Call for Proposals: BARS Digital Events and BARS-Wordsworth Grasmere Digital Events

The British Association for Romantic Studies Digital Events Committee are glad to invite proposals for 2024.  We’ll be looking to run fewer events this year, but we’re keen to keep the series going.

As before, we invite proposals for curated roundtable sessions; these usually consist of four or five speakers, at least one of whom must be a doctoral student or early career scholar.  Events last for 90 minutes and will generally take place via Zoom at 5pm UK time on a weekday.  The usual format is a series of talks of between 7 and 12 minutes in length, then a discussion among the speakers, then a Q&A session.  Events are free and open to all; they will be recorded and shared on the BARS YouTube channel.

As part of our partnership with the Wordsworth Grasmere, we are also inviting proposals for our exciting new collaborative Digital Events programme. We plan to run three events each year with Wordsworth Grasmere, sharing our audiences. The link to the first of these can be found here, and can be booked here. These events aim to be more conversational than standard BARS Digital Events, addressing Wordsworth Grasmere’s public audience as well as academic listeners.

Indicative topics for both BARS Digital Events and BARS-Wordsworth Grasmere Digital Events include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Ecocritical and environmental studies
  • Romanticism and disability studies
  • Bicentenary celebrations and discussions
  • Romanticism and pedagogy
  • Romanticism and gender studies 
  • Digital Romanticism and online collections and resources 
  • Special editions and editing
  • Romanticism and race
  • Author studies
  • Romanticism in the 21st century
  • Romanticism and mobility
  • The relationship between academia, heritage sites, museums, and libraries. 

Wordsworth Grasmere is also particularly interested in running BARS-Wordsworth Grasmere Digital events on the following topics:

  • Romanticism and public engagement (ways in which effort is made to reach beyond existing audiences, both academic and more broadly).
  • Romanticism now (asking questions regarding why Romanticism matters to the modern age; how Romanticism offers us opportunities to consider and act upon issues of injustice, poverty, wellbeing, etc; and how Romanticism, poetry, and art can actively play roles in addressing international conflict, the climate crisis, racism, etc).

We recognise that this application process favours scholars applying as a team or group.  If you would like to participate but are unsure how to reach out to scholars working on a similar topic in our field, please get in touch with the BARS Digital Events Team via the email address below – we’d be happy to make suggestions.  If possible, please specify your area of research, include a brief biography, and explain the topic and scope of your proposed paper/roundtable idea.

The 2024 deadline for proposals is Wednesday 31st January 2024.

How to Apply

Please send your proposal to by Wednesday 31st January 2024. Please indicate whether you would prefer your proposed event to be a BARS Digital Event or a BARS-Wordsworth Grasmere Digital Event.

We expect proposers to be members of BARS – please find more information about the benefits of being a member and how to apply here.

A proposal should be around 500 words and should include the names and email addresses of all speakers (we recommend four to five).  Chairs can be nominated as part of the proposal or provided by the Committee.  If you would like BARS to provide a chair, please state this in your proposal.  Talks or contributions should be connected by a core subject for discussion and/or a central question for the panel to address.  If you have not attended any previous Digital Events, please familiarise yourself with the format and past topics by viewing previous recordings of events on our YouTube or by looking at the Digital Events category on the BARS Blog before submitting a proposal.

If you would like to propose an alternative format, or if you have other questions, please feel free to contact us by email.

Twitter: @BARS_DigiEvents

BARS-Wordsworth Grasmere Digital Event: Romanticism and Science: The Case of Sir Humphry Davy

Thu, 25 Jan 2024 19:30 – 21:00 GMT

Tickets available here.

Join Sharon Ruston, Frank James, and Sara Cole on Thursday 25 January 2024 for a fascinating roundtable on Romanticism and Science, focusing mainly on Humphry Davy.

This is the first of a new collaborative digital event series between Wordsworth Grasmere and BARS. If you are a BARS Member, you will have received an email with a code allowing free access to this event.

Sir Humphry Davy (1778-29) was the foremost British chemist of the nineteenth century, most famous for the miners’ safety lamp that he invented which became known as the ‘Davy lamp’, as well as isolating the chemical elements sodium and potassium. Davy also wrote poetry throughout his life and was a friend of many of the Romantic poets, including S. T. Coleridge and William Wordsworth. In this webinar, we will explore the findings of the Davy Notebooks Project ( Over the past few years, nearly 3500 volunteers from around the world have transcribed 83 of Davy’s notebooks. Prof Sharon Ruston will discuss some of the poetry that is found in Davy’s notebooks; Prof Frank James will explore ‘Humphry Davy in the West Indies: The Chemical ‘Explanation’ of Race’; and Sara Cole will look at women, science and satire in the period.

