groom, who began with an outline of the reports on vampires from Eastern Europe that arose in the early eighteenth century and how they were transformed into literary forms. Referring to the momentous occasion in 1816 at the Villa Diodati, Nick elaborated an unexpected and illuminating notion of the vampiric elements in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Mary, we learn, had called Percy a vampire), such as blood imagery, blood transfusion, and the story itself as contagious and blood-chilling. This culminates in a reading of Frankenstein as recognising the situation of non-human nature.
This May, thanks to the BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, I was able to spend a week in Derby Local Studies and Family History Library. I carried out research into poet and political orator turned speech therapist, John Thelwall, and his “Derby Manuscript”. The collection, contained within three volumes of notebooks and spanning almost a thousand pages, includes poetry on subjects as diverse as Thelwall’s own career and was identified by Judith Thompson in 2004. The manuscript, begun after Thelwall’s “retirement” from political lecturing, contains not only published and unpublished poems from this period of his life, but also reworkings of earlier published work, including several poems from his 1793 “politico-sentimental journal” The Peripatetic.
Derby Local Studies and Family History Library
My PhD thesis explores speech production in British literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with a particular focus on the work of Erasmus Darwin, John Thelwall and Percy Bysshe Shelley. I aim to argue that speech production becomes a focal point for these writers …read more
The following report is by Charlotte May (University of Nottingham).
‘Romantic Interactions’ Conference
Jagiellonian University in Krakow
4thand 5th April 2019
The ‘Romantic Interactions’ conference at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow interrogated two key definitions of interaction: firstly, social, artistic and literary interactions in the Romantic period itself; and secondly, how readers, audiences and writers have interacted with the Romantic period through different mediums over the past two hundred years.
The conference opened with the first plenary lecture delivered by Mary Jacobus, exploring ‘Keats’ Apollonian Afterlives’. The afternoon included panels on German Romanticism, the Classical Tradition, Cross-cultural and Transatlantic Interactions, and Negative Capability and Poetic Imagination. Brittany Pladek (Marquette University) provided one of many fantastic insights into how we might trace the reception of classical tradition in the Romantic period in the current political climate, including how responses to the #MeToo movement could be found in constructions of guilt in the epic tradition. Keats was very much on the mind of participants in the later afternoon session, with discussions on negative capability heavily influenced by Mary Jacobus’s plenary lecture earlier that day.
The day ended with a wonderful conference dinner at Kawaleria restaurant in Krakow. As Keats had been the focus of many conversations, and Byron …read more
The following post is by Alice Rhodes (University of York). If you haven’t heard of RÊVE before, then read on to find out more about this exciting project:
RÊVE (Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition) is an interdisciplinary online project which showcases iconic European Romantic objects, places, and texts in a series of original blog posts from researchers and heritage professionals from across the continent. The virtual exhibition aims to assess and reassess Romanticism’s transnational perspectives and to provide an innovative resource for teaching, thinking and writing about Romanticism in new and productive ways. RÊVE is the core project of ERA (European Romanticisms in Association), a group which brings together scholarly associations and heritage organisations, including BARS, from around Europe.
The exhibition currently contains 26 exhibits, and existing and upcoming posts feature a wealth of Romantic objects of all kinds, from furniture, clothing and jewellery, to publications and artworks, and even clouds, caves, trees and mountains. Some of the most recent highlights include:
In the summer of 1814, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin embarked upon a whirlwind romance that would shape her life forever. Her relationship with Percy Shelley spanned approximately 9 years until his untimely death in the Gulf of Spezia, where he tragically drowned. During this time, Mary was almost always either pregnant or breastfeeding. Motherhood preoccupied her and her journals reveal both the overwhelming love she felt towards her children and the crushing despair she felt when they passed away.
Her first child, Clara, was born prematurely and lived only a few days. Mary recounts a recurring dream in which she was able to resuscitate her baby: “Dreamt that my little baby came to life again – that it had only been cold & that we rubbed it by the fire & it lived – I awake & find no baby – I think about the little thing all day”. Mary’s second child, William, affectionately known as ‘Willmouse’, was born in January 1816 and was a few months old when Mary, Percy, and her half-sister Claire Clairmont travelled to Geneva, where she began writing Frankenstein. According to the novel’s 1831 preface, Frankenstein also came to Mary Shelley in a dream, and the story’s …read more
The Liberal Revolutions of 1820 and their Impact on Literary Culture
University of Minho, Braga | CEHUM
June 29 and 30, 2020
Organised by the Institute of Arts and Humanities, Centre for Humanistic Studies, in association with the Anglo-Hispanic Horizons Network (AHH)
Taking advantage of the bicentenary celebrations of the liberal revolutions that occurred in southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece) around 1820, but with repercussions in other regions and cultures, this international conference aims to constitute a forum of discussion around the impact that these revolutions had on the literary culture of several countries. Driven by the republican ideals of the French and American Revolutions and by the various independence and nationalist movements, the liberal and constitutionalist wave that swept across several European nations (and their respective colonies) in the first decades of the nineteenth century aimed to completely eradicate the absolutism and feudalism that still prevailed within these monarchist nations, at the end of the Napoleonic invasions. Thus, we are interested in analysing the impact that these movements and striking events had on the literary culture of the nineteenth century, particularly in the works that were then produced in several countries; but we are also interested in exploring the decisive role …read more