The British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) would like to invite applications for a Communications Assistant to assist with the BARS Blog and social media for a period of one year tenable from June 2021. We are looking for someone with previous experience of using blogs and social media for academic purposes. This position is paid an honorarium of £500 and is open to all postgraduate students and early career researchers working in Romantic Studies anywhere in the world. This role will require around 1-2 hours per week.
Responsibilities will include:
Leading and contributing to the BARS Blog series ‘On This Day’ and ‘Archive Spotlight’
Proposing and curating new blog posts/series
Delivering an active and strategic social media presence
Attending online meetings with members of the BARS Executive Committee
The successful applicant will work closely with the Communications Officer, Anna Mercer, and the Blog Editor, Emily Paterson-Morgan.
This post is an excellent career-development opportunity for a PhD student or early career researcher. You will have the chance to develop valuable skills in the field of scholarly communications and to contribute to the BARS postgraduate community. You will gain valuable skills (website management, content creation and digital communications) which will be useful in academic and non-academic roles alike. We expect that this role will be held alongside other academic or professional commitments such as completing a research project and/or teaching, and we encourage flexible working.
Postgraduate student or early career researcher
Interest in British Romanticism and Romanticism more broadly
Please join us on Wednesday 16th June from 6 – 8 pm to discuss new approaches to Romantic Studies and society, including an update on Dr Andrew McInnes’s ‘Romantic Ridiculous’ project, and close readings of texts including Charlotte Smith’s children’s literature, Charles and Mary Lamb’s poetic collaboration, Mary Wollstonecraft’s object lessons, James Woodhouse’s labouring-class eco-poetics, Catherine Gore’s silver fork satire, and a verse biography of S T Coleridge!
More details, including a booklet of our selected texts, and registration here.
Call for papers from postgraduate students and early-career researchers for a two-day seminar on William Cowper.
Cowper lived in and around Olney from 1768 to 1795, and it was here that he wrote Olney Hymns (1779) with John Newton, Poems (1782), The Task (1785), and translated Homer. The seminar will be centred on Cowper’s career in verse (hymns, poems, and translations), with a particular focus on the formal and stylistic elements of this writing. Among a range of potential subjects, papers may wish to address Cowper’s place in the satirical tradition, the potential for ecocritical and environmental approaches to poems such as ‘Yardley Oak’ and ‘The Cast-away’, or Cowper’s critical heritage from Wordsworth and Coleridge to Empson and Davie.
Proposals should be in the form of 150-word abstracts for fifteen- to twenty-minute papers. Papers will be delivered in a sedentary roundtable format, with fifteen minutes for questions and conversation. No fee will be charged to postgraduates and / or early career researchers who are selected to give a paper, and we will provide them with free accommodation and meals. Speakers include: Will Bowers (QMUL), Alexandra Harris (Birmingham), Andrew Hodgson (Birmingham), Gregory Leadbetter (Birmingham City), and Fiona Stafford (Oxford).
Email abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by 5th June 2021
1) How did you each first become acquainted with William Godwin?
Bea: I’m ashamed to say I didn’t meet him until I started my PhD. I came to Romanticism in reverse, via the nineteenth century, and when I started my thesis project on Romantic childhood and Romantic child-parent authorship, I came at him through his daughter Mary and through Romantic ideas about education, so the first work of his I actually read was The Enquirer. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but I was immediately struck by the sense of a mind always to some degree at war with itself. Godwin’s capacity for brutal self-interrogation and at the same time astonishing self-deception, particularly about family matters, is a large part of my fascination with his writing.
Helen: I read Caleb Williams as an undergraduate on a module about the French Revolution convened by Matthew Grenby (a contributor to the volume). But it was Essay on Sepulchres which piqued my interest in Godwin and I didn’t read that until I was doing my PhD – or maybe afterwards. Michael Rossington introduced me to Sepulchres and it’s a text I find endlessly fascinating, which is why I wanted to write about it for our edited collection. It’s short but brimming with imagery ranging from the evocative to the visceral – such as when describing a hypothetical dead friend Godwin (morbidly?) exclaims, ‘I would give all that I possess, to purchase the art of preserving the wholesome character and rosy hue of this form, that it might be my companion still.’
