This report is by Jonathan Taylor (University of Surrey), a recipient of the Stephen Copley Research grant.
My Stephen Copley Research Award funded a trip to Edinburgh to consult the National Records of Scotland’s and Scottish National Gallery’s collections of letters and drawings by the painter Alexander Runciman (1736-85).
What interests me about Runciman — who is best known as the creator of the first (now sadly lost) decorative scheme based on James Macpherson’s Ossian epics — is his heroic treatment of female characters from the epic tradition. Whereas other late eighteenth-century artists (most notably Angelica Kauffman) had pioneered painters’ treatment of women as heroic subjects, they also tended to circumscribe the heroism of female epic characters, such as Andromache and Penelope, to passive acts of suffering and endurance. In several instances, Runciman
went a step further, representing the suffering of female epic heroes not as something in which they have no agency, but something that they bravely elect to undergo. This is most obviously the case in Runciman’s depiction of Corgan Carglâ, a hunter from Macpherson’s Ossian, who chooses to be imprisoned in a cave for life
rather than submit to her husband’s murderer.
Before my research trip, I thought I had discerned …read more
Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton
The 19th September 2019 marks the 200-year anniversary of Keats’s composition of the ode ‘To Autumn’. As this date approaches, I am struck by how the ode continues to capture the imaginations of modern readers, transcending its sociohistorical boundaries to resonate with the attitudes and concerns of the present day. In particular, I am drawn to the presence of bees in the ode’s opening stanza. Buzzing with insect and animal life, Keats’s ode is often celebrated for the ease with which it balances the sensuous plenitude of seasonal growth against the anticipation of natural loss and decay. Bees are essential figures in this balancing act. Keats positions bees as vital pollinators who conspire with nature ‘how to load and bless’ (‘To Autumn’, 3) flowers and fruit ‘with a sweet kernel’ (8), as well as creatures that participate in the ‘wailful choir’ (27) of the ode’s ‘soft-dying’ (25) music, implicitly capturing current anxieties around the decline in bee populations across the earth. While bee pollination is responsible for 70% of the earth’s food production, in recent years, bees have undergone a drastic population decline of 90% due to factors such as colony collapse disorder, pesticides, …read more
Jerusalem, NHB Modern Plays book cover (2009).
Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem does not hide its debts to British Romantic poetry. It takes its title from William Blake’s Milton: A Poem (by way of Hubert Parry), and attempts to update for modern England the fantasy of England that Blake conjures. The play opens with a prologue that recites Blake’s prologue, and ends, as if in a revelation of a divine truth, with the character Ginger acknowledging Blake’s authorship. The protagonist, a distinctly Byronic figure and local cock-of-the-walk, is, in a subtle stroke, called Johnny “Rooster” Byron. The play premiered in 2009 at Royal Court Theatre in London and has since been frequently staged across the UK, the US, and Canada, most recently, through June 2019, in Vancouver.
As a play about nostalgia for bygone times and national myths, and as a play committed to bringing plain speech, and even crass speech, into the realm of literary high art, Jerusalem is a thoroughly Romantic play: it is both romantic, if ugly and unsentimental, and Romantic, in its eagerness to confer the dignity of literary classics upon a gang of self-described “educationally subnormal outcasts” (p.53). Rooster, a forcibly retired daredevil encamped illegally for decades on …read more
From 27-31 July 2020 the Coleridge Conference will be held, for the first time, in the Lake District, in the heart of Newlands, the valley he loved for ‘the exceeding greenness & pastoral beauty of the Vale itself, with the savage wildness of the Mountains, their Coves, and long arm-shaped & elbow-shaped Ridges’
As usual, the conference will be both intense and relaxed, as the mostly plenary sessions overspill into garden parties, poetry readings and hikes along the river, up Causey Pike or to the nearby pub and tearooms. A ropes course, volleyball and archery will be available for the more athletic Coleridgeans. Paddling and stone-skimming in the beck is also possible.
This time, our keynote speaker is Mary Favret, author of War at a Distance and Romantic Correspondence.
Our venue, Newlands Activity Centre, is viewable here: https://www.activity-centre.com/facilities/grounds
The cost, for full residence, meals, fee and transport to and from Penrith railway station will be approx. £380-£520, depending on the level of accommodation you choose. Bursaries for part of this cost will be available to graduate students and to unwaged scholars on a competitive basis. If you wish to be considered for a bursary, say …read more
By Anna Mercer
To find out how to apply for a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, visit the main BARS site here.
Thanks to the Stephen Copley Research Award granted by BARS, I was able to spend a week of research in Weimar (Germany) to consult Friedrich Nietzsche’s Nachlass and work with manuscripts related to Nietzsche’s reading of Lord Byron, P.B. Shelley and Giacomo Leopardi. My doctoral thesis investigates notions of grief, death and posterity in the works of Byron, Shelley and Leopardi as a result of their readings of the Promethean myth from Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound. I avow that the Romantics’ fragmented poetic thoughts between hubris and nemesis anticipate the Nietzschean discourse of modernity as divided and contradictory.
