Dear Blake: Letters are the Gateway to Digital Editing

By ericloy

At the Blake Archive, graduate students–and now, undergrads, too–participate deeply in the day-to-day happenings of transcription, encoding, and editing that are typical of digital projects. This fall, the Blake Archive North Division (BAND) welcomed a rather large influx of interested students to the University of Rochester. It presented positive problem for the [distinguished, good looking, still very young, etc.] senior members of the team: what do we do with these newbies?

I was one of the greenhorns in question. Coming from Creighton University and an assistantship with The Complete Letters of Henry James project, I had some foundational experience in editing, but I was still new to the pragmatics of the digital scene. With a general strategy towards quickly training new researchers like myself, recently acquired Blake letters were distributed among the new team members. The idea was that a letter–as a short, self-contained, historical object–could provide a microcosm to the editorial process, both specific to the Blake Archive and in general to digital editing.

In many respects, the strategy has been a success. After a few months, each new member is now nearing completion of their own letter. And because of the …read more


New Issue of RaVoN – Coleridge and his Circle: New Perspectives

By admin

A new issue of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net (No. 61) has just been published, guest-edited by Tim Fulford and focusing on Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The issue includes the following essays:

Anya Taylor – Catherine the Great: Coleridge, Byron, and Erotic Politics on the Eastern Front

Alan Bewell – Coleridge and Communication

Julia S. Carlson – Measuring Distance, Pointing Address: The Textual Geography of the ‘Poem to Coleridge’ and ‘To W. Wordsworth’

Alan Vardy – Coleridge on Broad Stand

Tim Fulford – Coleridge’s Visions of 1816: the Political Unconscious and the Poetic Fragment

Matthew Sangster – “You have not advertised out of it”: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Francis Jeffrey on Authorship, Networks and Personalities

Tom Duggett – Southey’s “New System”: the monitorial controversy and the making of the “entire man of letters”

Nicholas Halmi – Coleridge’s Ecumenical Spinoza

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Cancellation Notice, Week 6 (21 November)

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By Honor Rieley We’re sorry to announce that this week’s talk by Paul Whickman has had to be cancelled due to illness.

We hope we’ll be able to reschedule this paper for a later date, so really it’s a postponement not a cancellation!

Have a great 6th week, and we hope to see you all next Thursday for Murdo Macdonald’s paper on Ossian and Turner.

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Five Questions: Jane Darcy on Melancholy and Literary Biography

By admin

Jane Darcy - Melancholy and Literary Biography

Dr Jane Darcy is currently a teaching fellow in the Department of English at University College London, where she was previously a British Academy postdoctoral fellow. Prior to that, she completed her doctorate at King’s College London. Below, we discuss her first monograph, Melancholy and Literary Biography, 1640-1816, which developed in unexpected directions from her thesis and which was published by Palgrave earlier this year.

1) You write in your introduction that your initial interest was in aesthetic representations of melancholy. How did your project evolve towards focusing specifically on biographies?

Like most people, I imagine, I’m drawn to what is minor key and elegiac in art and literature. And I’m always fascinated by details of the lives of writers, so many of whom seem to have suffered profoundly. In my thesis I looked at a range of writers from Dr Johnson to Thomas Carlyle and tried to trace evolving medical ideas of melancholy (or hypochondria, as it was often termed) by looking at what their first biographers made of the condition.

2) The book’s two sections focus on periods of distinctly different lengths, the first examining …read more


Choice Tags: A Search Function’s Best Friend

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By hardeepssidhu

is the xml element we use to encode alternative spelling in our transcriptions of Blake’s writings. It’s what makes the Blake Archive’s search function forgiving. Say someone searches for all instances of the word “Tiger” in the Blake Archive. A choice tag is what would lead them to instances of the word “Tyger.”

But the more common search tags are the really mundane ones:

  • abbreviations (“William” for “Willm”, “January” for “Jany”)
  • non-standardized spellings (Blake has a habit of writing “recieved” and not “received”)
  • words that are divided by line breaks (the word “accompa / nied” is written over two lines in one letter)

In the letter of 7 June 1825, Blake mentions the “D of C”, which we know to be an abbreviation for the “Dean of Canterbury.” Without a choice tag, users searching “Canterbury” would never be directed to that letter.

Editorial Questions

Week 5 – ‘Writing the Border: Walter Scott and the Travel Narrative’

By Honor Rieley

Céline Sabiron, University of Oxford

This week our speaker will be Dr Céline Sabiron, who is a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford. She’ll be presenting research from her forthcoming book (to be published by Provence University Press) focusing on Walter Scott’s border narratives. These historico-geographical novels are structured around Scotland’s vertebral column – ending in the south with the national border and composed in the north of the internal border marked by the Highland Boundary Fault, a sensitive area separating Lowlands and Highlands – serving as a narrative pivot around which the plots hinge. This monograph seeks to question the sense, understood as both meaning and direction, of cross-border travel in Scott’s Scottish novels. Three types of travel – physical, symbolic, and eventually literary – will be analysed in turn to provide a complete reassessment of the relationship between Scott’s novels and the travel literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the influence of Scott’s work on the English and French literature from the second half of the 19th century.

All welcome!

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Romantic Connections deadline

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By admin

The deadline for next year’s Romantic Connections conference in Tokyo, which BARS is supporting, is coming up at the end of the month. More information from the organisers below, including the exciting lineup of plenary speakers:

“Romantic Connections” (University of Tokyo, June 13-15, 2014).

NASSR supernumerary conference, supported by BARS, GER, JAER, RSAA.

Deadline for submissions: November 30th, 2013

Plenary speakers:

Christoph Bode (LMU Munich)
James Chandler (University of Chicago)

Angela Esterhammer (University of Toronto)

Peter Kitson (University of East Anglia)

Jonathan Lamb (Vanderbilt University)

Kiyoshi Nishiyama (Waseda University)

Over the last two decades, there has been sustained scholarly interest in the connections between European Romanticism and the peoples, and literatures of the rest of the world. In addition to discussing representations of the “East” by Romantic authors, there has been a growing trend towards viewing Romanticism itself in a global context, as a movement shaped by wider eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century forces of trade, migration, material circulation, intellectual exchange, slavery, and colonialism.

While our approach will be informed by the legacy of Saidian “Orientalism,” we are particularly interested in models of intercultural connection which refine or challenge totalizing models of domination and subordination. We welcome papers that shed light upon the question of Romantic “connection” from the broadest range of …read more


Five Questions: Daniel Cook on Chatterton

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By admin

Daniel Cook - Thomas Chatterton and Neglected Genius

Dr Daniel Cook is currently Lecturer in English at the University of Dundee and has previously worked at the University of Bristol and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His first monograph, Thomas Chatterton and Neglected Genius, 1760-1830, was recently published by Palgrave. He kindly answered the following five questions on his work on the Marvellous Boy.

1) How did you first get interested in Chatterton and his afterlives?

Well, I’ve been reading Chatterton’s poems since I was a teenager, before university. Nick Groom — still my favourite Romanticist — published and edited some of the key modern Chatterton criticism in the late 90s, which I read at school and then as an undergraduate in the noughties. Keats was always my poet, though, and so when I began to see some verbal echoes of Chatterton’s works (particularly Aella and the Saxon epics) in Keats’ own, it seemed like something I wanted to know more about. I wrote an undergraduate dissertation on Keats and Chatterton, and, I think, another for my taught postgraduate. When I started my PhD it seemed sensible to take it further still, and I certainly remember mentioning Coleridge …read more


Five Questions: Introduction

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By admin

The best moments at conferences are often opportunities to talk about projects and their implications in more convivial settings (traditionally, the pub). In an attempt to bring something of this kind of discussion to the BARS blog, I’m going to be initiating a series of five-question email interviews with Romanticists and groups of Romanticists who’ve either just completed large projects or who are in the process of developing them. Hopefully, these interviews will allow scholars to discuss their work in a less formal manner than in books, articles or publishers’ blurbs and will help to publicise some exciting new work in the field.

If you’d be interested in taking part in this series, or would like to suggest people from whom you’d like to hear, please email me on

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*Blackwell’s Wordsworth Event [See Below] Rescheduled*

By Katherine Fender

Dear all Romanticists,

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we’re very sorry to report that the William and Dorothy Wordsworth event to be held tonight with one of Oxford’s very own Romanticists, Professor Lucy Newlyn [see below], has had to be rescheduled for February. The specific date / time of the rescheduled event will be confirmed in due course.

In the meantime – if you’re a keen reviewer as well as a keen Romanticist, we’d warmly encourage you to submit a comment on Professor Newlyn’s “All in Each Other” at the Amazon web page, which can be found here:

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