Call for Essays: Slavery, Abolitionism and Poetic Form

One of the first decisions made by the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade when it was established in 1787 was to commission new works of poetry from three writers: William Cowper, Hannah More, and William Roscoe. Abolitionist poetry was already a fledgling genre, but the success of those ‘official’ poems led to an explosion in antislavery verse across the latter years of the eighteenth century and well past the Slave Trade act of 1807. Poetry played a major role both in communicating and formulating abolitionist ideas and arguments, but the sheer popularity of abolitionist verse also made it potentially lucrative. What began as a critique of commercial culture rapidly led to the commodification of antislavery forms.

                What followed for poetry was formal experimentation and innovation. Poets with genuine political and ethical agendas sought ever new ways to outpace the commodification of abolitionist forms. The hegemony of the heroic couplet, which had lasted some 150 years, gave way to the flourishing of formal types we associate with Romanticism: sonnets, songs, ballads, blank verse, odes, eclogues, hymns. The shift from a monolithic culture of epic in the eighteenth century to discrete, varied, and fragmentary lyric forms was accelerated by the politicization of poetry in the 1780s and 90s — a politicization that stemmed from history’s first major humanitarian movement, the movement to abolish slavery.

                Essays are being sought that concern British abolitionist poetry and poetic form in the period 1770–1830. Especially desirable are essays that address one or more of the following: individual forms or genres and their roles within antislavery verse cultures (lyric, sonnet, epic, ballad, hymn, eclogue, ‘complaint’); the role of formal features (including meter, rhythm, rhyme, line) in the workings of antislavery poetry; antislavery poetry’s role in shaping the history of poetic form or forms; considerations of the relation of Romantic verse practices to discourses of slavery and abolition; considerations of form’s role in the poetry of the Black Atlantic, particularly where it has bearings on British poetry; theoretical discussions of form/formalism in relation to slavery.

                The volume has been pitched to Liverpool University Press, and a full proposal will be submitted for their series ‘Romantic Reconfigurations’. Essays will ideally be between 5,000-9,000 words; if accepted, they will be due in early 2025. Please send abstracts of around 300 words, plus a short bio, to: Please feel free to get in touch with any questions or suggestions.

Call for Papers: Depicting the Eighteenth Century in Media Entertainment

From BBC dramas and Netflix series to luxurious cinematic blockbusters and Bollywood period films, public audiences continue to engage with fascinating eighteenth-century figures, both real and fictional. Such depictions are often the first encounter many will have with the eighteenth century. While some eighteenth-century enthusiasts’ recoil at historical inaccuracies, many see this as an opportunity to engage public audiences, supplying an entrance into discussions of the eighteenth century. Indeed, media entertainment in itself can be a vehicle to both explore and imagine gaps surviving historical documentation cannot fill. As discussed by Richard V. Francaviglia (2007: viii), who focused his study on historical film, ‘… film’s power to emotionalize by engaging the viewer offers the potential to tell stories–that is, interpret the historical record–in new and exciting ways like no other medium.’ The same can be said of television dramas, musicals, novels, plays, trade books and a myriad of other media entertainment that permits the interpreter the opportunity to go beyond evidence and into the realm of imagination.

What new ideas and discoveries emerge from such interpretations? Is there a best practice standard for researchers and media entertainment professionals working together? If not, what steps can be taken to establish such practices? How are twenty-first century concerns reflected and discussed against these eighteenth-century backdrops? How has such media entertainment influenced pedagogy on the eighteenth century? How has research into the more intangible elements, such as emotions, relationships, and life behind closed doors shaped our understanding of the eighteenth century? How far is an interpreter permitted to go before their interpretation is too fantastical?

These are the key questions we would like to explore through this proposed special issue. We would like to bring together researchers from different disciplines to consider the impact media entertainment has had on their research and pedagogy. This is a rich area that covers multiple disciplines including art history, environmental studies, theatre, literature, history, music, and slavery to name a few.

