Stephen Copley Research Report: Ashleigh Blackwood on Susanna Blamire’s Medical Legacy

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The Jerwood Centre at Wordsworth Grasmere is home to the works of many exciting authors, particularly those with a local or regional connection. The aim of my visit this year was simple: to examine the manuscript writings of Cumbrian poet Susanna Blamire (1747-94). Her poetic works, many of which have only ever existed in manuscript form, cover a rich array of topics, including healthcare, the environment, matters of sociability, as well as travel, and religion. My own interest lies in Blamire’s reflections on her life as both a lay medical practitioner and patient of chronic ill health within her writing.

The Jerwood Centre at Wordsworth Grasmere is home to the works of many exciting authors, particularly those with a local or regional connection. The aim of my visit this year was simple: to examine the manuscript writings of Cumbrian poet Susanna Blamire (1747-94). Her poetic works, many of which have only ever existed in manuscript form, cover a rich array of topics, including healthcare, the environment, matters of sociability, as well as travel, and religion. My own interest lies in Blamire’s reflections on her life as both a lay medical practitioner and patient of chronic ill health within her writing.

Jonathan Wordsworth, the great-great-great nephew of the poet and former Chair of the Wordsworth Trust itself, proclaimed Blamire to have been ‘the poet of friendship’[1], while Patrick Maxwell, her first biographer and editor, labelled her as ‘unquestionably the best female writer of her age’.[2] Yet despite these glowing reflections, there is scarce little in the way of scholarly analysis of Blamire’s writings. Incidentally, great nephews have also become something of a theme within this research, not least of all because as well as having Wordsworth’s view, I also went to Grasmere with Susanna Blamire’s own great-great-great-great-great nephew in tow – at least in spirit and email inbox. Prior to making my visit, I was fortunate to have a conversation with Head Curator Jeff Cowton OBE and his colleague Rebecca Turner to discuss my work on Blamire and its potential significance to Wordsworth Grasmere. Jeff recommended contacting several interested parties, including said nephew, the wonderful Dr Christopher Hugh Maycock, whom he had made aware of my interest and who, I was told, was eager to hear from me. Since retiring from General Practice, Dr Maycock has been a guardian of sorts to Susanna’s legacy, preserving her works as a private owner of some of her manuscripts (which he has since donated to the Wordsworth Trust), and producing his own works about his ancestor.[3] Any story of rediscovering and rehabilitating Blamire to her rightful place in the literary canon would be impossible to tell without acknowledging his role.

I was nervous as I dialled, but Jeff’s recommendation was well made and Dr Maycock was delighted to take my call. A lively discussion about poetry and the poet herself was tempered only by his candid disclosure that he had recently received a diagnosis that, he already knew, would prove terminal. Even in light of such news, however, he was unquestionably clear in his wish to work with me on Blamire and that any matters of ill health should not prove to be an obstacle. His determination was admirable and so, when I packed up my laptop for the Lakes, it was with dedicated promises to keep him informed of all of my findings, particularly as the Trust has since gained Blamire’s collection of manuscripts that had been in another private collection so seeing them together was fulfilling an ambition for him as well as me.

My visit exceeded both of our expectations. The only scholarly article that currently exists on Blamire is Judith Page’s ‘Susanna Blamire’s Ecological Imagination: Stoklewath; or The Cumbrian Village’. Page’s offering analyses the poet’s most-anthologised poem of the same title and concludes that the verse is distinctive for its ‘concern for ecological wholeness and the dependence of the sustainability of nature on human care’.[4] In the archives, I found that such an attitude of care is also much exemplified in Blamire’s array of medical-themed writings and accounted for in ways that are scarce even mentioned in medical works of her lifetime. In addition to being ‘fam’d for skill/ In the nice compound of a pill’[5], Blamire astutely notes that her patients are  ‘more revived by [her ‘chearfulness’] than even by her life-giving Cordials’.[6]

