The BARS Review, No. 56 (Spring 2021)

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J.M.W. Turner, Florence, from San Miniato; the city viewed from the roof of a house, in the foreground a group of figures, fruit trees at l, and cypresses beyond them, two bridges in the mid-distance. c.1828 watercolour, touched with bodycolour. © The Trustees of the British Museum. Reproduction used under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

We are glad to announce the publication of the most recent issue of The BARS Review (No. 56, Spring 2021). The issue contains a total of ten reviews of recent scholarly work within the field of Romanticism, broadly conceived, covering thirteen works. Five of the reviews compromise a ‘spotlight’ section on ‘Romantic Travels and Trajectories’.

The individual reviews are detailed below; as always, all reviews are openly available in html and .pdf through The BARS Review website, and a compilation of all the reviews in the number can be downloaded as a .pdf.

If you have comments on the new number, or on the Review in general, we’d be very grateful for any feedback that would allow us to improve the site or its content. Mark Sandy would also be very happy to hear from people who would like to review for BARS.

The pandemic has slowed review processes and publication recently, but the next two issues should follow this one fairly swiftly to bring us back up to date.

Editor: Mark Sandy (Durham University)
General Editor: Anthony Mandal (Cardiff University)
Technical Editor: Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow)


1) Ben P. Robertson on Andrew O. Winckles, Eighteenth-Century Women’s Writing and the Methodist Media Revolution: ‘Consider the Lord as Ever Present Reader’. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2019 and Joseph Morrissey, Women’s Domestic Activity in the Romantic-Period Novel, 1770-1820: Dangerous Occupations. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
2) Jonathan Cutmore on Michael E. Robinson, The Queer Bookishness of Romanticism. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2021 and Shayne Husbands, The Early Roxburghe Club 1812-1835: Book Club Pioneers and the Advancement of English Literature. London and New York: Anthem Press, 2017.
3) Nowell Marshall on Dale Townshend and Angela Wright, eds., The Cambridge History of the Gothic: Volume II. Gothic in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020.
4) Claire Sheridan on Gordon Bannerman, Kenneth Baxter, Daniel Cook and Matthew Jarron, Creatures of Fancy – Mary Shelley in Dundee. Dundee: Abertay Historical Society, 2019.
5) Pauline Hortolland on Michael Demson and Regina Hewitt, eds., Commemorating Peterloo: Violence, Resilience and Claim-making during the Romantic Era. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019.

Romantic Travels and Trajectories

6) Diego Saglia on Agustín Coletes Blanco y Alicia Laspra Rodríguez, Romántico país: poesía inglesa del trienio liberal. Estudio crítico y corpus bilingüe anotado. Salamanca: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Salamanca, 2019 and Robert Southey, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, ed. by Jonathan Gonzalez and Cristina Flores. London and New York: Routledge, 2021.
7) Lucy Cogan on Tilottama Rajan and Joel Faflak, eds., William Blake: Modernity and Disaster. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020.
8) José Ruiz Mas on Keith Crook, The Imprisoned Traveler: Joseph Forsyth and Napoleon’s Italy. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2019.
9) Jerónimo Ledesma on Monika Coghen and Anna Paluchowska-Messing, eds., Romantic Dialogues and Afterlives. Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press, 2021.
10) Chloe Wilcox on Essaka Joshua, Physical Disability in British Romantic Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (PhD Studentship)

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Celestial Machines: 

Caroline Herschel, Astronomical Notebooks and the Material Culture of Predigital Communication Systems

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership; PhD Studentship, three years, fees + living expenses

Durham University, Department of Philosophy, UK

Deadline: 1 April 2022

This PhD studentship is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is a collaboration between Durham University Department of Philosophy and the Library of the Royal Society of London.  The successful candidate will write a PhD thesis that focuses on the scientific manuscripts of Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), one of the first women to publish articles in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and to be a professional astronomer.  It will investigate how she used astronomical notebooks as paper machines; that is, as interactive information management devices that helped her interface with scientific instruments and various forms of predigital communications media. 

Rather than solely attributing the origins of Herschel’s data management devices to elite, and manifestly male, universities and scholarly societies, the project seeks to highlight how her methods originated from her own ingenuity, her early years as a musician, and her role as manager of the Herschel household.  It also examines the important role played by women in early scientific notekeeping as well as the influence of domestic science upon the rise of realtime technologies. In following this path, the project will extend our understanding of how Herschel played an essential role in developing the data management techniques that were used in the manuscript world of astronomy and celestial mechanics during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The successful candidate will be based Durham University Department of Philosophy and spend time researching in the Library of the Royal Society of London.  Further information about the funds provided by the AHRC CPD PhD award click here.

Applications will start to be reviewed on 1 April 2022.

If you have questions, please contact Prof Matthew Daniel Eddy (

2022 Conference ‘Windows on the Burneys’

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This conference corresponds with the twentieth anniversary of the unveiling of the stained-glass window to commemorate Frances Burney in Westminster Abbey. A President’s Prize of £200 will be awarded by Prof Peter Sabor for a postgraduate/early career paper. You are welcome to join us for one, two or three days, as set out below, or solely for the member events, including Sunday lunch at Alton House Hotel on Sunday 12 June. 

Venues: 11 June at Foundling Museum London  – 12 June at Alton House Hotel, Alton  – 13 June at St Bride Foundation London 

Registration including  lunch:  £130 for all 3 days; £100 for 2 days; £70 for 1 day with a 50% reduction for Students/Precariously employed

Please note: Given these uncertain times registration fees will be refundable until 1 May 2022, upon request, less any administration fees. 

The Call for Papers is now open. Application is by the ‘Paper Proposal’ form attached below and downloadable from our website. Closing date 1 April 2022, Feedback by 14 April 2022.  We accept proposals from Burney Society members and non-members but all speakers and delegates should be members. UK membership subscriptions taken out from now  will be valid until 12 June 2023 to facilitate joining in good time for the conference.

Provisional Schedule

Saturday 11th June at The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1 AZ

10:00 for 10:15 start: 2022 AGM – which is free to all, including light refreshments. Please pre-book for the AGM on the attached registration form. 

Break with light refreshments and opportunity to visit the museum at no additional charge. 

12:00 – 13:00 (approximate timings) ‘Windows on the Burneys’ Conference opens with Keynote by Burney Society UK President, Prof Peter Sabor.

13:00 – 14:00 Light lunch and further opportunity to explore the museum and Brunswick Square Gardens. 

14:00 – 17:00 Conference panels, including refreshment break.  

Sunday 12th June, Jane Austen Suite, Alton House Hotel, 57 Normandy St., Alton, Hampshire GU34 1DW 

Location: This hotel is within 1 minute walk of Alton mainline station, with a direct train service from London, Waterloo. It also has a large car park which is free to delegates and guests. Dedicated entrance to Jane Austen Suite is to the rear but you will need to log your car Reg number in at reception. Times are approximate as they will be adjusted to fit train times.

10:00 – 10:15 Light refreshments 

10:15 – 13:15 Conference panels.

13:15 – 14:15  Conference lunch – included for delegates. Members who are not attending the conference are very welcome to join us for lunch at a cost of £25, pre-paid via registration.   

14:15 – 15:00 Optional walk along the Alton section of Jane Austen Trail towards Chawton House. We plan to organise lifts to Chawton House, either from the hotel, or from the Chawton side of the A31 pedestrian underpass for those unwilling/unable to walk. 

15:00 Unveiling of Frances Burney bench and reception at Chawton House, to which all members are welcome.

15:30  Pre-booked group ‘self-guided’ house tour. The curator has agreed that in addition to their current exhibition, she will also mount a small display of Burney related materials for us. 

The bench unveiling and reception are free to members but if you wish to tour the house, Chawton House will charge £10 for a day pass or £15 for an annual pass. There are concessionary prices for students, those under 26, Art Pass members and the disabled and their carers. 

Places for both the unveiling and house tour need to be booked via the registration form even if these are the only events you plan to attend, as Chawton House requires numbers in advance. 

Monday 13 June 2022 at St Bride Foundation, Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8EQ 

St Bride Foundation houses the important catalogue listing with Simon Macdonald used to confirm Elizabeth Meeke as a Burney. 

10:00 – 13:00 Conference Panels and presentation of President’s Award.