Eliza: Like Helen, I also studied Caleb Williams as an undergraduate but it took me a very long time to find my way in Godwin’s world. I read the Penguin edition edited by Maurice Hindle that reprinted the essay “Of History and Romance” as well as Godwin’s 1832 account of writing CalebWilliams, and I think those encounters with Godwin’s ideas in other texts were what really helped me to see what was happening in the novel. That still applies now – how one text unlocks or modifies the next is one of the joys of reading his work. And as Bea says, his interrogative quality is one of Godwin’s most compelling virtues.
2) Why do you consider this a particularly appropriate moment to reassess Godwin and his influence?
When we put out the original call for papers for the conference in 2017, there was a steady trickle of articles on Godwin but a relatively small number of book-length studies, the most of recent of which was Robert Maniquis’ and Victoria Meyers’ 2011 edited collection, Godwinian Moments(University of Toronto Press). We felt that interest in Godwin was greater than the published record might indicate, and we also knew there were some really great early career scholars working on Godwin – some of whom we’re absolutely delighted to feature in our collection. Since then, our suspicions have been confirmed by the appearance in 2019 of both the European Romantic Review special journal issue on Godwin and William Godwin: A Political Life(Pluto) by Richard Gough Thomas, joined this year by J. Louise McCray’s Godwin and the Book: Imagining Media, 1783-1836(Edinburgh University Press).
3) How did you go about securing contributors for the collection? Which areas were you particularly keen to address?
The collection arose out of a conference on Godwin we organised back in 2017. The three of us were at the time all based in the north east of England, and Godwin’s unique quasi-outsider position in relation to the Romantic and eighteenth-century canon as it is most often taught was something we collectively kept returning to. Eventually we decided to put our money where our mouths were, so to speak, and see what would happen if we put on an event that put Godwin front and centre rather than in his more customary position as supporter to the main Shelley-Byron circle. The response was a modestly sized but exceptionally energising conference, with wonderful papers given by Godwin scholars from the UK and abroad. Discussion continued out of the Newcastle University Percy Building, down to the pub, and well into evening, and we pretty swiftly concluded that a) Godwin Studies was in rude health and b) that we should invite our speakers to develop their presentations into chapter-length work. So in that sense, securing our contributors was straightforward. In order to draw out what we thought would be some productive dialogues between chapters, we also persuaded Matthew Grenby to contribute. Matthew had been a thoughtful and incisive audience member at the conference, triggering a stimulating discussion about Godwin’s children’s literature, and luckily for us he agreed to work up his research on some unattributed short stories. Given the collection’s focus on the future of Godwin Studies, Pamela Clemit and Avner Offer’s article on Godwin’s citations was the natural conclusion to the collection, and they graciously offered to arrange for it to be republished.
4) How did you choose how to order and arrange the essays?
The collection follows the same three-part structure as the conference: Forms, Fears, and Futures. We chose these themes not merely for alliterative purposes, but because we wanted the original conference to move beyond the well-trodden ground of CalebWilliams and PoliticalJustice. We thought that asking contributors to respond to the notion of ‘form’ was an interesting way of reflecting on the sheer range of genres he attempted, while ‘fears’ was chosen because Godwin is usually thought of as an author and thinker of great confidence and robust argument – we wanted contributors to consider less familiar, more anxious or doubting strands of Godwinian thought. Finally, ‘futures’ reflected not only Godwin’s future-oriented political theory and his own well-documented concern with his legacy, but ideas about Godwin’s afterlives and the future of Godwin Studies. For the edited collection, the ‘futures’ section in particular needed to be re-thought. The conference participants had addressed that theme on the day in stimulating ways which, on paper, didn’t quite allow for the main focus to be on Godwin’s work itself, so that needed to be developed differently. Again, our thanks goes to all the conference contributors for how their work on the day helped us to understand what shape the collection might take – and that thanks to them we had something to develop!
5) Which lines of approach from the collection are you particularly excited to see developed further? Are there aspects of Godwin and his work that you think remain underexplored that you’d like to see more research on?
