CFP: De Quincey at 200

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The Jerwood Centre at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, 13–14 May 2022

Keynote Lecture by Robert Morrison (Bath Spa University, British Academy Global Professor)

Deadline for proposals: 15 November 2021

In September and October 1821, the London Magazine published a remarkable text. Republished as a book in 1822, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater: Being an Extract from the Life of a Scholar was an instant sensation, launching its writer, Thomas De Quincey, on a long and richly varied career in literature. Negotiating between London and the Lakes, between prose and poetry, and between a dizzying range of discourses and disciplines, the Confessions invented the genre of addiction literature and redefined what it meant to write Romantic prose. Above all, through his Confessions, De Quincey asserted himself amongst the Lake Poets, particularly situating himself alongside and against Wordsworth and Coleridge.

To mark this singular text’s bicentennial, we invite papers for an international conference on De Quincey, his Confessions, and the Lake Poets. Suggested topics include:

•  De Quincey on the Lake Poets/the Lake Poets on De Quincey

•  De Quincey’s later oeuvre

•  The literature of addiction

•  Romantic (auto)biography

•  The Confessions at 200 in light of other Romantic bicentennials

•  Romantic essay writing: Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt, Christopher North, etc.

•  Disciplines and discourses in the Confessions and beyond: philosophy, political economy, politics and ideology, the urban sublime, etc.

•  Reception and legacy of the Confessions: Woolf, Baudelaire, Poe, etc.

•  Magazine culture

We welcome proposals for standard 20-minute conference papers (max. 250 words), as well as for three-person panels (three abstracts of max. 250 words). Experimental formats will also be considered. Please include your name, affiliation and email address in your proposal.

The conference will take place in De Quincey’s onetime home in the Lakes, on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May 2022. The fee, excluding residence costs, will be in the region of £100. There are many B&Bs and hotels in Grasmere within walking distance of the venue.

 Please send proposals and any queries to The deadline is 15 November 2022.

 Organisers: Brecht de Groote (Ghent), Tim Fulford (De Montfort), and Matt Sangster (Glasgow).

On This Day in 1821 – Shelley, Byron, and Leigh Hunt’s 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 26th of August 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the letter from Percy Shelley to Leigh Hunt which launched the collaboration between himself, Hunt, and Byron on the periodical The Liberal. Veteran ‘On This Day’ writer and Percy Shelley scholar Ana Stevenson takes this occasion to discuss the relationship between the three men, and the personal and professional frictions which their collaboration provoked.

On This Day in 1821 – Shelley, Byron, and Leigh Hunt’s The Liberal

by Ana Stevenson

He [Byron] proposes that you should come out and go shares with him and me in a periodical work, to be conducted here; in which each of the contracting parties shall publish all their original compositions, and share the profits.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821

On this day 200 years ago, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Leigh Hunt to suggest they work on a new periodical in collaboration with Lord Byron: The Liberal. There are uncertainties regarding whose idea it was – some say that Byron vaguely suggested the project while Shelley visited him in Ravenna, and Shelley decided to bring Hunt on board. Others suggest that it was Shelley’s idea – perhaps motivated by a longing to unite the group through the radical beliefs that had brought them together in the first place.[1]

Hunt had recently attempted to launch a new journal, The Indicator, which concluded with the seventeenth volume. He had no money, a large family, and a sick wife. Shelley had provided him with some financial help for a while, but his own resources were limited. Byron was unlikely to give Leigh Hunt any sum of money, as Hunt’s habit of asking for money and never paying back was one of the reasons why Lord Byron had distanced himself from his former friend.

Percy Bysshe Shelley by Amelia Curran (1819), National Portrait Gallery

Perhaps a reconciliation linked with financial benefits is what Shelley had in mind when he suggested that he would be exempt from any profit coming from The Liberal:

There can be no doubt that the profits of any scheme in which you and Lord Byron engage, must, from various yet co-operating reasons, be very great. As to myself, I am, for the present, only a sort of link between you and him, until you can know each other and effectuate the arrangement; since[…] nothing would induce me to share in the profits, and still less in the borrowed splendour, of such a partnership.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821.

Byron and Hunt knew each other well, having been introduced by fellow poet Thomas Moore in 1813 while Hunt was imprisoned for libel at Surrey Gaol (a result of Hunt expressing his feelings regarding the Prince Regent in The Examiner). Byron sympathised with the writer and his views, and paid Hunt another visit soon after they were first acquainted.[1]However, although the burgeoning friendship had potential, it weakened over the years and by the time Byron had moved to Italy, they were no longer in direct contact and only received news of each other via third parties.

