BARS Exchange

BARS Exchange

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

Call for Papers: Narratives of Ageing in the Nineteenth Century

By Anna Mercer

University of Lincoln, 23rd July 2019 – website here

Organisers: Dr Alice Crossley, Dr Amy Culley, and Dr Rebecca Styler

Plenary Speaker: Prof. Devoney Looser, Arizona State University

‘Ageing in Public: Women Authors in the Nineteenth Century’

This conference responds to the burgeoning critical interest of humanities scholars in age, ageing, and stages of life from childhood to old age in the nineteenth century.

The figure of the child and the imaginative investment in the idea of childhood are the focus of seminal studies of ageing in this period.

However, recent critical engagements have suggested the value of exploring ageing identities and cultural articulations of age across the life course, in dialogue with one another, and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

In light of this development, this conference seeks to address the experiences, conceptions, and representations of the ageing process in the literature and culture of the nineteenth century.

W.P. Frith’s ‘Many Happy Returns’ (1856) ‘Harrogate Museums and Arts, Harrogate Borough Council’

We welcome papers from all humanities disciplines (including, but not restricted to, English, History, Art History, and Religious Studies) and covering a diverse range of media, forms, and genres, such as fiction, poetry, drama, life writing, conduct literature, children’s literature, religious writing, periodicals, portraiture, photography, …read more


‘Some curious disquiet’: Polidori, the Byronic vampire, and its progeny, 6-7 April

By Anna Mercer

Open Graves, Open Minds presents:

Some curious disquiet’: Polidori, the Byronic vampire, and its progeny

A symposium for the bicentenary of The Vampyre

6-7 April 2019, Keats House, Hampstead

(part-sponsored by BARS)

Image via British Library

John Polidori published his tale The Vampyre in 1819. It is well known that his vampire emerged out of the same storytelling contest at the Villa Diodati in 1816 that gave birth to that other archetype of the Gothic heritage, Frankenstein’s monster. Present at this gathering were Polidori (who was Byron’s physician), Mary Godwin, Frankenstein‘s author; Claire Clairmont, Percy Shelley, and (crucially) Lord Byron.

Byron’s contribution to the contest was an inconclusive fragment about a mysterious man characterised by ‘a curious disquiet’. Polidori took this fragment and turned it into the tale of the vampire Lord Ruthven, preying on the vulnerable women of society. The Vampyrewas something of a sensation and spawned stage versions and imitations that were hugely popular.

Sir Christopher Frayling declares The Vampyreto be ‘the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre’. Polidori gave the creature the form that largely persists through subsequent vampire narratives, transforming it from the animalistic monster of the Slavic peasantry to something that can haunt …read more


London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Keats and France, international panel, Friday 15 March 2019, Senate Hosue, London


keats ad

The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will be held on Friday 15 March 2019 and feature an international panel on Keats and France. We are delighted to welcome as our guest speakers two distinguished scholars: Caroline Bertonèche, Professor of English Literature at Université Grenoble Alpes, who will talk on Keats’s Frenchness, and Emily Rohrbach, Lecturer in British Literature at the University of Manchester, whose paper is entitled Reading Keats with Rancière. Abstracts of their talks appear below.

The seminar will be held in the Bloomsbury Room (G35, ground floor) at Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30. The papers will be followed by a discussion and wine reception. Everyone is invited, including postgraduates and members of the public. Admission is free and no registration is needed.

caro2 cropCaroline Bertonèche is Professor of English Literature at Université Grenoble Alpes, President of SERA (Société d’Études du Romantisme Anglais) and a member of the Paris steering group of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar. She studied Romanticism at the University of Oxford and holds a doctoral degree from the Université Sorbonne …read more


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Birth of a Monster

By annamercer90


A piece I wrote last year summarising the timeline for the conception and composition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Sources: Letters of Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley, Mary Shelley’s Journal, and the text available here via Romantic Circles and the Shelley-Godwin Archive.

All images from Shelley’s Ghost.