The findings of the Davy Notebooks project will be revealed in an exhibition at Wordsworth Grasmere from 16 January to 23 March 2024. The exhibition will showcase several original Davy manuscripts and focus on his lectures, geology, chemistry, links with the slave trade, his poetry and the Davy lamp.

This event is in collaboration with the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS).

About the speakers

Professor Sharon Ruston is Chair in Romanticism at the English Literature and Creative Writing department at Lancaster University. She has published The Science of Life and Death in Frankenstein (2021), Creating Romanticism (2013), Romanticism: An Introduction (2010), and Shelley and Vitality (2005). She co-edited The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy for Oxford University Press (2020) and currently leads the AHRC-funded project to transcribe all of the Davy’s notebooks.

Frank James is Professor of the History of Science, University College London. After working on Michael Faraday for twenty-five years, in 2012 he started investigating Humphry Davy serving as an Advisory Editor on the four-volume edition of Davy’s letters and as a Co-I on the Davy Notebook Project. He is currently writing a biographical study of Davy, focussing on his practical work.

Sara Cole is a postgraduate researcher in English Literature at Lancaster University. Her PhD research focuses on the relationship between science and satire in the Romantic period, particularly in the work of Anna Barbauld, Elizabeth Inchbald, Thomas Love Peacock and Lord Byron. Her academic interests include literature and science, the literary and visual satire of the Romantic period and the history of science, technology and medicine.

This webinar is hosted by Jeff Cowton, Principal Curator & Head of Learning at Wordsworth Grasmere.

How to book and attend

Please read our guide to booking and attending online events before you purchase a ticket.

Five free tickets are available for those experiencing financial hardship that would otherwise not be able to attend. This is on a first come first served basis with no questions asked about your situation. Please email Victoria at

Live captions will be provided by

CfP: The 32nd Annual British Women Writers Conference: Reproduction(s)

The organizers of the 2024 BWWC invite papers and panel proposals related to the theme of ‘Reproduction(s)’ in global, transatlantic, and British women’s writing from the long eighteenth century to the present. Beyond the more obvious correlation between this theme and the centrality of reproductive rights to women’s lives, a vital resonance exists between this topic and the commitment of the British Women Writers Association to recovering “women/womxn from the margins to the center of literary history.” The act of recovery (and all forms of reproduction, for that matter) contains the potential for re-emergence and mutation—for moments of slippage and opportunities for change. Participants are encouraged to be especially aware of the potential for disruption embedded within the concept/practice/enactment of reproduction(s). 

This year’s organizers have deliberately chosen the plural form of “reproduction” because the word is simultaneously a noun, a verb, and an adjective. Also, reproduction is both biological and technological, as seen in the reverberating effects the industrial revolution had on blurring the supposed boundaries between women’s labor, leisure, and traditional familial structures. The ways in which aesthetics and print culture reproduce these cultural tensions reveal the continual transformations and mutations of women’s roles in society. 

Intimately tied to these issues are forms of familial reproduction, ranging from eighteenth-century laws regarding inheritance to the suffrage movement of the twentieth century. While many women were embracing new roles, their self-enacted freedoms often outpaced their legal rights. This topic is especially relevant when considering that women of color who suffered because of the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism had even fewer legal rights than white women of the middle and upper classes. 

Of great interest are subversive methods of reproducing knowledge, for example, unsanctioned communication networks and the re-appropriation of cultural reproductions. It would be especially beneficial to have contributions that embrace alternative approaches to “reproducing” the traditional archive. In the spirit of reproduction(s), the organizers look forward to reading proposals that play with and challenge the limits of this theme

Please send abstracts (word limit of 300) to by January 14, 2024. 

Retrospect Opera: Recording of ‘Jack Sheppard’

Romanticists interested in the popular theatre of the 1820s and 30s will be happy to hear that Retrospect Opera has released a recording of the melodrama Jack Sheppard from 1839. Melodrama first arrived in Britain in 1802, and steadily grew in popularity through the later Romantic period. Jack Sheppard, with a text by John Baldwin Buckstone, adapted from William Harrison Ainsworth’s sensationally popular novel of the same name, and music by G. Herbert Rodwell, was one of the most successful examples of the genre. It contains some of the biggest musical hits of the early Victorian period.

No melodramas from this period survive complete, musically speaking, so we have filled the gaps in the Jack Sheppard score with music from Rodwell’s earlier melodrama, The Flying Dutchman, or The Phantom Ship (1826), another extremely popular melodrama that was played on both sides of the Atlantic for decades, and represents the most successful theatrical version of the story later treated by Richard Wagner.