An interesting outcome of the conference was that while we received proposals from across a wide range of Godwin’s oeuvre, Political Justice and to a lesser extent Caleb Williams were touchstones throughout. Evidently, there are works which, for some authors, are simply unavoidable, and for Godwin, that’s PoliticalJustice. A real strength of the collection is the way in which it shows how PoliticalJustice haunts Godwin’s thought even as he apparently turns to other concerns, either by illustrating, attempting to converse with, modify or disavow its ideas. On the other hand, we are really pleased that the collection foregrounds scholarship on lesser-known works, as with John-Erik Hansson’s chapter on Godwin’s biographies for children, and dynamic approaches, such as Ruby Tuke’s use of gift theory to explore Godwin’s views on charity. We are particularly excited about contributions which bring entirely new material before readers for the first time, as with Helen’s chapter and Matthew Grenby’s. We’d love to see more in this vein, and we think that Godwin’s later works – his novels Cloudsley and Deloraine, and Thoughts on Man, for example – remain understudied. There is plenty of work to be done, and many exciting new directions for Godwin scholars to explore!
Luisa Calè (Department of English, Theatre, and Creative Writing Birkbeck, University of London)
To mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, Luisa Calè asks: What artistic tools, visible languages, prophetic crafts did Blake employ to embody the souls of the damned, test the limits of opaqueness, and capture the translucent experience of paradise?
Emily Paterson-MorganComments Off on Anti-Racist Pedagogies for 18th and 19th- Century Studies: A Teach-in
Dr Kerry Sinanan & Prof. Kirsten T. Saxton In collaboration with the Department of English, UTSA, Mills College Center For Faculty Excellence, and the Early Caribbean Society Wednesday 26th May 2021 (CST Time)
This teach-in gives us the opportunity to engage scholarship on anti-racist pedagogy and to share our syllabi, texts, methods, and questions. We continue to teach under the duress of an ongoing global pandemic that has disproportionate effects on Black, Latina/x, Asian, Jewish, and Native American communities. Violence against racialized and structurally disadvantaged people deeply effects us and our students. We will consider the following:
Beyond mere inclusivity, how do we need to adapt our pedagogy and our syllabi to serve anti- racist and anti-colonial pedagogic goals?
How do we give the histories and literatures of slavery, race, and Indigenous cultures more than a nominal presence on our courses?
How can we show how racialized identities intersect with disability, gender, and class in our teaching?
How can we reorient often required white-authored syllabi to address the question of systemic whiteness?
How can we best prepare and support ourselves, and our students, as we navigate this demanding yet necessary terrain?
Anna MercerComments Off on Call for Applications: BARS ‘Gothic Women’ Events Fellow
THE YEAR OF GOTHIC WOMEN
The year 2023 marks the bicentenary of both Ann Radcliffe’s death and two major publications for Mary Shelley: the first edition of Valperga and the second edition of Frankenstein. The 200th anniversary of such significant moments for these two women writers is made all the more poignant because the year falls between important bicentenary dates for some of the most widely celebrated Romantic men: the death of Keats in 2021, P. B. Shelley in 2022, and Byron in 2024. The ‘Gothic Women’ project will organise a conference in 2023 to celebrate Radcliffe, Shelley, and other Gothic women writers.
In the build-up to such an event, and in these isolating times, the ‘Gothic Women’ project will present a curated online seminar series in 2021-22 to celebrate the work of ‘Gothic Women’ and to recognise exciting new strands of scholarship on such writers. We will be inviting established, early career, and postgraduate scholars to showcase the diversity of women’s Gothic writing through examining the different ways in which the Gothic thinks about questions of self-definition in a time of crisis. We envisage panels on such subjects as: the forthcoming complete edition of Radcliffe’s work with CUP, Frankenstein ‘then and now’, Valperga and the Gothic in historical fiction, Gothic and the Haitian Revolution, queer Gothic, transnational Gothic, and spotlights on the Gothic vision of authors such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Dacre, Mary Robinson and Regina Maria Roche.
The ‘Gothic Women’ team are pleased to invite applications for the position of ‘Gothic Women’ Events Fellow, for a period of one year, starting in June 2021. This fellowship opportunity is fully funded by the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS).