I shall thus give a general answer to the question, so frequently asked me—”How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?”

– Mary Shelley, 1831 Introduction to Frankenstein

Switzerland, 1816: an eighteen-year-old girl has a nightmare, and the ‘grim terrors’ in her ‘waking dream’ deliver a flash of inspiration. The teenager is a would-be writer in search of a story, and this night terror coupled with her literary prowess will produce two of the most enduring figures in English literature: Victor Frankenstein and his monstrous creation.

The Villa Diodati (Bodleian Libraries)

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley, is spending the summer by the shores of Lake Geneva. She is accompanied by the poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley – the latter being her lover and eventual husband, who during 1816 is still married to another woman. Percy and Mary …read more


Stanzas – by Mary Shelley – set to music

By annamercer90

For a special Valentine’s Day performance at Keats House Museum in February 2019, my very talented Dad – Neil Mercer – set the words of Mary Shelley’s poem ‘Stanzas’ (‘Oh, come to me in dreams, my love!’) to music. Published in late 1838 in The Keepsake, the lines could be said to be emblematic of Mary Shelley’s work as a poet, as she uses verse to communicate her grief at the loss of Percy Bysshe Shelley and her loneliness as a widow (although I think Mary’s poetry does far more than that, too, and I hope to spend more time with her poetical compositions in my future research). The impassioned lines sound all the more moving when set to music.

Performed by Heidi Carascon and Neil Mercer.

Here is the video – enjoy.

Stanzas [“Oh, come to me in dreams, my love!”]

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Oh, come to me in dreams, my love!
I will not ask a dearer bliss;
Come with the starry beams, my love,
And press mine eyelids with thy kiss.
Twas thus, as ancient fables tell,
Love visited a Grecian maid,
Till she disturbed the sacred spell,
And woke to find her hopes betrayed.

London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: New Directions in Romantic Scholarship, international book launch, Friday 1 March 2019, Senate House, London


book launch advert

You are warmly invited to join us on Friday 1 March for the next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, which will be a book launch for The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism, edited by our London Director, David Duff. Published by Oxford University Press, the Handbook brings together 46 specially commissioned essays by leading Romantic scholars from around the world, a number of whom will be joining us for this occasion. The event will begin with brief talks by the editor and other contributors about the aims of the Handbook and the new research it contains. This will be followed by questions and discussion and an extended wine reception with nibbles and canapés.

The event will take place in Room 349 (third floor) at Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30pm. As with all our events, this event is free and open to everyone, including postgraduates and members of the public. If you would like to attend, please sign up for a free ticket on Eventbrite by clicking here. This will allow us to monitor numbers for catering purposes.

The publisher writes:

The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism offers a comprehensive guide to the …read more


Call for Papers: Radicalism and Reform in the Long Nineteenth Century

By Anna Mercer

The London Victorian Studies Colloquium is an annual residential colloquium for postgraduates and postdocs working in Victorian Studies, to be held at Royal Holloway Centre for Victorian Studies, from 26-27th April, 2019.

This is a relatively informal weekend of postgraduate papers, plenary talks, and training and professionalisation workshops, allowing generous space also for participants to socialise and study in the beautiful surroundings of the college. We hope to include a viewing of the Victorian art collection in the Royal Holloway picture gallery.

This year’s event will include:

  • Plenary talks from Dr Carol Jacobi (Curator of British Art, 1850-1915, Tate Britain) and Dr Helen Goodman (Bath Spa University)
  • Research Beyond the Article with Professor Redell Olsen (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Dr Joanna Taylor (University of Manchester)
  • Panel Discussion on Academic Careers and the Place of ECRs in the University
  • Training in Nineteenth-Century Collections and Designing Innovative Teaching

Participants do not have to present a paper but we will be looking for a small number of speakers to give short papers (20 minutes) on any topic. For details of the CFP, please see below.

The Centre for Victorian Studies is grateful to the techne consortium and Department of English at Royal Holloway, University of …read more