We believe that nothing like this has been done before, and that the album represents a unique chance to experience the music from two seminal melodramas. Full of fun, excitement, sentiment, and great tunes, it would be a delightful stocking-filler! It should also teach well.

For more information, and to order a copy, see: Sales direct from Retrospect maximize our profit and will hopefully allow us to record more period melodramas in the future!

David Chandler
Retrospect Opera

CfP: Nordic Association for Romantic Studies 2024 International Symposium

Call for Papers: Romanticism Today 

Venue: Umeå University, in person 

Date: September 19-20, 2024 

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Ian Haywood (University of Roehampton) 

Romanticism today embodies an evolving discourse that transcends traditional  boundaries as a mosaic of diverse literary cultures and media landscapes. Over the  past years, the connotations of the “present” and its relevance within the domain of  Romanticism have encompassed pivotal strands ranging from reading methods and  book histories, artifacts and cultural heritage in the digital age, visual cultures then  and now, ecology and the Anthropocene, gender and identity, national and  translational borders. 

With the 20th anniversary of the Nordic Association for Romantic Studies (NARS) approaching in 2024, we welcome diverse approaches from current research in  Romanticism that expand the material, aesthetic, historical, and disciplinary confines  of this field. Our objective for this symposium is to provide a platform for considering  the current position of Romanticism as a vital area of humanist inquiry and mapping its future trajectory. 

We invite proposals for 10-minute paper presentations in English. Topics may include,  but are not limited to: 

• Visual culture and aesthetics 

• Digital humanities, archives, and resources 

• Reading methods and book histories 

• Traditional media and new media 

• Gender and identity 

• (Re)conceptualizations of canons 

• Anthropocene and ecologies 

Deadline for proposals: January 26, 2024 

Please send your abstract (250 words) with a short biographical note and full address  and institutional affiliation to: and Email inquiries are also welcome. 

Executive Committee: Silvia Riccardi, Peter Henning, Katarina Båth For information and updates:

CfP: Tolkien’s Romantic Resonances

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Saturday 6th July
(Free Hybrid Event) Hilton Leeds City

As early as The Book of Lost Tales (1910s-1930s) Tolkien’s prose and poetry was infused with elements of the stylistics, aesthetics, and philosophies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Romantics. Although it has been shown that Tolkien learnt about and read a range of Romantic works, his dialogue with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief” in ‘On Fairy-stories’ has dominated the intersections between Romantic and Tolkien studies. This has overshadowed the role that Romantic influences played in the shaping of Middle-earth, as well as the Romantic legacies in Victorian literature and art that had a significant impact on Tolkien’s writing. While Tolkien clearly rejected certain forms of Romanticism, he worked within a literary tradition that was partially shaped by the Romantics.

This seminar seeks fresh and innovative readings of Tolkien’s Romantic Resonances that are in dialogue with modern scholarship on Romanticisms, Romantic aesthetics and Romantic-period histories. The seminar understands ‘Romanticism’ and the ‘Romantic’ as complex, nuanced terms that elude simplification, traditional historical markers, and solely Anglocentric readings. We welcome proposals that address the broader application of the terms.

Papers may address but are in no way limited to the following topics:

  • Parallels between Tolkien’s narratives and artistic, musical, philosophical, European, transatlantic, Nordic, and global Romanticisms
  • Underexplored relationships between Tolkien’s works and British Romantic-period writing
  • Mediations and transformations of Romantic aesthetics and stylistics in Tolkien’s writings
  • Tolkien’s rejections of Romanticism and the Romantic
  • Links between the Romantics, Victorians, and Tolkien
  • Parallels between Tolkien’s works and Romantic philosophies
  • Romantic resonances in adaptations and receptions of Tolkien
  • Tolkien’s inheritance of Romantic medievalism, myth, and nation building
  • Tolkien’s negotiations with the Romantic Gothic and antiquarian traditions
  • Applications of Romantic irony
  • Romantic theories of nature and the imagination in Tolkien’s writings


Proposals should be no more than 300 words and biographies no more than 100 words. An additional box has been provided for proposed bibliographies if you wish to include one. The deadline for the call for papers is end of day Thursday 29th February 2024. Paper proposals should be submitted here.

More info:
The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship.The Society held three seminars in 2021 (Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien, Tolkien and Diversity, and Translating and Illustrating Tolkien) and their online setting has seen increased interest with over 700 attendees from 52 countries at ‘Tolkien and Diversity’. After the seminar, all paper recordings from the seminars are uploaded onto the Tolkien Society’s YouTube channel. We are delighted to run hybrid seminars where delegates can enjoy discussions on Tolkien in person and online.