We invite short abstracts of c.250 words for proposed articles for a Special Issue on Depicting the Eighteenth Century in Media Entertainment. We particularly welcome abstracts which engage with non-Western media productions and outputs. Thereafter, we will hold a 1-day symposium that will allow us to share our ideas together and identify key strands for discussion, thus allowing opportunities for cross-referencing. We intend to submit the Special Issue to the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies for consideration.

The deadline for abstracts is 30th April 2024. Please email all abstracts and queries to Rachel Bynoth at

Five Questions: James Armstrong on Romantic Actors, Romantic Dramas

James Armstrong is an adjunct assistant professor at City College of the City University of New York. He has published extensively on drama in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, contributing articles to journals including European Stages, Theatre Notebook, Shaw, The Keats-Shelley Journal and Dickens Quarterly. He is a practicing playwright and a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. His first monograph, Romantic Actors, Romantic Dramas: British Tragedy on the Regency Stage, which we discuss below, was published by Palgrave in 2022.

1) How did you first become interested in Romantic-period theatre?

I was familiar with the story of Shelley’s The Cenci through Antonin Artaud’s adaptation of the play, which he staged in 1935, shocking Parisian audiences. I initially wasn’t very interested in Shelley’s version, though, since I had heard it described as a closet drama. One day, I was browsing the stacks at the New York Public Library, and I saw Shelley’s work up there on the shelf, and I decided to give it a try. As I read the play, it didn’t feel like a closet drama at all. It’s filled with action, and seems imminently playable. I got to the end, and then read Mary Shelley’s note on The Cenci, in which she stated that her husband had wanted the play to be acted, and that he had seen an actress named Miss O’Neil, and she was often in his thoughts as he was writing. Immediately, I wanted to know who this O’Neil was, and why I’d never heard of her.

After some digging, I discovered that Mary Shelley had misspelled the last name of Eliza O’Neill, a performer who had dominated the London stage for a while, but was later largely forgotten. I wanted to recover the work of this person who had inspired such an amazing play, and as I did, I found these other connections between Romantic-period actors and writers. Joanna Baillie’s De Monfort has Sarah Siddons written all over it, and Lord Byron’s Manfred clearly shows the influence of Edmund Kean, even if he never acted in it. When I looked into Remorse by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, I discovered that early reviewers had credited its success to an actress named Julia Glover, who again, I’d never heard of before, as she’s almost entirely unknown today.

It seemed unfair to me that Coleridge and Shelley are household names, while Glover and O’Neill are forgotten. Moreover, as a playwright myself, I was baffled by critics who seemed to think these writers had created their works for a reading public and not for the stage. Actors are central to the work of most dramatists today, who frequently tailor their words for individual performers. Why did some people act like the Romantic era was so different? If anything, the Regency period was even more star-mad than our own day.

2) Your introduction describes your book as aiming to place key dramas of the Regency era ‘squarely within the context of the era’s system of star performers’. What are the most important insights we gain by restoring this context?

First of all, understanding the context of an original production can prevent you from making certain mistakes. There have been some pretty bizarre interpretations of De Monfort, for instance, that don’t make any sense if you understand the particular aura Siddons had, and the roles she tended to play. Similarly, a lot of Romanticists will privilege Coleridge’s Osorio, an early version of Remorse, perhaps because it is nearer to the author’s original inspiration for the piece. This ignores how many of the rewrites Coleridge did on the play make it a much more streamlined and stage-worthy script. Staging the work had always been Coleridge’s intention, and all those rewrites helped him do what he’d wanted all along, which was to put the play on for an audience.

With Byron, things get a bit more complicated, since he said he didn’t want his plays performed, even though he made other statements that seem to contradict this. His relationship with Kean, the biggest superstar of his day, influenced not just Manfred, but other works by Byron, and even Byron’s posturing in his own life. The more you learn about Kean, the more you understand so much of what Byron did and wrote, whether in dramatic form or not. Just as Kean influenced Byron’s writing, O’Neill influenced Shelley’s. By writing The Cenci specifically for O’Neill, Shelley made discoveries that continued over into his later poetry. I don’t think he could have written some of his more mature work without having first challenged himself by writing for a particular star actor.