The Fellow will be a postgraduate student or early career researcher working in Romantic studies, ideally with a focus on one or more Gothic women writers of that period. The position will be paid £500 as an honorarium on the completion of 1 year of service.
The successful applicant will work with the ‘Gothic Women’ project team, assisting them on a number of administrative duties relating to running a new ‘Gothic Women’ online seminar series, starting in September 2021. The role will include running a basic wordpress site, contacting speakers, monitoring online (Zoom) events, managing Eventbrite booking pages, and running social media accounts. Experience in events or social media for academic/research purposes is desired. The Fellow will be expected to attend all online events and will also be invited to attend future ‘Gothic Women’ events (culminating in a conference in 2023). The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to project team meetings, for example by providing suggestions for speakers and topics. We expect the role to require c.1 hour per week, but as we are keen to support an early career colleague, the time we expect to be committed to the project will be flexible in relation to other professional or personal responsibilities.
To apply: please send an academic CV and a personal statement of 500 words explaining why you are best placed to undertake the duties explained above to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: 21 May 2021
Informal enquires can be directed to Anna Mercer at the same address.
1. How did you first become interested in William Godwin?
It was my brother’s fault. He was writing an MA thesis on Balzac and the English Gothic Novel (under Nicole Ward Jouve) at the University of York, and I was a second-year undergraduate at Oxford. One day he shoved a battered copy of the 1970 Oxford English Texts edition of Caleb Williams into my hands and told me to read it. I was gripped from the start—by the intensity of the power struggle between servant and master, the inexorable hunting down of Caleb, and the puzzle of the two endings. I still have that edition on my shelves. As a third-year undergraduate, I was taught by Marilyn Butler that Caleb Williams had to be read alongside Political Justice. As an M. Phil. student in Jonathan Wordsworth’s class on the 1790s, I encountered Political Justice again, and became fascinated by Godwin’s relentless, step-by-step dismantling of existing social and political norms. His style of writing drew me in. It was measured and logical, yet infused with biblical rhythms and a yearning for a transformed condition—qualities which, I learned much later, owed something to the dynamics of nonconformist conversion-narrative. I settled on the ‘Godwin school’ (a term coined by contemporary reviewers) as my doctoral subject, concentrating on the mode of psycho-philosophical-political fiction which Godwin pioneered in Caleb Williams and developed in his later novels—and which was taken up by his daughter Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein, among others. This gave me the chance to investigate the rest of his oeuvre and, for the first time, his unpublished papers. All this came in handy when, in 1989, I was pitched straight into editing five volumes in the Pickering Masters edition of his Collected Novels and Memoirs. It was a baptism of fire.
2. When beginning work on the edition, how did you go about finding surviving Godwin letters? What’s your favourite previously unpublished discovery from among the correspondence you have located?
When I started work, most of Godwin’s letters (about 1500 items) had not been published before. Finding his surviving manuscript letters was a research project in itself. Some repositories were already familiar to me. The Abinger papers, the residue of the Shelley family papers which were eventually deposited at the Bodleian Library, contained a great mass of Godwin’s correspondence, but not all of it. I knew of many holograph letters in other major collections, such as the Carl. H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and his Circle at the New York Public Library, the Huntington Library, and the National Library of Scotland. But were there other letters elsewhere, waiting to be found? I wrote to more than 400 librarians all over the world. Most of them replied, and some sent hidden treasures: high-quality reproductions of holograph Godwin letters previously unknown to the wider world. New letters still turn up from time to time—perhaps this interview will flush out more.