BARS Open Fellowship 2024 awarded to Dr Patricia Matthew

In addition to our existing funding schemes, BARS has launched a new initiative in 2024: the Open Fellowship, which is available to scholars at any career stage undertaking exceptional work at the forefront of Romantic studies.

We are thrilled to announce that the recipient of the inaugural BARS Open Fellowship is Dr Patricia Matthew, based at Montclair State University. The Open Fellowship will support Patricia’s work on ‘Trust and the Archives: New Methodologies for Inclusion’, a multi-institutional project that reimagines what accessibility and trust mean for institutions reassessing their responsibilities to the multiple communities they serve.

Click here for more information on the BARS Open Fellowship scheme.

Gerard McKeever

BARS Bursary Officer

28 November 2023

BARS President’s Fellowship 2024 awarded to Dr Yasser Shams Khan 

In June 2020, the British Association for Romantic Studies announced its unequivocal support of the Black community, its condemnation of all forms of racism and its commitment to practical action. In response to the enduring and systemic damage caused by racism, the BARS Executive commenced a programme of initiatives focused on the histories and literatures of People of Colour. Among these initiatives is the BARS President’s Fellowship.

We are delighted to announce that the recipient of the BARS President’s Fellowship 2024 is Dr Yasser Shams Khan, who is based at Qatar University. Yasser’s project is titled, ‘Staging the Orient: A Study of Oriental Scenography on the Romantic Stage’.

Click here for more information on the BARS President’s Fellowship scheme.

Gerard McKeever

BARS Bursary Officer

28 November 2023

Stephen Copley Research Report: Alix Gallagher on Malta’s influence on Coleridge

My PhD examines respiratory embodiment in Romantic theatre, particularly that of S.T Coleridge. I was extremely grateful to use a BARS travel scholarship in October to visit the National Library of Malta theatre archive and Melitensia collection at the University of Malta, to study records from 1804-805 when Coleridge lived in La Vallette.

There has been limited work on the setting of Malta as influential to Coleridge’s dramaturgy, including brief mention in Donald Sultana’s authoritative book Coleridge on Malta (1969). Most attention has been paid to Coleridge’s political writing due to his job as administrator for the British protectorate in Malta. Hough and Davis (2010) have re-examined government records at Rabat and Greenwich, to form the perspective of Coleridge as an accountable civil servant.

During my visit, I questioned whether Coleridge’s stay on the island, where he sketched scenes and productions for the stage, was instrumental in Coleridge’s shift into a Romantic playwright and realised in a successful Drury Lane production after his return?

Given Coleridge travelled (only partly successfully) to improve his physical and mental health, and it was one of his most productive periods of journal writing, I aimed to explore the theatre and medical histories relating to Coleridge’s time on Malta with their overlapping contexts of imprisonment and respiratory metaphor. Were there physiological responses specific to the Malta setting, of quarantine or its different atmospheric climate for example, that inspired his new content on dramas and the spoken word? In addition to personal health, were there influential local productions that he encountered?

Limited, incomplete theatre records of 1804-1805 due to no freedom of the press are a challenge. Renowned local historian Paul Xuereb’s history of the Teatru Manoel, Valletta’s main performance space, notes the near absence of records 1804-1806 while William Zammit’s work on print culture in Malta discusses items destroyed or discarded in the transference of power between the Knights to the French, then the British. I am extremely grateful to Prof Marco Galea from the University of Malta for taking the time to meet with me, and to share his deep knowledge of Maltese theatre history including the Manoel Theatre on whose archives board he is a member.

Inside the Theatre Maoel, Valletta

The Manoel Theatre was attended by Coleridge and the Governor Alexander Ball and mentioned in Coleridge’s notebooks. It was therefore very important to study the late nineteenth-century handwritten manuscript of local musicologist and historian M.A Borg’s ‘Cronistoria’ in the National Library archive, the only document that combines theatre contracts, names of lead actors and soloists and some names of performances. The operatic libretti in the University of Malta’s ‘Melatensia’ archive from the period Coleridge lived in Valletta and San Anton, were also indicative of the performances Coleridge experienced, and wrote about, sometimes with disdain, in his notebook. I am grateful to Matthew Cuschieri at the University of Malta (Msida campus) for locating these and providing additional material on local folklore pertaining to vocal tradition and local ‘airs

