North-West Long Nineteenth-Century Seminar

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Manchester University is hosting 2 events for this seminar series.

Join on campus or online, Wednesday 2nd November, for a special Halloween hybrid edition of the North West Long Nineteenth-Century Seminar, organised by members of the Long Nineteenth-Century Network at Manchester Metropolitan University. Tickets here.

The you can join on campus on Thursday 3rd November for a workshop with the editorial team of the internationally acclaimed academic journal Gothic Studies. The official journal of the International Gothic Association (IGA), this journal covers the field of Gothic studies from the eighteenth century to the present day, providing an international platform for dialogue and cultural criticism in the sphere of Gothic from within every period and media form. This workshop has been jointly organised by the Long Nineteenth-Century Network and the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. This workshop is intended for PGR/ ECR. Tickets here.

Call for applications: Carr-Thomas-Ovenden Fellowship in English Literature at the Bodleian Library

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The Bodleian Libraries are now accepting applications for Visiting Fellowships to be taken up during academic year 2023-24. Fellowships support periods of research in the Special Collections of the Bodleian Libraries, across a range of different subjects. Of particular interest might be the Carr-Thomas-Ovenden (emphasis on Romanticism) Fellowship.  Recent research topics include ‘William Blake’s Apprenticeship’, ‘The Specter of Pandemic: Mary Shelley and Post-Apocalyptic Political Thought’ and ‘Gothic Images: Illustration in the English Gothic Novel, 1764–1830’. 

Details of the Fellowship terms and application process can be found on the Fellowships webpage: Bodleian Visiting Fellowships | Bodleian Libraries (ox.ac.uk).  

Applications for these Fellowships should be made by the deadline of Friday 2 December 2022, 5pm GMT. 

For further information, please email: fellowships@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

The BARS Examiner: Amber Williams on Mr Malcolm’s List – Regency rom-com or subversive satire?

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In this, our first The BARS Examiner piece, Amber Williams reviews and questions the film Mr Malcolm’s List. If you would like to review a theatre production, film, podcast, or exhibition for the new blog series, The BARS Examiner, drop us an email!

This family-friendly Bridgerton, director Emma Holly Jones’s debut feature film, is a triumph that fits perfectly within the landscape of the Regency-inspired movies and shows that are currently popularised in entertainment.  According to Bustle, ‘Inspired by watching Hamilton on Broadway, filmmaker Jones was reportedly keen for a racially diverse cast, especially for its key roles’. Although it may appear that Jones was also inspired by Bridgerton, the Netflix/Shondaland creation was actually released a year after Jones directed a 10-minute short of Mr Malcolm’s List, a short film released by Refinery 29 that became its most watched instalment of the Shatterbox anthology series. Even the setting of the short film reflects the diversity that Jones aimed for and achieved in the feature film, with all outside scenes filmed on location at Kenwood House, home to Dido Elizabeth Belle in the late 1700s. Notoriously hard as it is to get period pieces produced in Hollywood, the full-length ‘homage’ to (and pastiche of) Jane Austen is brilliantly modern, with its tongue-in-cheek parody of class tensions and its wonderful, diverse cast.

There is not a weak link among the cast, and even Ashley Park’s ostentatious, larger-than-life Gertie Covington is hilarious. Reportedly, in an interview with Vanity Fair, Jones dubbed Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù’s Mr Malcolm the ‘new Mr Darcy’. You can certainly see the Austenian influences in the proud and hard-to-please Jeremiah Malcolm, the witty and headstrong Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), and the haughty and condescending Mr Woodbury (Gerry O’Brien) whose comical marriage proposal echoes that of the awkward Mr Collins. Dìrísù and Pinto provide the stereotypical romance dynamic that we all expect to see, but the real chemistry is that between the non-romantic pairings; Divian Ladwa as John (the footman) and Sianad Gregory as Molly (the maid) provide wonderful performances that deviate our focus from the frivolous problems of the rich and privileged. Ladwa steals the show with his humorous quips and satirical facial expressions. With a nod to Downton Abbey in its occasional spotlighting of the serving class (something that Jones chose to focus on in a deviation from the original novel) the audience is given something that rarely occurs in Austen adaptations: an Upstairs Downstairs moment.