3) Which qualities of spoken verse tragedy led you to place this form at the centre of your study?

I love some of the melodramas of the period, and there’s a reason why audiences back then flocked to see them, but so much about these early melodramas rings hollow today. First of all, the dialogue just sounds ridiculous, in spite of being in prose. The verse dramas of the period are written in a different form from what we speak every day, but this actually helps them, since the blank verse distances the dialogue from quotidian reality. As with the work of Bertolt Brecht, we encounter thoughts and actions that are de-familiarized, allowing us to see them anew. The moral world of melodrama also seeks a black-and-white view of everything, which can be attractive, but isn’t very honest in its over-simplicity. What’s best about these verse tragedies, though, are the characters. The heroes and villains of melodrama are interchangeable, whereas some of the characters in the tragedies of the period are unforgettable.

4) Many of your chapters pair particular actors and writers: Sarah Siddons with Joanna Baillie; Julia Glover with Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Edmund Kean with Lord Byron; and Eliza O’Neill with Percy Bysshe Shelley.  How did you come to settle on this structure?

It took a while! I knew I wanted to pair O’Neill and Shelley, and Siddons and Baillie were a natural fit. I went to Alan Vardy for advice on Coleridge, and he put me on the right track to eventually identifying Glover as a driving force behind Coleridge’s success with Remorse in 1813. The big question was what to do with Kean, who looms so large over Romantic drama. For a while, I wanted to explore Kean’s influence on Otho the Great, the rejected tragedy that John Keats penned in collaboration with Charles Brown. Keats was a great fan of Kean, but I think the actor ultimately had a greater impact on Byron. Once I had those four pairings, the rest of the book fell into place.

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

I’m particularly interested in the toy theatres that were marketed to the public during the Regency era. The book includes an illustration of a sheet of characters from Remorse that was published by J.H. Jameson, a woman who supplied prints that could be cut out and assembled into toy theatres. These toy theatres provide some of the best visual evidence of what the Romantic stage actually looked like, and the more you examine them, the more you can see how hot-button issues of the era, including slavery, racism, and the ever-expanding Empire, got played out on stage. My next book will probably deal with toy theatres, and what they can tell us about the preoccupations of Romantic dramatists and their audiences. Many of the prints used to construct these toy theatres have thankfully survived and can be examined in various archives, including at the New York Public Library, where I first fell in love with Romantic drama!

A Rehearsed Reading of Joanna Baillie’s The Tryal

By Chris Bundock

In October 2024, I’m planning to host a rehearsed reading of Joanna Baillie’s The Tryal at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds. At this time, I am inviting anyone interested in contributing to this event to come forward.

By “contributing to the event”, I mean anything from discussing the play and Romantic theatre more broadly to attending the event as an audience member to auditioning to read a part. Depending on the level of interest, my thought is to hold 2-3 Zoom meetings with members of the working group in the lead-up to October. The aim of these meetings would be to help shape the event into something interesting and attractive and useful for both scholars and members of the general public. (While anyone, globally, is welcome to join the group, it is not clear whether the event itself will be hybrid; it would be great to record it—even if merely the audio—but this is something yet to be sorted.)

I have British Academy funding to hire the venue for two nights: 23 and 24 October have been agreed with the Theatre Royal. (NB: tickets to attend would be free for all). I am also able to hire a professional director (I have approached an excellent, experienced individual and have a verbal agreement with him). However, I don’t have funding beyond this. As a result, participation in the working group and/or in the event itself would have to be undertaken voluntarily.

The Tryal (1798), from the first volume of Baillie’s larger Series of Plays on the Passions, is a comedy focused on the passion of love in which two young women, Agnes and Mariane, trade places. Portionless Mariane acts the part of her wealthy cousin and gleefully torments suitors interested in Agnes only for her wealth. In turn, Agnes pretends to relative poverty. She also deliberately behaves obnoxiously in hopes of ascertaining the authenticity of one Mr Harwood’s attentions. The self-awareness of the play has been noted by critics such as Catherine Burroughs: at one level, this is a play about amateur theatre performed in domestic spaces. But it is also a play about scientific experimentation: the women submit several men to various tests or indeed “tryals” in the medical-scientific sense in order to separate pure from adulterated love. My own interest in the play stems from this latter aspect. It is one text I explore in my current book project Sense and Morbid Sensibility: Pathologies of Sympathy in Romanticism and the Long 18th Century. Holding a rehearsed reading offers a valuable way to think through this play while also sharing Romantic theatre with a wider public.

If you are interested in being involved in the working group, please email me at before 1 March 2024. Feel free to share this invitation with postgraduate students, non-academics, or any others whom you think may be interested.

Ralph Hoyte on Christabel Released

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In Greek tragedy, ‘hubris’ is defined as “excessive pride towards or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis(Oxford Languages). I have had much the same sort of feeling since I decided – well, ‘decided’ sounds too, er, decisive (?), when what really happened was that my resistance to ‘taking on Coleridge’ was gradually chipped away, seemingly by some hand other than my own, until that fateful day during a residency with the Quantocks AONB more than 10 years ago on which it became evident to me that I was ‘going to finish Christabel’, the great man – the epitome of a non-completer-finisher (Porlock!) – never having managed to do so himself.

Yes, ‘hubris’ – who, or what was I calling out? The literature on Coleridge (and his Romantic poet companion wanderers in halcyon landscapes) is probably enough to sink hundreds of Titanics multiple times over. Every work, every sentence, every word, every comma, every obscure reference in Greek, Latin – or Coleridgean – has been pored over by people who have invested their lives in The Quest … then along comes some Bristol poet or the other who ‘finishes’ one of Coleridge’s opuses: Christabel. Derision is to be expected. Praise, perhaps. More likely to be ignored, which no artist much likes. 

Yet – and this undoubtedly opens me out to further derision – I tried to resist the necessity to release Christabel and the whole cast of protagonists (her sire, Sir Leoline; her nemesis, Geraldine – is she the daughter of Sir Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine Castle in the Scottish Borders, “that castle good / which stands and threatens Scotland’s wastes”, as she purports to be, or could she be someone else’s daughter?) from their over 200 years in limbo – but they insisted someone had to do it, none more so than Christabel herself. 

Sir, you say, pshaw! But if you’re up on top of the Quantock Hills of Somerset at midnight on the winter equinox at Lady Fountain ‘neath ancient Dowsborough and the Lady herself appeareth and spake, ‘Release Christabel! Release … Christabel….’, then what to do? Release her, evidently, or stop pretending to be ‘a poet’.

Brighter then, and brighter as it seemed,

Shone the spectre, as Geraldine screamed:

‘Mercy, have mercy upon me, mother mild,

‘T was not my wish to besiege thy child!’

‘Then whose, demon-stock?’ Set forth the mother

‘Doth the succubus have father, sister, brother?

Art thou witch, warlock, devil’s sporn?

In which measureless cavern wast thou born?

In which savage place, devil haunted?

Out of which hag’s unclean womb wast enchanted?


The process, which unwound naturally over most of the rest of a year – with major chunks written at Treowen, a 17th century manor house in Monmouthshire, Wales – was uncomplicated: let the cast of Christabel work out their own destinies though me. Write – in longhand – until I come to a stop, then refer back to Coleridge: who was Geraldine (‘dine’, not ‘deen’)? Why was she trying to seduce Sir Leoline and destroy all his seed? That seduction scene – was Christabel really innocent? Was Geraldine also under some form of compulsion? Why had Sir Leoline and Sir Roland de Vaux argued bitterly all those years ago and would now have nothing to do with each other? What’s with the green snake demonesses (common enough in the Quantocks, rare elsewhere)? I’d intended Christabel, at the beginning, to ‘do an Ophelia’, id est, go mad, float downstream with flowers in her hair, and drown. But she point blank refused. What to do?

I decided at the beginning that I would ‘bolt on’ my voice to that of Coleridge’s: Christabel Released contains all of STC’s original (split into 4 parts rather than 2), bar his ridiculous coda (‘a little child, a limber elf’ … ‘a fairy thing with red round cheeks’, ‘singing, dancing to itself’??? Camille Paglia is correct – he calls up these atavistic apparitions, then can’t deal with them!). The other 16 parts are all mine, making Christabel Released 18% Coleridge, 72% Hoyte. When I didn’t know where the story was going, I’d ask Coleridge. I am a declamatory poet (‘the poetry is in the voice’), so Christabel Released takes 3 to 4 hours to declaim (it’s fun doing a performance and then asking people who didn’t know Christabel where they thought Coleridge ended and Hoyte took over!). The premiere was a perambulation through the various rooms of Halsway Manor in the Quantocks over a long weekend, with a period banquet, comments including, ‘was that really nearly 4 hours? I never wanted it to end!’ and ‘we found this event by chance, yet it was a highpoint to our Summer, a night of magic and mysterious intrigues in a peerless setting.’

Is Christabel Released ‘a reimagining of Romanticism’? Well, not so much ‘a reimagining’ as an extension, perhaps – it takes the tropes of Romanticism (the uniqueness of the human spirit, reflected in and deeply connected to the untamed wildness of nature; emotion over reason; freedom of form; and an exploration of the Gothic and unknown, etc.) and adds a 21st century twist, noting the passing of the Old Order and the individual choices which may be possible today, but not in the 18th century; it appropriates Coleridge and makes him, terrible phrase, ‘21st century – relevant’ (bonus: no ‘limber elves’). Is that ‘an escape’ from the realities of our age? Just as William and Dorothy Wordsworth and ST Coleridge sought a new way of doing poetry, of living, in the closing years of the 18th century after the disillusionment of the French Revolution, so perhaps we can also reimagine our lives set against ‘the untamed wildness of nature and the uniqueness of the human spirit’?

Ralph Hoyte will be next declaiming Christabel Released (abridged) as part of the Words in Watchet literary festival on 17 February 2024. Christabel Released is available as print-on-demand/eBook on Amazon; and as an audio book on Bandcamp. Anyone up for making Christabel Released into a graphic novel?

Website and contact:

Stephen Copley Research Report: Will Sherwood on the Romantic Echoes in the Manuscripts of J.R.R Tolkien

As I write this, the smoothly carved Oxfordshire countryside ripples by, the deep green grass ablaze under the gleaming sun after what has been a rather moody winter in Oxford. Over the past week I have been slowly losing my eyesight deciphering J.R.R. Tolkien’s (1892-1973) handwriting at the Bodleian. The last time I consulted his unpublished manuscripts was in 2019 for my Masters by Research on Tolkien and John Keats. This time, I sought to broaden my scope to excavate Tolkien’s inclusion of the Romantics into his essays, lectures, and notes. Prompted by my initial research in 2019, there were already a couple of manuscripts and books that I intended to peruse more thoroughly. Unsurprisingly, I soon had a list of further references, comments, and criticisms of the Romantics across a vast set of texts.

Figure 1: Outside the Weston Library, the home of Tolkien’s manuscripts

Dominant narratives and impressions surrounding Tolkien have traditionally centred on either his Medievalism or Roman Catholicism. However, twenty-first century scholarship has branched out to include his reading and familiarity with post-Medieval authors and texts. This is where my work comes in; British Romanticism has been of peripheral interest to Tolkien scholarship and Tolkien has been (at a stretch) marginal to Romantic studies. By unearthing Tolkien’s understanding of the British Romantics, both fields can begin to better examine the intersections between Middle-earth and Romanticism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The global consumption of Middle-earth (whether Tolkien’s original texts or their adaptations) allows for Tolkien’s own legacy to become intertwined with Romanticism’s own – but that is for me to investigate over the next few years. See you at future conferences!

My research trip to Oxford has chiefly been concerned with locating Tolkien’s references, (mis)quotations, and criticism of the Romantics throughout his life. I started with his undergraduate notebooks and library loans. Underacknowledged goldmines, these texts (including Sidney Colvin’s Everyman biography Keats, 1886 and A.C. Bradley’s Oxford Lectures on Poetry, 1909) house not only Tolkien’s lecture notes pertaining to the Romantics (partly published in my previous article ‘Tolkien and the Age of Forgery’, 2020), but also his marginalia in library loans from Exeter College – a heinous offence that prompted a gasp from the Tolkien Archivist, Catherine McIlwaine, and a gleeful, demonic smile from myself. Please do not interpret this as me condoning the graffitiing of library books!

Figure 2: Exeter College Oxford, Cohen Quadrangle

Although the argument can be made that undergraduate notes and reading does not equate to interest or investment (a line I have heard on several occasions), it cannot be overstressed that Tolkien’s critical reading of the Romantics and Romantic scholarship coincided with the birth of his mythology’s first iteration: The Book of Lost Tales. As Tolkien rewrote The Book of Lost Tales throughout the 1910s to 1930s, he consistently showed his aptitude for employing cultural and textual references from nineteenth-century and contemporary sources to communicate ideas pertaining to Medievalism and philology in his university and public-facing lectures.

Figure 3: Skyline view of Oxford from the University Church of St Mary the Virgin

What also became apparent the more I read Tolkien’s quoting from Romantic texts is that he predominantly relies on his memory. Although his quoting does not change the meaning of the original text, Tolkien frequently misquotes Romantic texts and sometimes mistitles them. Although this should not be a surprise given the British education system’s emphasis on the memorisation and recitation of poetry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I think it underlines Tolkien’s vast reading and assimilation of British literature. He quotes the Romantics in texts meant for private contemplation as much as he does in public-facing lectures or publications. The former are remediations of Romantic literature that are folded into Tolkien’s broader theoretical thinking about the role of the author and fairy tale tropes. For Tolkien, his engagement with the Romantics opens new avenues of thinking about the literature, genres, and forms that he is most familiar with.

I would like to conclude by thanking BARS for awarding me the Stephen Copley Research Award, it has been instrumental in enabling me to visit Oxford and consult Tolkien’s manuscripts.


Will Sherwood is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow researching the intersections of J.R.R Tolkien and British Romanticism. The Education Secretary for The Tolkien Society, Will has presented at conferences on Tolkien, Romanticism, and Object-Oriented Ontology; his articles and reviews feature in various journals and he has edited several books, including Adapting Tolkien, Tolkien and Diversity, and The Romantic Spirit in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien (co-edited with Dr Julian Eilmann).

Twitter (X): @MrWillSherwood

Call for Essays: Poetry and the Gothic

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Poetry has been an integral part of the Gothic mode since its inception. However, the connection between poetry and the Gothic seems a less explored area of critical inquiry, in comparison to fiction. While the Graveyard Poets and other Anglophone poetry movements are already considered foundational to the Gothic mode, our edited collection seeks to broaden the scope of what can be conceived of as “Gothic poetry” or poetry inspired by the Gothic.

Despite geographic differences and historical contexts, the reflexive and productive capacities of  the Gothic in poetry, and of poetry itself, bring poetic works in affinity. Tragic histories are simultaneously past and present: past in the sense that events haunt us and remind us of our violent encounters but also present in the haunting as a continuation of these disaster consequences into the present. Expressing this Gothic sensibility, the poet speaks from a liminal stance. Thus poetry, perhaps, fits perfectly into the conception of a Global Gothic.

We welcome papers that take a flexible view of the Gothic, locating it in various cultural contexts and languages from the long 18th century to the 21st century. We also welcome those who take a more historicist view of the Gothic to submit their work. What constitutes a Gothic poet? How do we conceptualize Gothic poetry differently from other genres? We invite essays that rethink the connection between poetry and the Gothic. Investigations of Gothic poetry and its connection to other genres and media are also welcome.

We invite 300 word abstracts on topics related to the Gothic and poetry, broadly considered, for an edited collection to be submitted to an academic publisher. With your abstract, please include a brief 100 word bio. If accepted, you will be asked to submit a chapter of about 6000 to 7000 words by November 30th, 2024.

Please email your abstract and bio as a PDF, .doc, or .docx attachment by May 15th, 2024 to:

Some possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Liminality and the Gothic
  • The numinous and spirituality
  • Poetry as foundational to the Gothic
  • Gothic and poetry in translation
  • Gothic poetry and Romanticism
  • Essays focusing on 20th and/or 21st century poets
  • Poetic Forms and Modernity
  • Poetics and Politics
  • Transcultural Poetics and the Global Gothic
  • Poetry and the EcoGothic
  • Poetry, disaster, and crisis
  • Poetry and Gothic novels
  • Lyricization and the Gothic
  • Gothic poetry and gender
  • Gothic Poets and their Biographies
  • Gothic poetry and class
  • Poetry and Multimedia/Video Games
  • Western and Non-Western Gothic poetry traditions
  • Gothic poetry and race/ethnicity
  • Postcolonial/Decolonial Approaches to Gothic poetry


Samantha Landau (The University of Tokyo, Japan), Li-Hsin Hsu (National Chengchi University, Taiwan), Thomas Leonard D. Shaw (University of the Philippines, Diliman)

Contact Email

Note on Editors:

Li-hsin Hsu is Professor of English at National Chengchi University, Taiwan. Her research interests include Emily Dickinson studies, Romanticism, Taiwan modern poetry, and Ecocriticism. She has co-edited a number of special issues and collected volumes on Asian Gothic related topics. She is also involved in the Emily Dickinson International Society and is a co-founder of the Gothic in Asia Association.

Samantha Landau is a Project Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo (Komaba) in Japan. Her research primarily concerns Gothic fiction. She also researches at the intersection of cultural studies, music, and poetry. She is a co-founder of the Gothic in Asia Association and Tokyo Humanities Project. In addition to her academic work, she is a published poet. She is also a classical vocalist and has been performing for over 30 years.

Thomas Leonard Shaw is a faculty member at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines Diliman. His latest publication is an essay on Philippine Horror Cinema included in the anthology Contemporary Horror on Screen (Springer). Thomas has several upcoming publications on Philippine gothic literature. His research interests include but are not limited to: gothic and horror studies, memory studies, and Philippine literature.

‘York and the Georgian City: Past, Present, and Future’: Conference Details

York Georgian Society and the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of York

Saturday 18th May 2024, 10.15-7.00

‘York and the Georgian City: Past, Present, and Future’

The aim of this conference is to re-evaluate the notion of York as a Georgian city, which was one of the founding premises of the York Georgian Society in 1939. It will examine to what extent York can be described as a ‘Georgian’ city, and whether that label is relevant or meaningful in the present day.

This is the first conference organised by the York Georgian Society, in conjunction with the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of York. It will be held in the beautiful and historic King’s Manor just outside the city walls; historically this is the most important building in York after the Minster.

The keynote lectures will be given by Professor Rosemary Sweet of the University of Leicester, and Madeleine Pelling, historian, writer, and broadcaster. Others speakers are from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of York: Professor Jon Mee, Dr Matt Jenkins, and PhD students Constance Halstead and Rachel Feldberg. The day ends with a round table to discuss issues raised on the day and a reception.

You can find a full programme and details about the speakers on the York Georgian Society’s website, where you can register for the conference.

Tickets cost £5 for students, £15 for members of the Society and University of York staff, £25 for others. The price includes morning coffee, a light lunch, afternoon tea, and a reception.

Event: Midlands Romantic Seminar

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Dr. Madeleine Callaghan, 14 March

The University of Derby’s Enlightenment and Romanticism Research Cluster are thrilled to announce the return of the Midlands Romantic Seminar. 