In keeping with 19th Century slower modes of travel (and to save money), I had travelled by overnight train through Italy and used local ferries to reach the archives. This meant that my first view of the harbour and former quarantine island were from the water – as would have been the case for visitors and naval staff in 1804. It was a multi-sensory experience of the Maltese winds and Autumnal airflow which Coleridge met with theatrical observations. Coleridge’s new respiratory comments in his notebooks and letters, in response to Malta’s weather, its airs and temperature, are clearer to me now having experienced the climate’s comparative dryness. The Knights of the Order of St John used a softer Globigerina limestone to construct Valetta and the surrounding fortified cities that together form Il Kottonera (including Senglea where I stayed). There was a dryness and faint dustiness that felt unfamiliar to my lungs in the towns encircled by huge rock walls, looming cathedrals, and steep stone stairways. I recorded in my notebook feeling thirsty and dehydrated on land.

On the Ferry to the National Library archive

Travelling to Valletta meant I could walk to the site of Coleridge’s quarantine in Malta’s lazaretto on Manoel island. The hospital was recognised by John Howard’s An Account of the Principal Lazarettos in Europe (1789) for its vigorous enforcement of procedure. It is notable that, in the centuries since Coleridge was administrator of the hospital, the land has not been developed. I was excited that the hospital quarantine station ruins were still visible, and partly accessible, and struck by the soundscape of this remote isolation. I took recordings of the wind across the rocks and trees, to compare with Coleridge’s descriptions produced while impounded in quarantine on his return from Sicily. It was just in time. The land on Manoel island and its remaining lazaretto structure are about to be regenerated by construction company MIDI plc into offices, an underground car park and casino hotel complex. 

Ruins of Malta’s lazaretto on Manoel island

In conclusion, the research trip has brought my PhD’s project strands of respiratory health and affective theatre experience, into clearer focus. Malta is an excellent case study for Coleridge’s complex medical context that interweaves his illness self-identity with an evolving self-conceptualisation as a playwright. Without the support of this BARS travel scholarship, the visit and network to draw on in subsequent work with this material are unlikely to have happened.  

Alix Gallagher

Alix is a third year PhD candidate (part time, late career, early researcher) in the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow. Alix’s AHRC funded inter-disciplinary project puts early nineteenth-century literary and performative context in dialogue with the history of breathing science and performers’ personal medical histories.  Alix teaches in London and runs creative writing interventions with students in mainstream and hospital school systems.


Twitter: Galixg 

Postdoc Opportunity: “Drinking Cultures: The Cultural Reception of Medical Developments Related to Alcohol in Ireland, 1700-1900.”

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Closing date 8th December 5pm.

Applications are invited for two 36-month postdoctoral positions at University College Dublin working on the exciting interdisciplinary Wellcome Trust funded project “Drinking Cultures: The Cultural Reception of Medical Developments Related to Alcohol in Ireland, 1700-1900.” The “Drinking Cultures” project is the first long-view study to analyse the relationship between medical constructions of alcohol misuse and literary representations of alcohol consumption in Ireland from 1700-1900. Candidates should have evidence of research expertise in Medical Humanities or 18th-19th century Irish literature. 

Applications are particularly encouraged from those whose work involves studying topics such as: literary representations of alcohol or drug use; the medicalisation of habits and behaviours in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries; the cultural dissemination of medical concepts or frameworks in literary texts in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries; governmentality and the disciplinary apparatus in eighteenth or nineteenth century Irish culture. 

Informal inquiries should be directed towards Dr Lucy Cogan (

About the Role:

Applications are invited for two Temporary posts of Post-doctoral Research Fellow Level 1 within UCD School of English, Drama & Film. The successful candidates will work on the Wellcome Trust funded project “Drinking Cultures: The Cultural Reception of Medical Developments Related to Alcohol in Ireland, 1700-1900” under the direction of Dr Lucy Cogan. The “Drinking Cultures” project is the first long-view study to analyse the relationship between medical constructions of alcohol misuse and literary representations of alcohol consumption in Ireland from 1700-1900. The project’s multi-directional approach considers how the medicalisation of drunkenness 1) shaped depictions of the behaviour in Irish literature, 2) how these literary depictions impacted the wider culture, and 3) how culturally-embedded constructions of “problem” drinking among the Irish then influenced medical understandings via the deep-rooted association between Irishness and drunkenness, which still affects health policy today.

This is an academic research role, where you will conduct a specified programme of research supported by
research training and development under the supervision and direction of a Principal Investigator.
The primary purpose of the role is to further develop your research skills and competences, including the
processes of publication in peer-reviewed academic publications, the development of funding proposals, the
mentorship of graduate students along with the opportunity to develop your skills in research led teaching.

Information regarding how to apply can be found here: