Shakespeare at Hay … Literature and sustainability


On 23 May, Jayne, Sid and I presented our recent work on Shakespeare and sustainability at the Telegraph Hay Festival. Thanks are due to INSPIRE/ASLE-UKI, whose 2013 essay competition on the theme of literature and sustainability this research won. The event, which was great fun, was chaired by Jane Davidson, Director of INSPIRE. Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair of ASLE-UKI, joined in the panel discussion. Here’s a link to the video. Thanks to IBERS and BBSRC for Excellence with Impact support. Longer version of video with panel discussion.

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‘The Next Time(line)’: Creating a Digital Timeline for Wordsworth’s ‘Prelude’

By Catherine Redford Back in February, I published a post reflecting on time in Wordsworth’s Prelude, a topic I’d been considering in my role as Research Assistant on a project called ‘The Next Time(line)’. The aim of this project was to create a new kind of literary timeline for the digital age, using the touch-screen device to offer an interesting, compelling, and ultimately more in-depth experience for the user than a traditional print counterpart could provide.

We considered three great works of literature – Wordsworth’s Prelude, Hugo’s Les Misérables, and Shakespeare’s Henry V – over the course of the project, but for our final prototype app concentrated on Wordsworth. The timeline we produced allows the user to trace the development of The Prelude from its earliest manuscript form through to its final rewriting, with the visualisation on the screen demonstrating how the poem grows and transforms over time.

The user is able to isolate a single episode from the text and see how it changes across versions; perhaps it moves position within the body of the work, contracts, expands, or splits as the text goes through a series of rewritings. Layered over this are a series of contextual timelines which offer an …read more


Eighteenth Century Evening at Oxford Brookes University

By jf

The Cheerful Companion’: Poetry, Music
& Performance in Eighteenth-Century
Poetic Miscellanies

Oxford Brookes University Headington Hill Hall, May 21, 2013, 19.00 h

If we were able to step inside the parlours and drawing rooms of the eighteenth century, we’d find homes busy with home-made culture – book groups and tea table parties; amateur dramatics; groups of women reading and weeping their way through popular sentimental fiction, and men at punch parties singing songs about dogs.
This interactive event (1,5 hours) will explore the varied world of eighteenth-century poetic miscellanies, popular collections of verse, prose and music that were the main way in which many ordinary people consumed literature in contemporary parlours and drawing rooms.

The evening will consists of a series of short talks, readings and music, followed by an interactive session, in which participants will be able to experience an authentic sewing session of a ‘huswif’ hosted by Nicole Pohl (Oxford Brookes) – no previous experience needed!

The evening will be a unique collaboration between the Brookes Poetry Centre, and the Digital Miscellanies Index Project at the University of Oxford, supported …read more


Romantic biodiversity …

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Happy Face Spider (Theridion grallator)

Yesterday evening I spoke at Aberystwyth University’s Bioblitz. Over 200 participants spent the day, and much of the night, dashing around collecting as many specimens as they could find. It was an inspiring sight. My co-presenter, John Warren, one of the day’s organizers along with Pippa Moore, capped his amazing talk by showing slides of the Happy Face Spider, native to Hawaii. I challenge anyone to gaze on this little surfer dude and not smile.

The theme of our talk was: “What have bugs ever done for us?”. My brief was to look at the cultural dimensions. I found myself thinking about how Romantic science did much to establish modern taxonomies of the natural world, and also about ways in which Romantic poets alerted us to the wonders of what we now term biodiversity.

The history of collecting and curating biodiversity is relatively recent. Early examples are to be found in Renaissance “Cabinets of Curiosity”. A foundational volume of work was Thomas Muffet’s Theatre of Insects (1634). Systematic categorization of biodiversity, however, really gathered momentum as a Romantic enthusiasm. The most famous naturalist of the eighteenth century …read more


Fahrenheit 451 … National Library of Wales

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View from my office

Fire engine sirens continue to wail outside my office window above the National Library of Wales. By now, millions around the world will have seen the appalling pictures of the library’s roof on fire.

Fortunately, the flames have been doused, and the smoke that just an hour ago issued in thick billows from the roof has been reduced to spectre-thin coils. Attention is turning to the recovery plan. I’ve added my name to the list of hundreds of volunteers who over the next couple of days will be forming chains to pass a portion of the library’s millions of books – now under threat from the huge volumes of water moving unpredictably around the building – out of harm’s way. First trial by fire, now by water.

The sight of smoke rising in thick palls – now white, now black – from the roof of the iconic building was shocking in a way that’s perhaps difficult to imagine. Shocking, I think, not just because my profession is books, but also because libraries – and especially national ones – are cultural repositories. To judge from the magnificent response of university and NLW staff, students and members …read more


Trinity Termcard

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By jf

Dear All,
Please find the Trinity Termcard attached

Barry Hough, Bournemouth University
(Week 1) 25 April: ‘Coleridge’s Government Communications: Ethics or Calculation?’