My research residence began with a visit to the Nietzsche Archiv museum, dedicated to Nietzsche’s last days in Villa Silberblick before his death. From the very moment I entered the building, I remembered Nietzsche’s letter from 1884 where he bemoans: ‘Who knows how many generations must pass before people will come who can feel the whole depth of what I have done!’ In retrospect, Nietzsche’s letter seemed to me to echo Virgil’s line from the first book of Georgics, ‘scilicet et tempus veniet’, raising the …read more
Two hundred years ago this Friday, John Keats witnessed a remarkable event. Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton, London), tells us more…
On 13 September 2019, John Keats witnessed a remarkable political spectacle. Taking a short break from a prolonged residence in the provincial city of Winchester, Keats’s brief return to London coincided with the huge triumphal procession of the leading radical orator Henry Hunt. It was the botched arrest of Hunt at St Peter’s Fields in Manchester on 16 August that produced the Peterloo ‘massacre’, an event which sent shockwaves through the country and mobilised thousands of ordinary people to take to the streets in protest. Although he was on bail pending a trial that would lead to over two years in prison, Hunt returned to London like a conquering hero. In Keats’s words, writing to his brother George and his wife:
You will hear by the papers of the proceedings at Manchester and Hunt’s triumphal entry into London – It would take me a whole day and a quire of paper to give you any thing like detail – I will merely mention that it is calculated that 30,000 people were in the streets waiting for him – The whole distance …read more
By Anna Mercer
|Placed On:||30th August 2019|
|Closes:||1st October 2019|
This post will support the exciting Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers. This ambitious Digital Humanities project will use a uniquely rich, but largely unexplored, archive to explore a diverse – yet related – set of research questions on reading, letter-writing and language practices in Georgian England.
This post will explore the commonalities and differences in the operation and the relevance to reading, writing and everyday language of the social networks around Mary Hamilton, and how textual traces of reader circulation, reception and response contained in the Hamilton Papers help us to think differently about eighteenth-century literature.
You should have completed a PhD (or equivalent) in English Literature, or History, or Art History or other allied field focusing on the period 1740-1830, and have a strong grasp of recent debates in at least one of the following fields; gender studies, Bluestocking culture, social networks, digital humanities, public humanities.
You should have excellent analytical and writing skills, experience of working with a variety of archival sources in archives and libraries and strong palaeographic skills.
You should …read more
James Wood is a Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century English Literature at the University of East Anglia. He has degrees from Victoria University of Wellington and Stanford University, and worked as an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College, Dublin before joining UEA. He has published essays and articles on authors including William Shakespeare, John Dryden, Samuel Richardson, William Wordsworth, Daniel Defoe and William Molyneux, covering fields including sociability, embodiment, periodical culture and the representation of travel. His first book, Anecdotes of Enlightenment: Human Nature from Locke to Wordsworth, which we discuss below, was published in July 2019 by the University of Virginia Press.
1) How did you first become interested in anecdotes?
When I arrived at graduate school in the US, I didn’t know what I’d be doing as a dissertation project. But I’d been interested in the New Historicist anecdote from taking a seminar on literary theory back in New Zealand, where we read two chapters from Stephen Greenblatt’s and Catherine Gallagher’s Practicing New Historicism. I remember being impressed with the anecdote could do in an essay: how it could enable these counterintuitive leaps between an apparently irrelevant artefact from the past and a …read more
By Anna Mercer
British Romanticism and Europe, 5-8 July 2020, Monte Verità conference center, Ascona, Switzerland
Organisers: Patrick Vincent, David Duff, and Simon Swift
Keynote Speakers: Christoph Bode, Biancamaria Fontana, and Paul Hamilton
British Romanticism is part of European Romanticism and British writers drew inspiration from personal and cultural links with mainland Europe as well as the many forms of Continental travel. This international conference will explore the manifold relations between Britain and Europe during the Romantic period, taking advantage of recent work on transnational circulations and exchanges and a growing interest in comparative methodology. The conference will question stereotypes of Great Britain as insular by highlighting the island-nation’s European identity and its participation in a pan-European Romanticism shaped by transnational cultural dialogue and the cross-fertilization of art forms and disciplines. The aim is to uncover the channels and mechanisms by which Romantic ideas and influences were conveyed across national and disciplinary boundaries and to examine the role of individuals, communities and institutions in this complex transmission process. As well as directing attention to the often-overlooked international dimension of British Romanticism, the conference aims, by bringing together scholars working in Britain and on mainland Europe, to help develop the expanding research …read more