Gemma Chan featured as Miss Thistlewaite in the original 10 minute short, but according to Sarah El-Mahmoud’s interview with Jones, she was never intended to be cast in the feature film. However, it was a veritable stroke of luck that Zawe Ashton was cast last minute, in replacement of Constance Wu, as her comic timing and on-screen rapport with Oliver Jackson-Cohen are impeccable. Jackson-Cohen’s Lord Cassidy, or Cassie, plays the stereotypical dandy or fop, a controversial figure of the period when masculinity and what it meant to be a gentleman were being hotly debated. He injects humour into the role, whilst creating a rounded and likeable character who complements Ashton’s Julia perfectly. Another stereotype is played out through Julia and her four seasons without securing a husband, epitomising another prevalent concern for Regency women whose sense of agency and empowerment were starting to evolve during this period, and for the men who were beginning to view this increased liberation as a danger.

The screenwriter Suzanne Allain freely admits in an interview on The Pemberley Podcast that Pride and Prejudice was a significant influence on her when writing the original novel on which the film was based, yet, interestingly, the plot first began as a short story written and set in 2001. Yet, choosing to present Malcolm as a Darcy-like figure makes sense, and the infamous list echoes Darcy’s requirements of an accomplished lady (a list so exacting and exhaustive that it leaves Elizabeth Bennet openly wondering that Darcy might even know one accomplished woman). What is shown, unequivocally, is that the cutthroat world of dating and courtship is a universal experience. Allain notes that she believes the list to be a realistic one, acknowledging that in the early nineteenth century marriage in the upper classes was a matter of negotiation and trade. Certainly, I found myself relating to the list of requirements for a perfect partner, reminiscent of many unhappy hours spent scrolling, spurning, and being spurned in the world of online dating. Malcolm’s list, much like my own unconscious criteria, outlines unreachable standards that completely neglect the enigma of love and connection despite material and social economics. In Austen’s words, marriage is a ‘maneuvering [sic] business’ (Mansfield Park, 1816), yet happiness in that estate is ‘entirely a matter of chance’ (Pride and Prejudice, 1813). What this film reiterates is that we can hold our potential partners up against impossible criteria, but that falling in love cannot be so carefully calculated. The list itself serves as a metaphor for the way one might shield themselves from love for fear of relinquishing control to another and opening themselves up to potential heartbreak. But, as Malcolm himself accedes, it stems from insecurity and an aversion to vulnerability, something we can all probably relate to.

In one of the most poignant moments of the film, Cassie explains to Selina, who sees herself as significantly lower class than her friends, that she is at leastfourth class, maybe even lower third. I am pretty sure I am the only person in the cinema who picked up on this, as my solitary chuckles echoed in the silence, yet this seemed to epitomise the whole story for me: a story of class boundaries that were starting to blur, just as they were with the rise of capitalism and the mercantile classes. This, and the ever-present, nameless gossips whose omniscient social commentary punctuated the plot, made this film a brilliant (if perhaps slightly exaggerated) illustration of the social concerns of the early 1800s.

Allain certainly wrote a love story, and Jones certainly delivered it on screen. But the one relationship that shines through this movie, from start to finish, is that of Selina and Julia. Even when it seems that Julia is manipulative and selfish, her final redemption and the mending of their attachment is a wonderful moment of sisterhood. In my humble opinion, the real love story of Mr Malcolm’s List is that of enduring female friendship which begins to transcend class boundaries and survives both jealousy and ego.

Amber Williams is a second year, Midlands4Cities (AHRC) PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her thesis, ‘The Duel in Britain, 1780-1845’, seeks to explore the phenomena of duelling in the British Romantic Era. Her work and interests focus on the way duelling in literature and art interacts with presentations of masculinity, violence, and reputation; female agency and disempowerment; and British colonial influences through the military, and national and international politics. You can follow her on Twitter here.

On This Day in 1822 – Lord Byron’s The Vision Of Judgement and The Liberal

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The BARS ‘On This Day’ Blog series celebrates the 200th anniversary of literary and historical events of the Romantic period. Want to contribute a future post? Get in touch.

The BARS ‘On This Day’ series brings you Almudena Jimenez Virosta’s discussion of Lord Byron’s The Vision of Judgement which was first published on this day in the first edition of The Liberal.