Tom Clucas, Christ Church, Oxford
(Week 2) 2 May: ‘“Thou only bliss / Of Paradise that has survived the fall”: Domesticity from Cowper to Wordsworth’

Prof. Heather Glen, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
(Week 3) 9 May: ‘Imagining Place: Wordsworth’s Poetry and James Clarke’s A Survey of the Lakes’

Ann-Clair Michoux, Lincoln College, Oxford
(Week 4) 16 May: ‘”Wild to buy all”: Jane Austen’s Wild English Girls and Regency Society’

Dino Felluga, Purdue University
(Week 5) 23 May: ‘Byron’s Don Juan and the Novel’

All Welcome to join us for drinks & dinner after the seminar!

Oxford Romanticism Conference, Somerville College
(Week 6) 30 May: registration to open soon!

Convenors: Judyta Frodyma (judyta.frodyma[at] and Olivia Reilly

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New at RC: Romantic Numbers

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By admin

Romantic Numbers

Romantic Circles is delighted to announce the publication of Romantic Numbers, edited by Maureen N. McLane, a new volume in our Praxis series.

With essays by Matthew F. Wickman, Marjorie Levinson, James Brooke-Smith, John Savarese, Bo Earle, Ron Broglio, and two afterwords by Maureen N. McLane, this volume explores older and newer logics of “matching” and “counting” and “measuring” (whether statistical, geometric, or otherwise un/calculable), and it registers an upsurge of interest in formal-language, neurocognitive, and medial-historical approaches.

The six essays of Romantic Numbers invite us to think “bodies,” “multitudes,” and “subjectivity” along different axes. They ask us to think about the (romantic) one, the (romantic) proper name, quantity, and quality; they invite us to reflect on the status of poetry and measure, about the work of the novel as totalization, about models of mind, about calculuses of populations and food. Ranging through Wordsworth, Scott, Malthus, Babbage, and Galt (among others), this volume points to new directions in romanticist thinking while reconstructing the complexity of romantic-period thought.

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Piping to the spirit … Romantic brass bands


Soldier playing salpinx (bronze trumpet)

There are, says Keats in Endymion, “those who lord it o’er their fellow-men”, and do so to the “fierce intoxicating tones/ Of trumpets … and belabour’d drums”. In each of his 25 poetic references to brass instruments, Keats has in mind military trumpets rather than civilian cornets, euphoniums and basses – and given that he preferred “ditties of no tones” (“Ode on a Grecian Urn”), we perhaps shouldn’t in any case pay too much heed to his sense of that instrument’s “fraught” joys (“Calidore”).

The group with one of the strongest claims to the title of world’s first brass band is the Stalybridge Old Band, formed in Manchester in 1809. Soon renamed the New Band, they rehearsed under the baton of Thomas Avison in a cellar behind the Golden Fleece inn. In 1819, its members became involved in one of the defining political actions of the Romantic period, engaged to play at the event that became known as the “Peterloo Massacre”.

“fierce intoxicating tones/ Of trumpets …” (John Keats)

Contemporary engraving of Peterloo Massacre

On 16th August 1819, in a huge assembly that marked the culmination of a season of marches across the …read more


CFP: ‘Romantic Victorians’, 18th July 2013, Durham University

By admin

romantic victorians poster

The Romantic Heirs Research Network is pleased to announce its second conference and networking event, to be held at Durham University on 18th July 2013 on the theme of ‘Romantic Victorians’. The conference is free to attend and will include: plenary talks by Mark Sandy (senior lecturer at Durham University, co-editor Romantic Echoes in the Victorian Era (2008) and author of Romanticism, Memory, and Mourning (forthcoming, 2013)) and Anna Barton (lecturer at the University of Sheffield and author of Tennyson’s Name: Identity and Responsibility in the Poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson (2008)), roundtable discussions centred on the conference theme, lunchtime refreshments, and a post-conference dinner.

The conference organisers encourage postgraduate students and early-career researchers to submit proposals of 200-250 words for short position papers (1500 words) to be discussed at roundtable sessions. Topics might include:

  • ‘Third-generation’ Romantic writers;
  • The boundary between Romantic and Victorian periods;
  • Responses to Romanticism in Victorian writers/poets/artists/musicians;
  • The historical/cultural/philosophical legacies of Romanticism in the nineteenth-century;
  • The developing notion of a ‘Romantic period’ throughout the nineteenth-century;
  • Critical legacies of Romanticism in the Victorian period.

The deadline for submitting proposals is 14th June 2013. Completed position papers should be submitted approximately one week before the conference so that they can be circulated among participants in advance. …read more