As this quote indicates, one of the most exciting finds of the visit was the complete manuscript of her only prose piece, entitled ‘An Allegory’, which documents with a fairytale-like quality, Blamire’s life as a local healer and producer of remedies. Describing herself as a ‘Physician – Counsellor – and Friend of Mankind’, Blamire recognises the importance of humanity within medicine. Emails and photographs danced between Grasmere and the Maycock family home, and it was a privilege to share my findings. Another with whom I shared my thoughts was Jeff. Towards the end of my visit, we sat down to hot coffee and a sausage roll and became excited by what we could see in the research. As a result of those discussions, and in addition to appearing in my own scholarship, Blamire has also been included in an exhibition at Wordsworth Grasmere ‘(Re)Acting Romanticism: Disability and Women Writers’ (curated by Harriet McKinley-Smith), new resource packs for Wordsworth Grasmere’s community activity, an outreach project with The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH),  and an online public reading of her works and discussion panel event, ‘Susanna Blamire, Medicine, and Romantic Women’s Poetry: An Exploration in Celebration of the Work of C. H. Maycock’,  which is now available on YouTube.

Just 11 days after our event, however, a phone call from James Maycock, Dr Maycock’s son, was the one I had dreaded. It was time to say goodbye. That evening I reminded myself of the therapeutic and restorative qualities of poetry to articulate thoughts and feelings that may be challenging in everyday life. Blamire did not let me down. Among a number of excellent poems that I will continue to explore elsewhere, is ‘Tomorrow. Written in Sickness’. In this verse, Blamire reminds readers of the promise of the future, even in the face of sadness. She writes

How sweet to the heart is the thought of to-morrow,

When Hope’s fairy pictures bright colours display;

How sweet when we can from Futurity borrow

A balm for the griefs which afflict us to-day! [7]

Her accounting for the role of emotions in preserving and improving health and wellbeing continues to strike me as really quite modern. I have been privileged to continue working with the Maycock family since the news of Christopher’s passing came later that evening and we have continued to commemorate the work of both Susanna Blamire and her great nephew. I am grateful for the support of the British Association for Romantic Studies which has allowed me to go beyond the original remit of my application and bring together the past and present of healthcare, poetry, as well as Susanna Blamire’s unique legacy, to new scholarly and public audiences.

In memory of Dr Christopher Hugh Maycock (1937-2022)

Ashleigh Blackwood is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Northumbria. She works on the Leverhulme major project ‘Writing Doctors: Medical representation and Personality, ca.1660-1832. She has also been Co-Investigator of a number of Wellcome Trust Awards including ‘Thinking Through Things: Object Encounters in the Medical Humanities’ (2019-21) and ‘Networking the Critical Medical Humanities’ (2022-25). Her first monograph,   Reproductive Health, Literature, and Print Culture, 1650-1800: Everybody’s Business, will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2023.


[1] Jonathan Wordsworth, Susanna Blamire — Poet of Friendship (Much Wenlock, Shropshire: RJL Smith & Associates 1994), p.4, 11-12.

[2] Susanna Blamire, ‘Epistle to her Friends at Gartmore’, The Poetical Works of Susanna Blamire, ed. Henry Lonsdale (Edinburgh, London, Glasgow and Carlisle: John Menzies, R. Tyas, D. Robertson and C. Thurnam, 1842), p.153-8, p.156.

[3] See Christopher Hugh Maycock, A Passionate Poet: Susanna Blamire (Penzance: Hypatia Press, 2003); Christopher Hugh Maycock (ed.), Selected Poems of Susanna Blamire, Cumberland’s Lyrical Poet (Carlisle: Bookcase, 2008).

[4] Judith Page,  ‘Susanna Blamire’s Ecological Imagination: Stoklewath; or the Cumbrian Village’, Women’s Writing, Vol. 18,  No, 3 (2011), pp. 385-404.

[5] Blamire, ‘Epistle to Her Friends at Gartmore’, pp.153-8, p.156.

[6] Susanna Blamire, ‘An allegory’, MS 2017. 1.19. Wordsworth Grasmere

[7] Blamire, ‘To-morrow. Written in Sickness’, p.71-2, p.71.