Lord Byron by Richard Westall (1813), National Portrait Gallery

Shelley seems to have been aware that borrowing money was a delicate subject when those involved were Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt. Being a pragmatic man, he knew that Hunt could not possibly afford to relocate to Italy with his family, and asking Byron for help – who may have already been unsure about being “in business” with Hunt – was not an option. Shelley writes to Hunt informing him that:

I did not ask Lord Byron to assist me in sending a remittance for your journey; because there are men, however excellent, from whom we would never receive an obligation, in the worldly sense of the word; and I am as jealous for my friend as for myself. I, as you know, have it not: but I suppose that at last I shall make up an impudent face, and ask Horace Smith to add to the many obligations he has conferred on me. I know I need only ask.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821

Shelley was eventually able to secure a large loan on Hunt’s behalf from Byron, but only by using his own inheritance as security.[2]

In the past, both Shelley and Hunt had held low opinions of Byron’s behaviour towards women. Shelley was an admirer of free love, believing that Love is an unlimited source not to be controlled by others than the individual, but he also thought that the relationship between the persons in question should go beyond vulgar lust.[2] He condemned Byron’s lifestyle in Venice, but with the poet’s relocation away from this Italian den of iniquity, Shelley assured Hunt that Lord Byron had abandoned his disreputable ways and a connection with him was no longer a potential harm to one’s reputation. He concludes his letter with the observation that:

Lord Byron is reformed, as far as gallantry goes, and lives with a beautiful and sentimental Italian lady, who is as much attached to him as may be. I trust greatly to his intercourse with you, for his creed to become as pure as he thinks his conduct is. He has many generous and exalted qualities, but the canker of aristocracy wants to be cut out.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821

Hunt’s journey to Italy was an arduous one. It cost more money than predicted due to delays caused by the weather and his wife’s ill health. It was not until the 1st of July of the following year that Shelley and Hunt were finally reunited in Livorno. Shelley was said to be in the highest spirits, joking and laughing until tears were streaming down his eyes.[3]

Leigh Hunt by Thomas Charles Wageman (1815), National Portrait Gallery

They set off to Pisa with Lord Byron, but it was clear that this reunion did not go as smoothly as Shelley had hoped. Hunt was already in debt and Byron appeared annoyed by the presence of Hunt’s large family, but Shelley made great efforts to mediate the situation. He was optimistic about the first edition of The Liberal, which was to come in the autumn, featuring Byron’s Vision of Judgement amongst other poems. However, his friend and travelling companion, Edward Williams, was anxious to return to his wife Jane in Lerici. Shelley was pressed by Hunt and Byron to stay, but also had his own partner Mary and infant son waiting for him at home. He decided to return to Villa Magni with Williams on the 8th of July, with promises to be with his friends very soon. That was the last time Hunt would see Shelley alive; the stormy waters claimed Shelley’s life that same night.

The Liberal went ahead but did not last. It is possible that Byron may have only proceeded with the plans for The Liberal, a project he was already bored with, to honour his late friend. The first number came out in October of that year, featuring Shelley’s translations from ‘Faust’ along with the poem promised by Byron. The periodical was published in London, but it was not received well, and its radical content shocked the public. The Liberal ceased after four volumes. Shortly after, Byron left for Greece, where he died in 1824, and Leigh Hunt returned to England where he would continue to write, eventually publishing a memoir in 1828 called Lord Byron and Some of His Contemporaries: With Recollections of the Author’s Life, and of His Visit to Italy. Leigh Hunt passed away on the 28th of August 1859, almost 38 years to the date of Shelley’s letter proposing their reunion.

Ana Stevenson (@AnaBStevenson) is a writer and independent scholar based in London. Ana specialises in English Romanticism with a focus on the life and works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, currently exploring personal accounts recorded by his contemporaries in order to gain an insight into the development of his philosophy and assisting on the #Shelley200 project and conference as a Postgraduate Helper. Read her previous contribution to this series here…

[1]Richard Holmes, Shelley: The Pursuit (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974) p. 728.

[2]Topic elaborated by Nathaniel Brown on Sexuality and Feminism in Shelley (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979) p. 49. Brown uses a canceled passage from A Defence where Shelley discusses the bucolic or erotic poets of Egypt and Sicily.

[3]Holmes, p. 728.

A Short Judges’ Report on the 2021 BARS First Book Prize

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(Derived from the remarks delivered at the ceremony on August 19th at the Romantic Disconnections/Reconnections Conference.)

Awarded biennially for the best first monograph in Romantic Studies, for the current round the prize was open to first books published between 1 January 2019 and 1 January 2021. The judges for the current round were, in alphabetical order, David Fallon, Tess Somervell, and Angela Wright. Francesca Saggini chaired the panel.

The judges received 17 submissions, 12 of which were considered eligible. The remaining books were considered ineligible due to language (not in English) or as being outwith the current cut-off date of the Award.

First of all, we must say that the judges were impressed by the overall high level of originality and by the interdisciplinarity of all the submissions. Here we would like to commend all the researchers for the unfailingly high level of their scholarship. The competition was incredibly high spirited in this round as we immediately realised that some of the nominated books in 2021 would provide a very strong contribution to Romantic Studies not only now but also in the years to come.

It was a very tough job for the judges to narrow down the field. However, in July, we agreed on a four-strong shortlist of books, as follows (in alphabetical order):

  1. Will Bowers, The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815-1823 (2020)
  2. Amelia Dale, The Printed Reader: Gender, Quixotism, and Textual Bodies in 18thC Britain (2019)
  3. Hrileena Ghosh, John Keats’ Medical Notebook: Text, Context, and Poems (2020)
  4. Gerard Lee McKeever, Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831 (2020)

After further discussion and an intense to-ing and froing on emails, the judges reached consensus. Today, we are thrilled to share with you the name of the winner and celebrate with you all the research of the Early Career Researchers forming the roots and branches of the BARS community.


First, we would like to praise the works of Will Bowers and Amelia Dale (in alphabetical order).

Will Bowers’ The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815-1823 is an excellent interdisciplinary work, focussing upon a very useful distinction between tourists and exiles, and demonstrating an exceptional and strong understanding of British Romanticism, and its engagements with authors such as Dante and Sismondi. Will Bowers’ study ranges over English and Italian literature, European and British history, criticism, translation, print culture, art and more, with some impressive and original archival research. It’s knitted together well into a convincing argument sustained over the chapters, and the written style is lucid and dexterous. This is a very good book, carefully researched and original in most of its aspects. Although focusing on a quite limited period (the ‘hot chronology’ from 1815-1823), it is engagingly presented as a double-focussed study and the organization of the book—closely knit place/time chapters, as in a Bakhtinian chronotope—clearly benefits from this approach.

The judges agree that this is a wide-ranging work, revelatory in many ways, and demonstrates excellent scholarship on both British and Romantic authors, and the interactions between both. A dexterous book, setting the bar of the study of this phase of Anglo-Italianism high.

Amelia Dale’s The Printed Reader is an enjoyable and wide-ranging study, which coordinates a range of concerns (the novel, reading, material print, psychology, gender) deftly and provides illuminating analyses of texts in relation to these concerns. Focussing upon experiential impressions, and the positioning of the reading body as implicitly female, this work brings together in breath-taking fashion considerations of the material text, the history of reading, philosophies, and eighteenth-century British quixotic narratives. It is a work of the long eighteenth century, with valuable insights into how, precisely, reading in the Romantic period comes to fashion the reading body as female too, which happened in so many reviews as well as works of fiction. In this way, Dale also makes an important contribution to the study of Romanticism, for the way in which she traces the impulses of reading and impressions through from the mid eighteenth century to the Romantic period.

The judges agree that this is a fluent, incisive, and highly original work. The Printed Reader teaches a great deal to those interested in book history and female readerships.

As you will be aware, these two books already show the extremely high level of competition in 2021. However, as far any competition goes, this one must have a winner too. And the winner of the 2021 BARS First Book Award is Gerard Lee McKeever with Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831. The panel of judges unanimously also wants to celebrate the truly exceptional work of Hrileena Ghosh: therefore, we propose that an honourable mention go to John Keats’ Medical Notebook: Text, Context, and Poems.

Before celebrating the terrific research of Gerard, a few words on Hrileena’s study.

Hrileena Ghosh’s John Keats’ Medical Notebook is a carefully researched study of the medical Notebook from Keats’ time at Guy’s Hospital. This is the first annotated edition of the notebook (and surely a long overdue feat) and makes a compelling case that Keats was intensely invested in his medical studies, considering how cosmopolitan and cutting-edge they were, and how they left a profound mark on his life, poetry, and letters. The judges were impressed by the interdisciplinarity of Hrileena’s research: poetry, biography, textual editing, palaeography, stylistics, political and social context, multiple archives, and of course medical humanities (particularly anatomy and physiology). The latter was particularly impressive given it triangulated Keats’ poems and notebook with historical and modern medical knowledge and terminology.

Ghosh takes up the challenge of moving from medicine to poetry and back, in a far from easy feat. The results are convincing and illuminating. What we have here is impressive archival and editorial work: a revelatory, valuable work, important for scholars and students. Ghosh makes an excellent job of it, marrying the observations on the notebooks up in new and revealing ways with how to read Keats’ poetry.

The judges agree that this is a superb work.

And finally, on to our 2021 winner: Gerard Lee McKeever’s Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831. The judges were highly impressed by this book – it’s ambitious, admirably clear, and underpinned by meticulous research and close readings, covering both well-known canonical writers (Burns, Scott, Hogg) and less familiar writers/texts (Baillie, Galt). It’s impressively interdisciplinary: philosophy, historiography, textual criticism and editing history, print culture, politics and religion are all in the mix. The four case studies addressed by McKeever offer representative and complementing foci to the study of ‘improvement’, a complex discourse—or network of discourses, contradictory at times—that the author examines from a cross-sectional standpoint and in several contexts (poetry, drama, short fiction and aesthetic theory, amongst others) and with a cross-temporal approach. As a ‘supreme narrative’ (p. 1), ‘improvement’ and its companion ‘progress’ can be both a metaphor and a practice, moral as well as material ‘idea(l)s.’ McKeever makes an excellent job of weaving several strands of inquiry together, thus highlighting the overarching dialectical complexity of his work.

Dialectics of Improvement is very well-written, robustly argued, and includes an interesting range of authors and subjects. The texts by Joanna Baillie, for example, are not the most discussed or studied of her works, and thus McKeever’s analysis of Baillie really adds a new dimension to the scholarship on her work, as does the focus, in a different way, on a single and well-known poem by Robert Burns. The study is full of moments of brilliant close reading, closely balanced by larger claims about Romanticism.

To sum up, this an excellent work of scholarship, insightful and enriched by many incisive and subtle readings of less familiar texts.

Congratulations to the two short-listed authors for their brilliant work: to Will Bowers and Amelia Dale. Also, congratulations to Hrileena for her outstanding book.

The 2021 BARS First Book Award Judges, 23/08/21

CFP: Radicalism and Reform

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The 43rd Annual Conference of the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association
Rochester, New York, March 16-19, 2022

Inspired by the history of radicalism and reform in Rochester, New York, the NCSA committee invites proposals exploring the radical possibilities of the nineteenth-century world. From the aftershocks of the French and American revolutions to mutinies and rebellion in colonies across the globe, the nineteenth century was a period of both unrest and possibility. Abolition, suffrage, and reform movements reshaped prisons, education, and housing, marking this century as a period of institutional making and unmaking: a reckoning with ills of the past that was also profoundly optimistic about a more just and prosperous future.

Radicalism is also a generative term for considering transitional moments or social tensions: “radical” is often used interchangeably with “extreme,” but its earliest definitions describe not what is new or unusual, but what is foundational or essential. “Radical” is used to describe literal and figurative roots: the roots of plants, roots of musical chords, and the roots of words. To be radical is to embody tensions between origins and possibilities: to be anchored in what is foundational while also holding the potential for paradigm-shifting change. We welcome papers that consider these tensions in nineteenth-century culture, as well as those that consider possibilities for reforming nineteenth-century studies or academic life. Topics on nineteenth-century literature, history, art, music, or other cultural forms might include political movements or divisions, activism, resistance, labor, collective and direct action, or mutinies and rebellion. We also encourage broader interpretations of the conference theme: outsiders and outcasts, visionaries, agents of change, utopias, breakthroughs, failed reforms, conformity, or stagnation.

Topics on the state of nineteenth-century studies might include politically engaged teaching and scholarship, academic labor practices, harassment or prejudice in the academy, or new approaches to humanities education.

Proposal Deadline: September 30, 2021. For more information, click here.

William and Dorothy Wordsworth: A Late Summer Seminar

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3-4 September 2021 on Zoom

The Wordsworth Conference Foundation is delighted  to announce its online  Late Summer Seminar! Make sure that you register online at Eventbrite  to join the free Zoom event on September 3-4.

Following the interruption to the annual Wordsworth Winter School and Wordsworth Summer Conference caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Wordsworth Conference Foundation is delighted to present a short programme of lectures and talks on Zoom, as a trailer for the resumption of the programme of events in 2022. The Wordsworth Winter School, hosted and directed by Peter Dale and Brandon C. Yen, will return to Rydal Hall for the week 14-19 February 2022, and the Wordsworth Summer Conference will once again happen at Rydal Hall on 8-18 August 2022.

For further details and registration, please click here.

A List of Resources on Racial Justice in the Romantic Period and Beyond

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This list, produced by the BARS Executive Committee, will share potential resources for anti-racist teaching and research in Romantic period studies. It is by no means complete or comprehensive, and the main priority in producing this blog post is to invite members, friends and followers of BARS to send us their suggestions for further items we can also help to promote and share. To do so, please contact Anna Mercer (BARS Communications Officer).

Thank you. 

You can read about the actions the BARS President and Executive will be taking to support BAME members, colleagues and researchers in our statement of 12 June 2020.

Black Lives Matter. 

Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Studies

ASECS: Resources for Teaching Anti-Racism and Eighteenth-Century Studies

Bigger6 Collective. ‘Formed in 2017 to challenge structural racism in the academic study of Romanticism. We are literary and cultural critics whose commitment to antiracist and anticolonial politics grounds our study of the global 18th and 19th centuries and their long (after)lives.’ Also their resource list.

BAVS: Black Lives Matter, Starting Points for the Victorianist

The History of Slavery and Black Lives Matter: A List of Resources from The International Slavery Museum 

Bristol and the Transatlantic Slave Trade via Bristol Museums

British Library Learning: The Campaign for Abolition 

Resources on Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation via Brycchan Carey

P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al. ‘Writing about Slavery/Teaching About Slavery: This Might Help’, a community-sourced document 

Slavery in the National Archives

Wilberforce House Museum 

‘The Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano’, via University of Oxford Faculty of English 

K-SAA Anti-Racism Roundtable Part 1 & Part 2

K-SAA ‘Rethinking Romanticism’ Blog Series 

‘Race, Pedagogy, and Whiteness in the Long 18c: A Teach-In’, a write up on the K-SAA Blog 

K-SAA Uncovering the Archive – Phillis Wheatley Collection, 1757-1773, Emory University 

Patricia A. Matthew, ‘Shondaland’s Regency: On “Bridgerton”’ 

Amanda-Rae Prescott ‘From Bridgerton to Sanditon – Putting Island Queen in a Period Drama Context’ 

The Congress of Vienna and abolition of the slave trade 

Black Studies & Romanticism: A Virtual Conference, and report by Stacy A Creech

The Colston Statue: tickets and virtual exhibition, M Shed, Bristol Museums 

Review of The Woman of Colour Broadview edition, Romantic Circles 

Video of Anti-Racist Pedagogies for 18th and 19th- Century Studies, Dr Kerry Sinanan & Prof. Kirsten T. Saxton 
In collaboration with the Department of English, UTSA, Mills College Center For Faculty Excellence, and the Early Caribbean Society, 2021

Articles on Academia/Publishing

‘Antiracism in the Contemporary University’, LA Review of Books 

Institutionalised racism: A Syllabus via JSTOR. How can we help students understand George Floyd’s death in the context of institutionalized racism? 

‘A case to answer’: ‘This Black Lives Matter moment is a chance for universities to change’ – by Valerie Amos

‘It’s time to End the Publishing Gatekeeping’: A letter from the RaceB4Race Executive Board 

‘White Academia: Do Better’ by Jasmine Roberts 

‘What Anti-racist Teachers Do Differently’ by Pirette McKamey 


The National Memorial Family Fund is the first permanent national resource of its kind specifically for those that are affected by deaths in custody. 

The History of Racial Justice and Structural Racism

‘Looking back; Moving Forwards: The History of Black Lives Matter’ Podcast via the University of Oxford 

‘Black Lives Matter: how the UK movement struggled to be heard in the 2010s’, The Conversation 

Black Cultural Archives 

Anti-slavery International 

‘Britain is not America. But we too are disfigured by deep and pervasive racism’, and other articles by historian and broadcaster David Olusoga – also, series on BBC, ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History’ 

Reading for Racial Justice. The University of Minnesota Press is committed to challenging white supremacy, police violence, and unequal access to criminal justice, education, and resources in Minnesota, the United States, and throughout the world. To promote understanding and action for change, this collection of antiracist books is available to all to read online for free through August 31, 2020

MUSE: Confronting Structural Racism. A selection of temporarily free scholarship from Project MUSE publishers on the history of structural racism in the United States and how the country can realize anti-racist reform

‘Juneteenth And National New Beginnings’ by Tera W. Hunter 

‘The Black Women Who Paved the Way for this Moment’ by Keisha N. Blain 

‘Reading towards Abolition: A Reading List on Policing, Rebellion, and the Criminalization of Blackness’, compiled by the Abusable Past Collective 

‘We can’t breathe’: ‘What connects the most brazen forms of state violence against black people and the struggles of BAME coronavirus patients is systematic racism’ by Gary Younge

@Bigger6Romantix – scholarly work and conversations committed to antiracist and anticolonial r/Romanticism(s) – also see the hashtag #Bigger6

@museum_detox – network for museum and gallery workers who identify as of colour.

BARS Digital Events 2021/22 – Call for Contributions

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The British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) Digital Events Team are delighted to announce that we will continue this online series of roundtables and papers for the next academic year.

The 13 events presented so far have been a great success. The average number of people who register for each event is 170, the average number of YouTube views on each recording is 151.

The Digital Events committee invites proposals from scholars of the Romantic period to present a curated roundtable session as part of the 2021-22 BARS Digital Events series on topics including (but 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 and the gothic
  • Romanticism in the 21st century
  • Romanticism and mobility
  • The relationship between academia, heritage sites, museums, and libraries. 