Many letters had not been previously catalogued, so the second stage in the finding project was dating and identification of addressees. The Abinger papers were held in boxes corresponding to the haphazard order in which James Scarlett, 8th Baron Abinger (1914-2002), had brought them to the library (allegedly in Sainsbury’s carrier bags). In order to locate Godwin’s letters, I had to sort through the entire collection. I made my own catalogue, listing incoming and outgoing correspondence, and, in many cases (since address leaves were rarely preserved), establishing dates and recipients. A group of thin, translucent leaves presented special challenges. The handwriting was Godwin’s, but it was often scarcely visible, or blurred, and had left no physical impression on the paper. Were they letters? How had they been created? The mystery was solved by the watermarks: ‘J WATT & Co PATENT COPYING’. The fragile leaves were copies, made on one of the world’s first successful letter copying machines, invented by James Watt. The copies were by definition accurate and a guarantor of the authenticity of the lost original—but in other respects they were an editorial nightmare. Some words had faded owing to the degradation of the copying ink over time. Other words were missing at the edge of the leaf, where the copying paper and the letter had not been correctly aligned. In a few cases, the entire document was blurred as a result of pressing wet documents. Nevertheless, it has been possible to recover full texts of nearly all these wet-transfer copies, and to identify the dates and correspondents of the vast majority. They provide the sole surviving texts for many important letters in Volumes I and II. As to my favourite discovery, that’s a very hard question to answer: every letter has a story to tell. The wet-transfer copies will always have a special place in my heart because of the labour that went into recovering them. Poring over a document written in invisible ink, piecing together the text word by word, gradually realizing that it was a passionate love letter and marriage proposal from Godwin to Maria Reveley, written less than two years after the death of his first wife Mary Wollstonecraft, was an unforgettable experience. Otherwise, I’ve always been drawn to letters which appear to be inconsequential. If I had to select one, it would be this one (published in Volume I), which belongs to a private collection:
Mr Holcroft having by an unforeseen circumstance been suddenly summoned from town, I am desired to write to you, to enquire as to a point which cannot specifically be collected from your letters which Mr Holcroft has left behind him. You say that a hamper intended for Mr Gerrald has never reached him: Is that, sir, the case or not with the box which was sent from London? Or, is the hamper, with its contents, the only thing left behind? If so, will you be so obliging as in your answer to mention these contents?
Your compliance with this request will be esteemed any kindness by, sir,
25 Chalton Street,
Somers Town, June
The address leaf tells us that the recipient was Russell Scott, then minister of the High Street Unitarian Chapel, Portsmouth. ‘Mr Gerrald’ was the political reformer Joseph Gerrald, who was tried for treason in Edinburgh in March 1794, sentenced to fourteen years’ transportation, and held at Newgate for nearly a year, where Godwin, Thomas Holcroft, and other radical sympathizers visited him. On 2 May 1795 Gerrald was moved, under guard and shackled, to Gosport, near Portsmouth, and placed aboard a convict ship to await transportation to New South Wales. The hamper and box contained books, money, and clothes collected by his friends, together with a farewell letter. None of these items reached Gerrald before the ship sailed on 25 May. The letter opens a window onto the experience of persecuted radicals, their friendship networks, and their solidarity under government oppression.
3. What is the edition’s ethos in terms of contextualizing and annotating each letter?
My task as editor is to present each letter as faithfully to the original utterance as possible. The aim is to provide a text which represents exactly what Godwin wrote and what his correspondent read. Ethical decisions have practical implications. The work begins with making accurate transcriptions, as far as possible, which includes deciphering faded or crossed-out words. Godwin’s handwriting is nearly always clear, regular, and well-formed. He usually wrote in black ink which has uniformly faded to a medium brown. His holograph sent letters are written with care and require minimal editorial intervention. In many cases, the holograph sent letter does not survive, and I have had to rely on copies in other hands, or heavily scored-through drafts. Establishing an authoritative text is only part of the task. Letters are written according to specific conventions and carry signals which are crafted uniquely for the recipient. The editorial challenge is how best to convey their original meaning to a twenty-first-century reader. It might be argued that an annotated text can never resemble what authors of the past intended or first readers encountered. But a raw Godwin letter cannot be read today in the same way that it was by the original recipient. My job as editor is to provide knowledge that the first reader would have taken for granted. For example, to grasp the significance of Godwin’s intervention in the 1794 Treason Trials (defendants included personal friends), the reader needs historical context. To understand his financial dealings, the reader needs to be informed about contemporary instruments of credit. To recognize the urgency of his journeys to, say, Bath (to court Harriet Lee), Norfolk (to visit his dying mother), or Edinburgh (seeking a publisher’s advance to keep him out of jail), the reader must know about the modes of transport and staging posts which shaped each route. Good annotation does not provide interpretation, but, in Melvyn New’s phrase, ‘position[s] the reader on the brink of interpretation’. In the case of a polymathic intellectual like Godwin, annotation has to be a multidisciplinary undertaking.