Today marks the bicentenary of two events: the publication of Lord Byron’s The Vision of Judgement, and of The Liberal – the very first issue of the periodical in which the poem first appeared. Edited by Leigh Hunt and founded by Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, the radical journal was short-lived from the beginning, especially given Shelley’s demise three months earlier in July 1822. However, in only four volumes, The Liberal housed significant pieces for Romantic Studies, such as Shelley’s translations from Faust, included in this issue, and William Hazlitt’s My First Acquaintance with Poets, in the third. According to Mary Shelley’s reporting to Edward Trelawny in May 1823, this issue was enjoyable:

'I had no opportunity to send you a second No. of the Liberal [...] the third number has come out, and we had a copy by post. It has little in it we expected, but it is an amusing number, and [Lord Byron] is better pleased with it than any other....' [1] 

Byron was unhappy with the first issue since it contained an unpolished version of his poem. He had previously sent the corrected manuscript to his friend Douglas Kinnaird who, unfortunately, had not said a word to John Hunt––the printer and brother of Leigh––nor to John Murray, who Byron initially thought to be the culprit [2]. The Vision of Judgement had been written in response to Robert Southey’s A Vision of Judgement (note how Byron changes the articles to ridicule Southey’s), and, as such, it needed to be flawless. However, it had been published without a preface.

As its title suggests, The Vision is a satire about the future of the deceased George III in Heaven that sought to counteract what, according to Byron, was nothing but Southey’s demonstration of ‘gross flattery’, ‘dull impudence, […] renegado intolerance and impious cant’ [3]. Although the two works share the plot and characters, they are often read as opposing ways of fictionalising history as they both address the life and afterlife of the same king according to their contrasting political views. By that time, Byron was no longer a prominent Whig figure, but Southey was as notable as ever in the Tory sphere. Southey had converted his political affiliations twenty years before, not having seen his reputation decay after the publication in 1817 by adversaries of his 1794 Wat Tyler, written amid his revolutionary years. Nonetheless, Byron considered his work still capable enough of stirring political discrepancies. Thus, in a letter written in February 1822, he asked Kinnaird to

"Try back the deep lane,' till we find a publisher for the 'Vision;' and if none such is to be found, print fifty copies at my expense, distribute them amongst my acquaintance, and you will soon see that the booksellers will publish them, even if we opposed them. That they are now afraid is natural, but I do not see that I ought to give way on that account. [...] I once heard of a preacher at Kentish Town against 'Cain.' The same outcry was raised against Priestley, Hume, Gibbon, Voltaire, and all the men who dared to put tithes to the question" [4]

However, Byron faced continuous refusal from several publishers. He was also delayed because he had halted his writing, which he started in the same spring as the publication of Southey’s poem, to compose Cain (1821). Six months had passed since the public first read the Laureate’s work and almost two years since the King’s passing. Would his response to Southey still have the same impact? The Liberal finally published it on October 15, 1822. Yet it came thanks to Kinnaird without a preface––much to Byron’s dismay. 

Parodying Southey, who had initially railed against the Byron-like poets of the so-called ‘Satanic school’, Byron criticised his rival’s endeavours for canonising a monarch who had attempted against liberty [5], but no one saw it. However, Byron’s title page declared its political allegiance ‘in its transparent pseudonym, full title, and a nasty epigraph’, as Wolfson points out [6]. Therefore, signing as ‘Quevedo Redivivus’ (Quevedo Reborn), Byron strategically aligned himself with the Golden Age Spanish satirist who had already exposed his court in his own Last Judgment [7], perfectly knowing what he was doing by provoking such an echo between the political situation of the two countries––for this was common practice since the outburst of attraction for all things Spanish prompted by the Peninsula War (1807-1814). Its full title, ‘The Vision of Judgment / SUGGESTED BY THE COMPOSITION SO ENTITLED BY THE AUTHOR OF ‘WAT TYLER’, said it all, as did its epigraph, which was drawn from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (1596-98):

A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!

I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

Thus, taking up the voice of Shylock and Gratiano, Wolfson explains how Byron first caricatured Southey’s ‘self-inflation to visionary judge’, like “a Daniel”, to then herald ‘his deflation to despised abject in the court of Christian judgement he was so eager to enlist’ [8]. The second edition of The Liberal‘s first number was issued in January 1823, including the missing elements from the first. But that of 1822 had finely served its purpose. The content spoke for itself. No preface was needed, and no delay mattered.