Interdisciplinary panels are welcomed. All events must include at least one PG/ECR speaker. 

We recognise that this application process favours scholars applying as a team or group. If you would like to participate but are unsure of 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. If possible, please specify your area of research, include a brief biography, and explain the topic and scope of your proposed paper/roundtable idea.

Events last 90 minutes and will take place via Zoom at 5pm UK time on a weekday. Events will contain 3-5 speakers in a ‘roundtable’ format (7-12 mins per talk, then discussion amongst speakers, then Q&A from audience). In order to promote inclusivity, and to be of particular appeal to postgraduate researchers and unwaged scholars, the events will be free and open to all. Events are recorded and shared on the BARS YouTube Channel.

You can watch all of our events so far on YouTube via the BARS Blog, here.

The deadline for proposals is 19 September 2021.

Thank you to all our panellists, chairs and audience members so far, for making the previous events convivial, informative, supportive, and inspiring. 

Members of the BARS Executive would like to send especial public thanks to our BARS Digital Events Fellow Francesca Killoran for her excellent work supporting the programme. We’re also delighted to announce that Francesca will be joining the project for another year. 

How to apply:

Please send your proposal to by 19 September 2021. 

We expect all applicants to be members of BARS and are always welcoming of new members! Find more information about the benefits of being a member and how to apply here.

Please send a proposal for a roundtable of less than 600 words, including the names and email addresses of all speakers (3-5 individuals including one chair). Chairs can also be provided by the committee if the applicant(s) prefer. If you wish for BARS to provide a Chair, please state this in your proposal. An example format would be: 40 minutes of presentations, 10 minutes discussion, 30 minutes Q&A. The papers should be connected by one core subject for discussion and/or a central question for the panel to answer. Please familiarise yourself with the BARS Digital Events format and past topics by viewing previous recordings of events on the BARS Blog.

BARS Digital Events Committee

Amanda Blake Davis

Colette Davies

Francesca Killoran

Anna Mercer

Matthew Sangster 


On This Day – 250 Years of Walter Scott

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In a first-time departure from our celebration of 200th anniversaries here on ‘On This Day’, we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott, Dr Anna Fancett explores the formation of his creative identity and imagination, and introduces the Walter Scott 250 programme of events for 2021. See here for Anna’s previous On This Day post on Scott’s 1821 novel, The Pirate.

See all posts in the ‘On This Day’ series here.

Want to contribute? Contact Jack Orchard

Walter Scott is a figure of firsts. Although the longstanding claims that he is the father of the historical novel and the creator of a romanticised view of Scotland have been challenged in recent years,[1] it is undeniable that his oeuvre began a change in literature that snowballed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, leaving the literary landscape completely altered. This all began with the birth of Walter Scott on the 15th August 1771, two hundred and fifty years ago today.

Walter Scott grew up to become a poet and author who published some of the most popular and influential literary works of the Romantic period. He began publishing in the 1790s with translations of ballads from German, followed by his own compositions. His first major work, however, was his 1802 Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, which included ballads that he had collected and adapted over the previous decade. Although the ballads were successful, it was his narrative poems that first won him true popularity. The Lay of the Last Minstrel, first published in 1805, was well-received by critics and the public alike, and was rapidly followed by other commercial successes including Marmion (1808) and The Lady of the Lake (1810). Today, Scott is predominantly known for his novels, the first of which, Waverley, was published in 1814 to unprecedented success.[2] Indeed, in his recent monograph, Walter Scott and Fame, Robert Meyer argues that Scott’s popularity established him as one of the first celebrities.[3]

Sir Walter Scott, engraved by John Horsburgh after Sir Henry Raeburn (1837). Horsburgh originally engraved Raeburn’s 1808 portrait of Scott for the 2nd edition of J.G. Lockhart’s Life of Scott in 1837. The print above is the frontispiece to the Centenary Edition of Waverley (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black. 1886). Image (c) Walter Scott Library.

All these successes had their origins in Scott’s early years. His love of storytelling, literature, folklore, romance, military history, and nature can be traced back to his early experiences and explorations. Scott wrote about the literary and folkloric influences of his childhood, beginning with the stories and songs that he imbibed in his paternal grandfather’s house, which he had been sent to as a child on account of his health. In the following years, he was introduced to different types of texts by teachers, friends, and acquaintances, building his knowledge through access to libraries, meeting literary greats, such as Burns, and joining literary societies. His early life as a reader closely resembles that of his first novel’s hero. While young Waverley read without plan or purpose, focusing on the texts that amused him the most so that he ‘drove through the sea of books like a vessel without a pilot or a rudder’,[4] Scott himself ‘perused with avidity such books of history or poetry or voyages and travels as chance presented to me—not forgetting the usual, or rather ten times the usual, quantity of fairy tales, Eastern stories, romances, etc. These studies were totally unregulated and undirected’.[5]