Our first in-person speaker, Dr Madeleine Callaghan (University of Sheffield), will speak on 14th March at 6pm at the University of Derby’s Kedleston Road campus. Madeleine’s talk is titled, ”’The Magic Circle There”: Inner and Outer Worlds in Shelley’s Lyrics’. A synopsis follows below:

Shelley’s poetry enshrines struggle in terms of how the single self seeks and finds connection. That connection so often seems ‘forever sought, forever lost’, with Shelley writing speakers, selves, ‘I’s that evince an impulse, even an urge, to unity which then precipitates a fall back into the self. The story of the self and its connection to others seems like it, to borrow Adonais’s brilliantly distilled line, ‘Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither’. What we see in Shelley’s poetry are wave-like structures that move between isolation and intimacy. We ride the crest of these waves as if with Shelley to learn the movement between an alienated selfhood and the dream of complete connection, and back again. Shelley’s poetry sways between these two poles. This talk will view the Jane poems as offering a key example of how Shelley constructs the idea of inner and outer worlds. The inner, Shelley’s intensely literary or ‘written’ universe, operates as a textual field of meaning. The outer world stands for the real biographical existence of Jane, Shelley, Mary, Edward, as real people in the actual world itself. In the Jane poems, Shelley places these distinct but connected worlds in touching distance of one another. For in the Jane poems, we seem but only ever seem to know who Jane is in relation to Shelley, how Shelley feels, and what these poems might mean to the man’s life even as we are aware of her as a fully formed person in her own right. Shelley creates inner and outer worlds, where we weave between the textual and the biographical, looking to reconcile planes that Shelley never allows to collapse into oneness in the Jane poems.

Any queries, please get in touch with the Midlands Romantic Seminar convenors, Dr Paul Whickman ( and Dr Amanda Blake Davis (

We hope to see you there!

Tree Talks: Tree, Tourism, and the Lakes

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19 March 2024, 8pm-9.30pm GMT 

Event Details

In his Guide to the Lakes, William Wordsworth famously denounces the larch tree (Larix decidua) as a ‘spiky tree’ that causes ‘injury’ and ‘deformity’ to his Lakeland landscape. The poet took issue with the ‘vegetable manufactory’ of this tree species and questioned both its visual appeal and monetary value for contemporary landowners. Using Wordsworth’s views of this tree—and representations of other tree species across his writings—as a starting point, this Tree Talk will address the relationship(s) between trees, tourism, and biodiversity in the Lake District in the early nineteenth-century. Moreover, it will consider the relevance and inheritance of these interconnected discourses to how we understand trees, their cultural significance, and ecological place within and beyond the Lakes, today.


  • Dr John Lovseth (Principia College, USA)
  • Professor Nick Mason (Brigham Young University, USA)
  • Professor Saeko Yoshikawa (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Japan)

What are ‘Tree Talks’?

Tree Talks is a series of online discussions about tree-oriented research, interests, and activism in the environmental humanities and beyond. It aims to bring together experts from different research disciplines and to create a space to disseminate, explore, and forge links between a diverse range of tree topics that are relevant to our past, present, and future environments.

This series of three Tree Talks will be held in collaboration with the Wordsworth Trust. Each of the sessions will feature short talks on a tree-related topic, an introduction to a related object in the Wordsworth Trust’s collections, and will be followed with an open Q&A discussion.

Sessions are free to attend, but booking is required.


Tree Talks is co-organised by Dr Amanda Blake Davis and Dr Anna Burton, Lecturers in English Literature at the University of Derby. Their new and collaborative project, ‘Romantic Trees: The Literary Arboretum, 1740-1840’, explores Romantic responses to a range of individual trees and tree species and pays particular attention to shedding light on the network of international and environmental contexts within which they were viewed, culminating in the opening of the first modern arboretum, Derby Arboretum, in 1840.

How to book and attend

Attendees will receive a webinar registration link shortly after booking a free ticket. This event takes place on Zoom, and automatic live captions will be provided by

Image: George Barret (1767-1842), Grasmere from the South End of the Lake, undated, watercolour drawing.

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