Almudena Jiménez Virosta (@jimenezvirosta) is an MA student at the University of Geneva. She researches the cultural and political interrelations between England and Spain (1600-1850), with a special focus on education and communications in Spanish Golden Age and British Romanticism. 

REFERENCES:

[1] MS’s Letters, 1.338. The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Ed. Betty T. Bennett. 3 vols. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980. Print.

[2] See Peter Cochran’s ‘Lord Byron The Vision of Judgement, edited by Peter Cochran’. Available on his website (accessed: October 2022): 

https://petercochran.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/the_vision_of_judgement3.pdf

[3] CPW, vol. vi, 309–10. Lord Byron the Complete Poetical Works, ed. by J.J. McGann, Oxford, Clarendon, 1980. Print (qtd in Wolfson, 173).

[4] Byron’s Letters, 548. Life, Letters, and Journals of Lord Byron: Complete in One Volume, ed. by John Murray. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1838. Print.

[5] Wolfson, 172-74. ‘The Vision of Judgment and the visions of ‘author’, in The Cambridge Companion to Byron. Ed. by Drummond Bone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.

[6] Wolfson, 174.

[7] Wolfson, 174. | Francisco de Quevedo’s The Last Judgement was part of his Visions (1627) or Sueños, and the scene corresponds to the third night.  

[8] Wolfson, 174. | Both lines are drawn from from Act IV, Scene i. 

Vesuvius 22 | Interdisciplinary Conference, Public Lecture, and Exhibition

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The 1822 eruption of Vesuvius fed into contemporary discussions and imaginings on the themes of disaster, change, and the power and beauty of the natural world. It was also a focus for the emerging sciences of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology, both as a natural laboratory and a crucible for innovations in measurement and analysis, and inspired new ideas about the links between volcanoes, Earth’s interior, and deep time. Vesuvius also fired the imaginations of writers and artists to create works exploring the sublime, natural power, colour, ruins, destruction, and Apocalyptic visions. As the best-known volcano in Western culture, well documented since Pliny’s accounts of the 79 AD eruption, Vesuvius also offers a unique record of human responses to and anticipation of disaster. The Herculaneum excavations in the eighteenth century, conditioned by the classical past, intensified interest in subsequent eruptions, especially that of 1822, as evident in the many scientific and creative responses. Writing and art in the period not only allow unusual insight into the complicated responses to disaster but also into the psychology of living with the threat of cataclysm, which may, in turn, shed light on our contemporary responses – rational, creative, psychological – to the impending climate emergency.

To mark the 200th anniversary of this eruption, we will hold a one-day conference in Oxford, on Friday, 21st October 2022, accompanied by a Vesuvius-themed exhibition in the Weston Library, and a ‘Volcano Day’ at Compton Verney on Friday, 28th October 2022. On Monday, 24th October, Dr Will Bowers (Queen Mary University of London) will deliver a public lunchtime lecture exploring the significance of volcanoes in Romantic-Period literature and culture. The lecture will be held in the Weston Lecture theatre at 12.30 p.m.

All welcome! For more information, please see the attached conference programme and lecture flyer. Register at the following links:

Conference registration page: https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/event/vesuvius-22

Public lecture registration page: https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/event/romanticism-under-the-volcano

CFP: The international circulation and translation of Shakespeare criticism

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Leuven, 26-27 June 2023

As one of the oldest and most widely practised forms of reflection on vernacular literatures, Shakespeare criticism has helped shape modern literary scholarship worldwide. The mutual influence between Shakespeare critics of different nations is well known and has in some cases been extensively studied and debated (see e.g. the controversy that has long surrounded Coleridge’s debt to Schlegel). Going beyond questions of influence, this conference aims to refocus the debate on the actual channels of transmission through which Shakespeare criticism has been circulated and received across linguistic and national boundaries, and on the various new audiences that it has reached through that circulation.   

The conference will take place in Leuven, Belgium on 26 and 27 June 2023. It is organized by the research team of the project ‘Bringing the Bard Back Home? The English translation of foreign Shakespeare criticism in the long 19th century’, funded by the KU Leuven research council. Our plenary speakers are Roger Paulin (Cambridge) and Rui Carvalho Homem (Porto).   

Possible topics include: 

– Translations (faithful or not, authorized or not, with or without paratextual framing…), translators and publishers of Shakespeare criticism in different languages.