One area in which Scott did direct his studies was military history. As with his love of romance, Scott’s interest in military endeavours began with oral tales. As a small child at Sandyknowe, he eagerly listened to accounts of current and past conflicts, and then, when still a child, befriended a military veteran at Prestonpans with whom he engaged in lively discussions. For Scott, military history crossed over into the landscape so that ‘the love of natural beauty, more especially when combined with ancient ruins, or remains of our fathers’ piety or splendor, became with [him] an insatiable passion’.[6]

As his taste included both oral and written tales, so too did his ability to tell stories cross between storytelling and story writing. The young Scott was passionate about telling stories, writing in his autobiography that among his school friends his ‘tales used to assemble an admiring audience round Lucky Brown’s fireside’,[7] and that ‘[i]n crossing Magus Moor, near St. Andrews, the spirit moved me to give a picture of the assassination of the Archbishop of St. Andrews to some fellow-travellers with whom I was accidentally associated, and one of them, though well acquainted with the story, protested my narrative had frightened away his night’s sleep’.[8]

Hardie, Charles Martin; The Meeting of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott at Sciennes Hill House; Abbotsford, The Home of Sir Walter Scott, Image (c) Abbotsford, The Home of Walter Scott

The Meeting of Burns and Scott, oil on canvas painting by Charles Hardie, 1893, Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

A youthful friendship gave Scott more opportunities to create and tell stories:

We lived near each other, and by joint agreement were wont, each of us, to compose a romance for the other’s amusement. These legends, in which the martial and the miraculous always predominated, we rehearsed to each other during our walks, which were usually directed to the most solitary spots about Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags. We naturally sought seclusion, for we were conscious no small degree of ridicule would have attended our amusement, if the nature of it had become known. [This] had, I believe, no small effect in directing the turn of my imagination to the chivalrous and romantic in poetry and prose.[9]

His imagination, through his poetry and novels, remains influential today, and the year of his birth is being commemorated in a vibrant variety of different ways. Today, families are gathering at Abbotsford for Scotfest, which will be full of activities like jousting and storytelling. If you’ve missed Scotfest, however, there are many other ways to learn about Scott this year. Walter Scott 250, a partnership network of over fifty organisations, has a comprehensive list of activities on their website, including talks by leading academics, events run as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, and exhibitions. More information can be found here:

There have been at least four academic books published on Scott within the past year. Walter Scott at 250 includes essays by ten Scott scholars,[10] while Susan Oliver’s Walter Scott and the Greening of Scotland: Emerging Ecologies of a Nation,[11] and Daniel Cook’s Walter Scott and Short Fiction[12] focus on specific aspects of Scott’s work. Shorter Poems, edited by Peter Garside and Gillian Hughes,[13] continues the work of the Edinburgh Edition team to provide scholarly editions of all of Scott’s work.

[1] George Lukács’ seminal The Historical Novel began with Scott, and later studies, such as Harold Orel’s The Historical Novel from Scott to Sabatini have likewise recognised Scott as starting a tradition of historical novels. However, criticism has also recognised the importance of earlier historical novelists. Scott’s representation of Scotland has been considered by various scholars, including James Robertson in his Scott-land: The Man who Invented a Nation.

[2] For more information, see: Bautz, Annika, The Reception of Jane Austen and Walter Scott, (London: Continuum, 2007)

[3] Mayer, Robert, Walter Scott and Fame, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)

[4] Scott, Walter, Waverley, 1814 repr.

[5] Lockhart, John Gibson, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, repr.

[6] Memoirs

[7] Memoirs

[8] Memoirs

[9] Memoirs

[10] McCracken-Flesher, Caroline & Wickman, Matthew (eds), Walter Scott at 250 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021)

[11] Oliver, Susan, Walter Scott and the Greening of Scotland: Emerging Ecologies of a Nation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021)

[12] Cook, Daniel, Walter Scott and Short Fiction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021)

[13] Garside, Peter & Hughes, Gillian (eds), Shorter Poems (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020)

#Shelley200 Roundtable: Revolutionary Shelley

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We are pleased to present the recording of our second #Shelley200 event, a ‘Revolutionary Shelley’ roundtable chaired by Dr Amanda Blake Davis and Dr Anna Mercer and featuring Dr Julie Camarda, Graham Henderson, Dr Jacqueline Mulhallen, and Professor Michael Scrivener. 