CFP – Gothic Game Space as a Living Nightmare

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New Book! Games That Haunt Us: Gothic Game Space as a Living Nightmare

MultiPlay is ecstatic to announce that after the success of our Gothic Games and Disturbing Play Conference CFP, we are working to create an edited collection around the theme of the Gothic. 

We are currently seeking abstracts of 300 words, along with 100 word author biographies, to be sent to networkmultiplay@gmail.com by Friday 7th of October. Please use the heading ‘Games That Haunt Us’. Final chapters will be 6000 words. 

We are looking for chapters that focus on disruptive play, Gothic themes, disturbing mechanisms, and uneasy tension. 

We are particularly keen for international applicants. We are also eager for abstracts which focus on Gothic themes in relation to Japan, the Southern States of America, and work linked to zombie theory from across South Africa.

Some prompts for your consideration (which should be a point of inspiration, and not limitation):

  • Hauntological perspectives onFinal Fantasy VII
  • The use of magic and fear in Ghost of Tsushima multiplayer’s experience
  • Gothic artefacts 
  • Zombies, werewolves and vampires, too
  • The posthuman Gothic 
  • Death and decay in videogames
  • You can’t escape: labyrinths and mazes in game design

If you have any further questions then please email networkmultiplay@gmail.com

CFP – Victorian Literary Languages

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The “Victorian Literary Languages” network studies the multilingualism of nineteenth-century literature, examining the connections between the literary and linguistic histories of Victorian Britain and Ireland. How might critical perspectives on nineteenth-century literature and its canons change when we take full account of the four nations, their numerous languages, and their richly diverse dialect cultures? How did nineteenth-century contests over national identity – and related debates about linguistic purity, diversity, and change – influence literary style and drive formal innovation? And how can methods of close and distant reading work collaboratively to generate new understandings of literary languages? To answer these questions, the network brings together scholars from a range of backgrounds and disciplines (including literature, linguistics, and history), who, by sharing their diverse expertise and perspectives, are developing an innovative, multilingual approach to the study of nineteenth-century literature and culture.

The network’s third workshop, to be held at Bangor University on 12-13 January 2023, will consider how new practices of travel and communication between and beyond the four nations prompted interactions between different languages and dialects, and how literary texts registered the impact of this growth in connectivity. The heightened mobility of the Victorians, and of their texts, enabled the wider communication of local dialects and national languages, but at the same time it accelerated the diffusion of a standardised form of English throughout Britain and Ireland. We will examine these issues at different scales, asking how digital methods can be used to map the movements of languages at a national level, while also discussing representations of linguistic exchange and hybridity in specific literary texts.

If you would like to participate in the workshop, please email Gregory Tate and Karin Koehler (viclitlang@gmail.com) by Friday 18 November. Please include your name, institutional affiliation(s) (if applicable), and a description of your research and your intended contribution (250 words). Further information about the network can be found here: https://victorianliterarylanguages.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk.

Call for Papers – BARS Early Career and Postgraduate Conference: Romantic Boundaries

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University of Edinburgh

15th – 16th June 2023

Proposal Deadline: Monday 12th December 2022

Romantic Boundaries

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Penny Fielding (University of Edinburgh)

Dr Andrew Hodgson (University of Birmingham)

The BARS Early Career and Postgraduate Conference invites explorations of the theme of ‘boundaries’ within the context of Romantic-period literature and thought. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term ‘boundary’ as: ‘That which serves to indicate the bounds or limits of anything whether material or immaterial; also the limit itself.’ With this in mind, the ‘Romantic Boundaries’ conference will unite early-career and postgraduate researchers whose work considers the concept and representations of boundaries – both tangible and intangible – from as wide a range of critical perspectives as possible.

Topics of interest may include, but are not limited to:

  • Geographical and spatial boundaries; transnationalism
  • Temporal boundaries
  • Dialogues between genres and disciplines
  • Lived boundaries (including those pertaining to identity, such as gender, race, or sexuality)
  • Digital boundaries
  • Boundaries and reception; public versus private writings
  • Past, present, and future limits of the field of Romantic studies and its canon

Please send 150-word abstracts for 15-minute papers to bars.postgrads@gmail.com by Monday 12th December 2022, including a 100-word biography. We also welcome 600-word proposals for pre-arranged panels, to be submitted by a panel chair, including individual abstracts and biographies from all panel speakers (3-4 papers per panel).

Follow us on Twitter at: @BARS_PGs Email us at: bars.postgrads@gmail.com

Visit us at: www.romanticboundariesconference2023.wordpress.com

Conference Organisers: BARS ECR Representative Dr Amanda Blake Davis (University of Derby) and BARS PGR Representatives Yu-Hung Tien (University of Edinburgh) and Cleo O’Callaghan Yeoman (Universities of Stirling and Glasgow)

K-SAA Virtual Events: “Everyday Women Who Made Book History: The Stainforth Project as a Digital Compass”

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September 30th, 11 AM EST
Please join the Zoom meeting here (registration required). 

https://www.k-saa.org/blog/k-saa-virtual-events-everyday-women-who-made-history

K-SAA’s new virtual events series highlights recent digital archives and projects, particularly those that shed light on the lives and works of marginalized peoples in the Romantic era and the long eighteenth century.

In this first event chaired by Professor Michelle Levy (Simon Fraser University), Professors Kirstyn Leuner (Santa Clara University) and Deborah Hollis (University of Colorado Boulder) discuss their work on The Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing, http://stainforth.scu.edu. The heart of the project is a searchable, TEI-encoded scholarly digital edition of Francis Stainforth’s 746-page manuscript library catalog. Francis Stainforth (1797-1866) was an Anglican clergyman of London-area parishes, and his book collection is the largest known private library of Anglophone women’s writing collected in the nineteenth century. The authors, editors, and translators in the library include poor and working-class women; those with disabilities; writers of a variety of religions including Jews and Quakers; African American women; children as young as eleven or twelve years old; survivors of assault; incarcerated women; and queer writers.

During a brief presentation followed by a Q & A, the speakers will discuss how the Stainforth project can serve as a digital compass for women’s writing in the archives.

Registration is required for this event.

Special Issue: “Reading Shelley on the Bicentenary of his Death”

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European Romantic Review is pleased to announce the publication of a Special Issue (vol. 33, no. 5, October 2022), “Reading Shelley on the Bicentenary of his Death,” guest edited by Will Bowers and Mathelinda Nabugodi.

This special issue marks the bicentenary of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s death by presenting ten new readings of his major poetry by some of the most innovative voices working in the field of Romanticism today. Contributors have been invited to offer a concise essay on a single poem, being free to determine the critical parameters of their interpretation. Throughout, Shelley’s own generic and formal range is matched by the diverse critical energies (comparatist, formalist, historicist, decolonial, ecological) that contributors have brought to bear on his poems. The result is a series of original and provocative readings grounded in radically different methodological intuitions.

CONTENTS

Introduction: Reading Shelley on the Bicentenary of his Death – Will Bowers and Mathelinda Nabugodi

Radical Elegy: Adonais, Am/TrakAnahid Nersessian

“Dolce Stil Novo”: EpipsychidionValentina Varinelli

Old Anew: HellasMathelinda Nabugodi

More of Talk: “Julian and Maddalo” – Will Bowers

“Complicated Windings”: “Mont Blanc” – Andrew Hodgson

“Passions Read”: “Ozymandias” – Erica McAlpine

Unbinding Forgiveness: Prometheus Unbound – Alexander Freer

Deep Time: Queen Mab – Andrew Burkett

Autobiography’s Forms: “The Triumph of Life” – Julia Tejblum

Fancy’s Flight: “The Witch of Atlas” – Tom Phillips

Afterword

CFP: Gothic Women

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2023: The Year of Gothic Women. An interdisciplinary project devoted to spotlighting undervalued and understudied women writers