– The extracting, anthologizing and international canonization of critical pronouncements on Shakespeare.

– Reprints of Shakespeare criticism in different parts of the Anglophone world / other large linguistic areas.

– Lectures and lecture tours on Shakespeare (Schlegel, Coleridge, Dowden, Bradley, the British Academy Shakespeare lectures, …).

– New media (from 18th- and 19th-century periodicals to 21st-century digital platforms) and their impact on the dissemination/vulgarization of Shakespeare criticism. 

– Audiences and the language(s) of Shakespeare criticism.          

– The rise of English as an international academic discipline and its impact on the production of Shakespeare criticism in other vernaculars.  

The town of Leuven in Belgium is host to KU Leuven, the oldest university in the Low Countries . It is within easy reach of Brussels international airport as well as Eurostar, Thalys and ICE railway terminals. 

Abstracts (200-300 words) for 20-minute papers and short academic biographies (100-200 words) should be sent to Carmen Reisinger (carmen.reisinger@kuleuven.be ) by 31 January 2023. Notification of acceptance for proposals will be sent before 28 February 2023.   

More details here.

‘On This Day’ BARS Blog Series: Call for Contributors

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Want to write for the BARS Blog? Get in touch with a proposal for our series ‘On This Day’.

This series is about Romantic bicentenaries, and has been running since July 2015. We were inspired to create the series following the popularity on Twitter of the ‘OnThisDay’ hashtag, and we hope to present a catalogue of #OnThisDay blog posts that relate to literary and historical events from exactly 200 years ago. The premise of the blog is to give readers a snapshot of 1822 in 2022 (and on into 2023 and beyond!), relevant to that month or even that particular day. The series is also a part of #Romantics200.

The best way to get a feel of this series is to read our excellent posts from past contributors. You can see all the posts here.

Some upcoming bicentenaries in 2022 and 2023 include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Franz Liszt, aged 11, debuts as a pianist in Vienna.
  • Mary Shelley’s Valperga is published.
  • John Hunt publishes Byron’s Don Juan VI-XIV., The Liberal publishes Byron’s “Heaven and Earth” and “The Blues”.
  • Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elia is published.
  • The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland was established
  • Byron sails to Greece to participate in the Greek Revolution.
  • Matthew Baillie dies.

If you have an idea for a blog post about an event that happened On This Day but is not a bicentenary, please do still get in touch!

Contact: Francesca Killoran (Communications Assistant, British Association for Romantic Studies), fsk507@york.ac.uk

International Research Workshop: Entangled Histories of Revolution

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4-5 November 2022, King’s College London

Over the last three years, the Radical Translations Project, funded by the AHRC, has worked to uncover the mobility of revolutionary language – tracking not only what it said, but how it travelled, where it went and what it became.

The digital resource we have created maps the 3-way circulation of translations and people between Britain, France and Italy in the revolutionary period (1789-1815). In trying to grasp the scale and speed of revolutionary change, digital tools have provided perspectives that reach across these methodological divisions, even as they present challenges of their own.

Join us for this 2-day international workshop, which will establish a dialogue with scholars who have inspired us and whose work we have drawn upon in order to deepen our understanding of how these different methodological perspectives can help reconstruct the entangled histories of the period and beyond. Everyone welcome – no pre-registration needed.

Participatory event: Becoming Equal

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11 November 2022, Institut Français, London Kensington

Why is there so much global inequality? What would an equal society look like? What do the terms liberty and equality mean to you today? Join us to explore the ‘Manifesto of Equals’ (1796), a founding text of anarchist, socialist and communist revolutions, through translation, a short film, and an interactive discussion. Award-winning translator Cristina will lead a mini-masterclass on how to translate the Manifesto from its original French, based on a new translation made by students from around Europe, and invite the audience to experience and reflect on the act of translating, as well as respond with their own interpretations. Everyone can take part, even if they don’t know French. 

This will be followed the ca. 15 min film “Writing on the Sand”, by members of the French theatre collective La Phenomena. Inspired by this translation and the Manifesto’s call for radical equality, the film – also a collaboration with students – recounts a struggle for collective ideals constantly hindered by the entropy of everyday life. 

Places are limited so booking is essential through Evenbrite.

Part of the Being Human Festival