This event was livestreamed on 4th August 2021, Shelley’s 229th birthday, and included questions upon Shelley’s revolutionary legacy and a wide-ranging discussion of his poetics, politics, and more. Along with the recording, we are pleased to include a summary of the event composed by Shelley Conference Postgraduate Helper, Ana Stevenson.

Click here to watch.

CFP: Asian Gothic

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Abstract due by 15 October 2021

Co-Editors: Dr Katarzyna Ancuta (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand) and Dr Li-hsin Hsu (National Chengchi University, Taiwan)

The Gothic as an aesthetic mode has been translated into Chinese either as “gede” (哥德) or as “zhiyi” (志異) in Taiwan in the past decades. The former version, with its direct translation from the sound, indicates its western and thus foreign origin. The latter one, alternatively, domesticates the notion by adopting a pre-existent Chinese term and subsuming it into the Chinese classical tradition of tales about strange or abnormal, and mostly supernatural, occurring. Either way, the diverging approaches towards the translation of the concept of the Gothic highlights its complexity, heterogeneity and elasticity as a transnational literary term.  

Asian cinemas and literatures began to capture the attention of Gothic scholars in the late 1990s. Yet when Henry J. Hughes made his case in 2000 for the acknowledgment of Japanese Gothic as a coherent literary tradition and called for the recognition of ‘transcultural’ Gothic, few people rushed to explore this unchartered Gothic territory. Much has changed in the last twenty years. The ongoing decentralisation of Gothic studies and de-westernisation of its methodologies has opened up new possibilities for including cultural productions from diverse geographical locations.Therefore, the appearance of Asia in the broader discussions on the Gothic is not an oddity anymore. The willingness to accept Asian Gothic as a legitimate category has rapidly increased with most edited collections and companions now carrying at least one chapter discussing Asian texts and contexts. Major academic publishers have similarly started commissioning collections and manuscripts on regional variations of Asian Gothic. The ensuing discussion has been insightful for both the Gothic community and area scholars, although, needless to say, many topics still remain unexplored.

With this in mind, we invite contributions to a special issue on Asian Gothic, scheduled to be published in December 2022. We seek essays of 6000-10000 words that would broaden our understanding of the Gothic in Asia. Rather than considering the Gothic as a fixed western-centric genre or a rigidly defined aesthetical category, we propose to address it as a larger umbrella term: a conceptual framework through which distinctive local cultural practices, historical formulations, national and regional traumas, anxieties, collective violent histories and diverse belief systems are expressed. Whether understood as a localised version of international Gothic or part of a larger category of “globalgothic”,Asian Gothic can thus be read as a distinctive aesthetical and narrative practice, where conventional gothic tropes and imagery (monsters, ghosts, haunting, obscurity, darkness, madness etc.) are assessed anew, and where global forms get consumed, appropriated, translated, transformed, and, even, resisted. 

Possible topics for this special issue may include but are not limited to:

·      Gothic themes in Asian literature, film and television, or gothic interpretations of above

·      Gothic and Asian popular culture (manga, comics, anime, games, fashion, subcultures etc.)

·      Haunting memories, wars, trauma, terrorism, history and historiography

·      Gothic myths and their contemporary adaptations

·      Gothic folklore: local gods, demons and spirits; folk narratives and their contemporary reworking

·      Gothic and folk horror

·      Religion(s) and the Gothic

·      Local and regional Gothic and horror

·      Asian adaptations of western Gothic texts, (Postcolonial) rewriting of the Gothic canon

·      Asian Gothic as part of “globalgothic”

·      Animistic practices and the concept of “living Gothic”

·      Western appropriation and adaptations of Asian Gothic literatures, movies and arts

·      Genealogy of Gothic in an Asian context

·      Gothic and gender / class / race  

·      Inter-Asian adaptations of Gothic films, literatures and arts

Please email an abstract of 200-300 words, along with a 100-word bio, to the co-editors Katarzyna Ancuta ( and Li-hsin Hsu ( by 15 October 2021. The notification of the results will be sent out by 31 October 2021. 

The deadline for the submission of your full paper is 20 February 2022. Please follow the submission guidelines detailed on The Wenshan Review of Literature and Culture website, and submit your articles online. The papers will then be subject to the normal double-blind peer-reviewing procedure that The Wenshan Review uses to evaluate all submissions.

The Wenshan Review of Literature and Culture, founded in 1995, is an open-access peer-reviewed journal of literary and cultural studies, and one of the most reputable academic journals in Taiwan. It offers a unique space to bring together scholar from around the world to address important issues and debates in a wide range of research areas. It is currently indexed in: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI); SCOPUS; EBSCOhost; MLA International Bibliography; Taiwan Humanities Citation Index (THCI).

We welcome informal enquiries, and proposals for co-authored contributions. Please contact the co-editors: Katarzyna Ancuta ( and Li-hsin Hsu (