The year 2023 marks the bicentenary of both Ann Radcliffe’s death and two major publications for Mary Shelley: the first edition of Valperga and the second edition of Frankenstein,which now bore her name as author. The Gothic Women Project showcases exciting new strands of research on women’s writing in the Gothic mode, focusing on underappreciated texts by major authors as well as works by marginalised figures. Building on our successful online seminar series, this conference brings scholars into conversation with creative writers, artists, and heritage professionals. We aim to examine the different ways in which the Gothic raises questions of self-definition in a time of crisis, to explore the diversity of women’s Gothic writing in the Romantic period, and to celebrate the afterlives and legacies of this work through the centuries. Collectively, we will challenge mainstream narratives, including those of nationhood, gender, sexuality, and race. Our conference is built on the principles of inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility; we are committed to furthering such principles within and beyond the academy.

Plenary Speakers

Professor Eileen M. Hunt (University of Notre Dame)

Dr Maisha Wester (University of Sheffield & Indiana University)

Professor Angela Wright (University of Sheffield)

Activities

In honour of Mary Shelley’s early life in Dundee we have created a special “Frankenstein Tour” of the city to complement the conference programme. Other optional events will include a civic reception at Caird Hall, a reception in the Gothic Hall of The McManus Museum and Art Gallery, Gothic-themed performances, and more. The academic programme will include workshops on career development, publishing, and creative practices.

Proposals

Abstracts, along with up to six keywords, should be emailed to the organisers at GothicWomenProject@gmail.com before 31 January 2023. We welcome proposals for individual papers (up to 300 words), pre-fabricated panels of no more than three speakers (750 words in total), roundtables involving no more than five speakers (500 words in total), or alternative formats. Topics might include but are not restricted to:

  • Representations and performances of gender and sexuality;
  • Responses to ecological and political crises;
  • National, transnational, racial or cultural identities;
  • Underappreciated texts and marginalised figures;
  • Adaptation, imitation, translation and other forms of textual appropriation;
  • The Gothic and the medical humanities;
  • The presence or impact of women’s Gothic writing in a pedagogical context.

Registration will be available by April 2023. Information about travel, accommodation, and the plenary speakers will be found on the website, which will be updated as the conference programme develops: https://gothicwomenproject.wordpress.com/.

William Blake – Film Season – London

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Drawing inspiration from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, this film season focuses on contemporary filmmakers around the world who tell stories from the child’s perspective.

William Blake describes Songs of Innocence and Experience as “the two contrary states of the human soul.” The poems in Songs of Innocence are about a youthful, gullible character, who has a naive perspective on the world, while the poems in Songs of Experience are more self-aware, developed, and resilient.

The films presented in this season explore the subject of children’s lives and how they offer different perspectives on culture, religion, and society.

Summer 1993 

Summer 1993 is a simple and gentle film about six-year-old Frida, who after the unexplained death of her mother must live with her Aunt and Uncle and their daughter. Carla Simon’s debut feature is a moving semi-autobiographical tale that beautifully reimagines her own childhood, in which she explores the five stages of grief through Frida’s point of view. The depiction of grief never feels laboured and somehow manages to be alluring, bringing simplicity to a subject that is somewhat complex. The film is a serene tale about the loss of childhood innocence and the beginning of a new life. 

Date: 25th September 2022 | Time: 13:25 pm | 96 mins | In Catalan with EN sub 

The Breadwinner  

The Breadwinner is an a thought-provoking film that depicts the war in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban. The young and courageous protagonist, Paravana is forced to hide her female identity and disguise herself as a boy in order to provide for her family. Parvana sets out on a heroic adventure to find her father and bring her family back together, finding courage from fantastical tales she creates. The animated film delivers a poignant message about the harsh realities of the world, while also raising sensitive issues of war and family. 

Date: 9th October 2022 | Time: 13:30 pm | 94 mins | In English 

I Wish  

I Wish follows two brothers (played by two real siblings) who are separated by their parents divorce. The brothers long to live together and make plans to see one another, leading them and their friends on an adventure in hopes that it will change their lives. Kore-eda captures the essence of what it is like to have child-like aspirations that are beyond their influence. 

Date: 16th October 2022 | Time: 15:00pm | 127 mins | In Japanese with EN subtitles 

Tomboy 

A French family move to a new neighbourhood during the summer. Ten-year-old Laure is mistaken for a boy by the local children and begins to call herself Mikael. Celine Sciamma beautifully encapsulates the behaviour and the mindset of a conflicted pre-adolescent, tackling themes of gender identity and politics. 

Date: 6th November 2022 | Time: 13:30 pm | 82 mins | In French with EN subtitles 

For information, click here: https://www.institut-francais.org.uk/cine-lumiere/whats-on/festivals-series/innocence-experience/

Twitter: @Innocence_Exp 

In partnership with the National Film and Television School, this short season is curated by Jaymini Mistry, MA Student in Film Studies, Programming and Curation at NFTS.

CFP – Tales of Terror conference

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FIRESIDE TALES OF TERROR: The Gothic and Winter

University of Warwick, 15-16th December 2022 

“Horrors belong as naturally to the fireside, as fireside belongs to Christmas” declares the narrator of the
piece “Fireside Horrors for Christmas” in the December 1847 issue of Dublin University Magazine. This
image of “popular fireside stories or winter’s tales” exchanged in communal settings had, as the late
Catherine Belsey explained, a “long vernacular tradition” (2010). Furthermore, it was, she argues, a
practice that often-challenged orthodox institutional discourse about, for example, the “true meaning” of
Christmas or the origins of ghosts and tapped into secular and “pagan” rituals and practices. The later
transference of this hearth-side image into textual and visual print, not only as content, but as collective
reading activities has helped immortalise Winter and/or Christmas and the Gothic as ideal bedfellows, not
only in Western cultures but in the wider global imagination. Periodicals of the nineteenth-century such
as Household Words, Belgravia, and The Strand capitalised on the wider Christmas market and the desire
for ghost stories in their specific Christmas Numbers including accompanying illustrations, while an
increasing number of collections and anthologies began to emerge and have remained extremely popular
gifts, from collections of Dickens’s Christmas ghost stories, to Edward Wagenknecht’s 1947 anthology
The Fireside Book of Ghost Stories, to the recent British Library Tales of the Weird anthologies Chill
Tidings: Dark Tales of the Christmas Season and Spirits of the Season: Christmas Hauntings.
Televisual/cinematic and radio adaptations of traditional tales have transformed the communal experience
of terror at Christmas and utilise the oral and the visual in different ways: such as the BBC’s televisual
series “Ghost Stories for Christmas”, TV Christmas specials such as Inside No. 9: The Devil of Christmas
and podcasts such as “Ghost Tales by the Fireside – True Ghost Stories Podcast”. The Gothic-Horror
film has twisted and co-opted the form of the fireside tale of terror and its seasonal trappings to bring us
horrifying delights such as Black Christmas (1974); Krampus (2015) and its sequels; apocalyptic Christmas
comedy Silent Night (2021), and many more. Even the seemingly twee Christmas film can send chills and
invite horror – Home Alone, anyone?


So too, the collective-experience, not in the home but amongst strangers in public forums are offered
with watching the aforementioned in the cinema, or attending theatre shows such a Robert Lloyd Parry’s
“The M.R. James Project” which use the allure of a one-man show set by a fireside as a story-teller in a
wing-backed armchair recites some old favourites, or The Theatre of Dark Encounters who incorporate
ghost walks as well as shows in-theatre to seasonal delights. The horror of the life-sized Mouse King in the
traditional Nutcracker ballet based on E.T.A Hoffman’s story or the Cute Gothic of Matthew Bourne’s
ballet adaptation of Edward Scissorhands also offer interesting perspectives on what Gothic is and how it
is expressed. The mash-up of Winter/Christmas and Gothic can be further enjoyed in media and
ephemera such as board games – a staple component of the Christmas season – like Christmas Murder
Mystery and Clue: Nightmare Before Christmas Edition, while vintage postcards of children being
terrorised by the Krampus blend nostalgia and dark humour, and gothic-Christmas decorations (such as
the lights Will Byers communicates with from the Upside Down), all revel, like Jack Skellington, in the
fusion of Halloween and Christmas.


Julia Briggs writes that ‘The telling of tales around the fireside makes explicit a particular aspect of
the ghost story which depends upon a tension between the cosy familiar world of life (associated with Heim
and heimisch – home and the domestic) and the mysterious and unknowable world of death (unheimlich,
or uncanny)’ (180-1), inviting us to think about the spaces and places of Winter Gothic; often juxtaposed against the chilling and deadly atmosphere and dark nights of the “outside” which the narrator of the
“Fireside Horrors” piece insists make the conjunction of tale of terror and the winter period so ideal. In
fact, many other Gothic works use that setting of snow, ice, and long shadowy nights outside of the
Christmas period as they explore the horrors hidden in isolated arctic landscapes from Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein (1818), Dan Simmons’ 2007 novel The Terror which was adapted to television and released
in 2018 and based on a real failed expedition, Michelle Paver’s speculative ghost fiction Dark Matter
(2010), and the various stories collected in the forthcoming British Library Tales of the Weird anthology,
Polar Horrors. So too, do works such as vampire horror film 30 Days of Night (2007) which play on
meteorological phenomena such as Polar Night. Yet, what happens to, and what does Winter/Christmas
Gothic mean, in a global context and in regions where that season is hot and dry? And so, we also invite
pieces that challenge the traditional connections.

Topics that may include:
❖ Oral tales, folklore, travel writing.
❖ The “Ghost Story” and Christmas – tradition and new innovations.
❖ The space of the fireside or the campfire, or the use of candlelight (blackouts etc) in Winter Gothic
representation etc.
❖ Arctic/polar regions and terror.
❖ Specific authors, rediscovered authors as pioneers, frequenters, or unusual contributors.
❖ Anthologies, Periodicals, Magazines and other print cultures.
❖ Illustrated Winter Gothic/Christmas Gothic stories.
❖ Collaborations, serials, short-story cycles and collections.
❖ The Gothic and Religious festivals; Paganism and Winter.
❖ In global regions and nations where it falls in with hot, dry seasons.
❖ Horror/Gothic films or Television shows set at/about Christmas; Christmas specials.
❖ Adaptations of or original works of Winter / Christmas Gothic across graphic novels, radio plays,
film, television, theatre, ballet etc.
❖ Gothic Tourism such as ghost walks.
❖ Board games, video games, RPG, postcards and ephemera.
❖ Global literatures, translations, de-canonisation.
❖ Children’s literature and media.
❖ Papers which blend the creative and the critical are welcomed.
❖ Pre-formed panels are also invited.

Please send the following information to Jen Baker and Sandie Mills at talesofterrorconference@gmail.com no later than Monday 17th October 2022:
• Email subject: “Fireside Tales of Terror Abstract”;
• Abstracts of no more than 250 words;
• Brief biography (c.150 words) of the speaker(s);
• 5-8 key words.
• Whilst we hope this will predominantly be an in-person conference, we intend to offer hybrid
options for a more inclusive environment and so please indicate if you would most likely attend inperson or would prefer/need to present remotely.

Five Questions: Julia Banister on Masculinity, Militarism and Eighteenth-Century Culture

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Julia Banister is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Leeds Beckett University. She is an interdisciplinary literary scholar with particular interests in bringing literary texts together with other forms of writing and in exploring the relationship between texts and historical contexts. Her research specialisms include gender and the body; war and military service; disability studies; and travel writing. She has published on authors including William Falconer, Laurence Sterne and Jane Austen. Her monograph Masculinity, Militarism and Eighteenth-Century Culture, 1689–1815, which we discuss below, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.

1) How did you first become interested in military masculinities?