4. How has working on the edition expanded or modified your sense of the changing environments in which Godwin worked?
The conventional view of Godwin as a reclusive philosopher, conjuring up schemes for the betterment of humanity, is not much in evidence in the letters. My understanding of his changing spheres of activity—his career spanned three generations—has been transformed in so many ways that it is hard to know where to begin. Let me single out just three examples. His conversational world (as documented in his diary) did not collapse when metropolitan radical circles disintegrated in the late 1790s. Instead Godwin established new friendships, many of them lifelong. Personalities changed, but the habit of frequent social interaction was sustained. Godwin’s networks went far beyond London. In the summer of 1800 he toured the hotspots of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland and met leading figures in Irish nationalist politics. He remained plugged into an international network of Irish Patriot exiles and émigrés well into the 1820s—a discursive community which may have been as significant for his later writings as Rational Dissent was for Political Justice. Godwin’s income as a freelance writer declined after 1800 as people lost their appetite for radical moral and philosophical works. So he became a risk-taking entrepreneur. He managed rental properties owned by the Wollstonecraft family, and then, with his second wife Mary Jane Godwin, he set up an independent commercial undertaking: a children’s bookselling and publishing business which dominated his middle years (1805-1825). The bookshop was undercapitalized from the start. To keep it going, Godwin became an accomplished fundraiser, drawing support, at various times, from radical connections established in the 1790s and a large network of Whig grandees. His protégé Percy Bysshe Shelley, who inveigled him into negotiating cash loans on his own (Shelley’s) behalf, drew him into a darker world of moneylenders and crooked lawyers. The letters also reshape our view of Godwin’s domestic environment. In his middle years, he presided over a dysfunctional family made up of five children with no two parents in common, three of them born out of wedlock. Some family events are well known—the suicide of Fanny Imlay (whom Godwin adopted on the death of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft); the elopement and marriage of his daughter Mary to P. B. Shelley; the Shelley family’s voluntary exile to Italy (accompanied by Godwin’s stepdaughter Claire Clairmont); the drowning of P. B. Shelley in 1822; and Mary Shelley’s reluctant return to England a year later. But Godwin’s perspective has been missing until now. His intimate letters give a new understanding of family dynamics and transform our view of this turbulent phase of Romantic-period literary history.
5. What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m not working on any other academic projects at present. There are a few things in the pipeline, including an essay on scholarly editing for the CUP volume edited by Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner, and arising from their project History in the Humanities and Social Sciences. But with large editorial projects there comes a tipping point, when one has to hunker down and concentrate solely on the task in hand—whatever the exigencies of the Research Excellence Framework. Both Volume III (1806-1815), edited by M.O. Grenby, and Volume IV (1816-1828), edited by myself, are substantially larger than Volumes I and II. My current task is to bring them both to timely completion and publication.
Bursaries funded by the Wordsworth Conference Foundation have hitherto normally been intended to enable young scholars, principally at postgraduate and early post-doctoral level, to attend the annual Wordsworth Summer Conference and Wordsworth Winter School.
During the period in which live face-to-face events are not possible, the Trustees nonetheless wish to continue to advance the main aims of the Foundation by making available to young scholars who are working on the Wordsworth circle and/or Wordsworthian aspects of Romanticism a small fund which will either facilitate attendance at online conferences, pay for scholarly resources, or otherwise support their continuing research.
Applications are invited from full-time postgraduates, or from those who have completed a PhD within the last five years (i.e. January 2016-present), for up to 12 Bursaries of £250.
Please email a letter of application (clearly labelled BURSARY 2021) in the form of a Word attachment to email@example.com giving your reasons for applying and explaining clearly how the bursary funds will be used. Please also arrange for an independently emailed supporting letter to be sent from your supervisor or academic referee verifying your status.
Additional information will be found on the Wordsworth Conference Foundation website, click here for more information
The closing date for applications is 12 noon UK time on Monday 17 May 2021.