My interest began with the study of masculinity, which I can trace to studying women’s writing when I was an undergraduate. When I started my doctoral research, I turned to the study of masculinity, which was then a comparatively new field. It might seem odd now, but early scholars of masculinity (many of whom were sociologists) worried about turning the critical spotlight to men, or rather, turning it back to men: what might that mean for gender studies more broadly? Would the new focus on men undermine efforts by feminist scholars to bring to light women’s gendered experiences? The study of masculinity has since shown that we can’t really get to grips with, for example, the social performance of gender or lived experience of gender inequality, without acknowledging that masculinity is as much a construct as femininity. In my study of ‘military’ masculinity, I examine a particular construction of masculinity that is hidden in plain sight.

2) Your book covers a period stretching from the Glorious Revolution to the Battle of Waterloo.  What do you consider to be the main changes in how military men were seen over the course of this span?

We all know the cliché that the Romantic period was a time of great change, but this well-worn idea is as useful a starting point for understanding military service in the eighteenth century as it is for understanding, say, the consumer or industrial revolutions. Military historians employ the term ‘military revolution’ to describe the process of change in the way wars were fought which occurred, roughly, between 1500 and 1800. By the early eighteenth century, it was apparent to many commentators that theirs was an age of ‘modern’ warfare; the vassals of the medieval world, like the heroes of the ancient world, could be said to have put down their weapons and picked up their ploughshares as circumstances demanded, but modern wars required modern military forces. In my book, I contrast the decline of ‘old’ notions of military service as the exercise of aggression and bravery, selflessness and patriotism, with the emergence of a ‘new’, professional military man, who calculates risk, acts in accordance with (externally imposed) codes of discipline, and hopes for financial reward. It is not the case that old ideals were simply replaced by new ones, however. After all, the tussle between old and new ideas of military service was also a tussle between old and new ideas about the (physical) matter and meaning of masculinity. In other words, the stakes for the debate were much higher than they might seem.

3) Your chapters move between considerations of major debates and trials and discussions of Augustan attitudes, the Gothic, the Culture of Sensibility and nascent Romanticism.  How did you come to choose these points of focus, and how important to your design was combining perspectives from different modes, genres and social forms?

My ‘home’ discipline is literary studies, so when I started working on military masculinity I thought a lot about methodological issues for gender history, such as how gender ideals relate to lived experience, which is hard for historians to access. By studying the records of five trials of naval officers accused of wrongdoing in active service, I hoped to hear from at least some individuals about their lives and experiences. That said, the questions posed by the naval courts—about what should be expected of a senior military man—were also questions that concerned society more broadly. In my chapters, I aim to show that the answers given to those questions in a wide range of printed texts are inflected by the values and commitments which characterise phases or periods, such as the culture of sensibility.

4) What do you think that a renewed attention to military contexts might help us see in Romantic-period literature?

The study of military matters has traditionally been the preserve of military historians, but in the last two decades literature scholars have really taken on war and militarism as subjects. Romanticists have been at the forefront of this, and so it is right to be asking ‘what next’. The close connection between the core decades of the Romantic period and two decades of conspicuous, wide-spread warfare means that scholars of Romantic-period literature are particularly well placed when it comes to uncovering new connections between war and culture. In addition, the complexity of the wars in this period means that we should keep looking at texts we know well. For example, in my book, I write about Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Captain Wentworth is not just a generically ‘military’ character; as a sailor in the Napoleonic Wars, he has had particular military experiences, which reinforce his particular understanding of his military role, notably his interest in financial reward. Looked at in this way, Persuasion is not simply ‘about’ the military; rather, the novel intervenes in debates about the military that were current in the period.

5) What new projects are you currently working on?

I’m sticking with the military. My interests in masculinity, gender and the body remain important to me, but my current work is focused on the relationship between the military and one of the most characteristic, and controversial, literary genres of the eighteenth century and Romantic period: the gothic. Like my first book, my new project on military gothic covers the long eighteenth century, but the new project has a narrower, or rather deeper, focus on traditionally ‘literary’ texts. It may sound contradictory, but I think there’s a direct relationship between my enthusiasm for interdisciplinary study and my turn to literary genre. To think about this new project in terms of the broader context, it is hard for those of us working in universities in the UK not to be aware that the value of the humanities is, increasingly, a matter of politicised public debate, and so it also seems to me that this is a very good time to celebrate our discipline.