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch and depart St Bride Foundation

14:00 – 17:00 Optional visits eg. to St Bride Church

17:00 Evensong in Westminster Abbey followed by laying of wreath at window dedicated to Frances Burney in Poet’s corner. Doors open at 16:30 and we hope to be able to view the plaque dedicated to Dr Charles Burney and the bust of Charles Burney Jr., although this may not be possible.

Places to attend the wreath laying are free to members but may be very limited, depending on the current Covid-19 measures, so please book your place as soon as possible via the registration form. Places will be allocated in order of registration.  We will advise you whether or not you have a place for the wreath laying ceremony when we are notified by Westminster Abbey of the numbers we will be allowed. 

Please note: Westminster Abbey is closed to tours from 15.30 on Monday 13th June, to prepare for Evensong,  but you may wish to book your own tour on another day.  

Post -conference visits 

Wednesday 15th June or Saturday 18th June (tbc) : 14:00 Tour of Hammerwood Park, West Sussex, a Georgian House and Gardens with connections to the Burney family to include their historic music collection, Coade plaques and restored  eighteenth-century gardens. 

16:00 Sonata written by Dr Charles Burney and played by renowned country house music academic Dr Penelope Cave LRAM GRSM ARAM PhD, FISM PhD on a historical instrument in Hammerwood Park music room.

Hammerwood Park in West Sussex, is an eighteenth-century stately home, designed by the architect Benjamin Latrobe, a member of the Burney circle, who later emigrated to North America and designed parts of the White House. Hammerwood Park is the home of a historic instrument collection and the tour of the house and gardens will be followed by a concert, 

Thursday 16 June (tbc) : Weymouth and Dorchester. In 1789 Frances Burney accompanied Queen Charlotte to Weymouth. This visit is celebrated in a stunning extra-illustrated book by Alexander Meyrick Broadley, currently stored in Dorchester, which we hope to include in our visit.   Details will be made available closer to the date. 

We have not included any provision for accommodation in these plans but would be happy to make suggestions upon request. 

Any questions? Please email

We appreciate that it is difficult to fully commit in these uncertain times so we have decided that registration fees paid will be refundable on request, less any  administrative fees, until the 1st May. 

CFP: The Romantic Cliché (1798-1830)

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International Conference
19-20 May 2022, Université de Paris

Keynote speaker : Pr Nicholas Halmi, University of Oxford

The aim of this conference is to identify various Romantic-period clichés and to analyse how they were built and played with. This will lead us to question the construction of a so-called Romantic identity in literary criticism, but also more generally in collective representations.

The word “cliché” was coined in the 19th century and originally referred to a stereotype block that could reproduce types or images repeatedly. The word now characterises “a phrase or expression regarded as unoriginal or trite due to overuse” (OED). Alternatives to the term “cliché” include words such as “commonplace” and “topos”. Any trope, image, figure, and theme can potentially become a cliché. This very intricate concept raises the issue of artistic originality both in terms of literary creation and of reception. This conference stems from the observation that clichés are often easily identified, but rarely examined under a critical lens. When and how does a phrase, an image, a theme, or a figure become a cliché? Is repetition enough to transform a trope into a cliché, as suggested by its etymological root? As writers of the Romantic period rarely used this word, one of the aims of this conference is also to translate it into the critical and poetical language of that time.

In many countries, Romanticism is nowadays often associated with popular sentimental images and figures which distort and impoverish its original contents, turning for instance the concept of absolute love in Novalis’ works into a symbol of mawkishness (“fleur bleue”, in French). The cliché is thus both an effacing of meaning through repetition and a reduction or a parody, which raises issues of reception. Among other possible approaches, this could spur our delegates to examine the ideological implications of turning Romanticism into a cliché. For instance, to what extent did T.S. Eliot’s desire to turn Percy Shelley’s political stance in his earlier utopian poems into a cliché participate in a more general attempt to define literature outside of the realm of politics? Indeed, the concept of the “cliché” has often been used as a weapon by later authors and critics to downplay the subversive dimension of Romantic literature and to define it as an outworn paradigm. This phenomenon was already under way during the Romantic period – for instance, John Keats was often charged with Cockney sentimentality by Tory reviewers, exposing the complex connections between cliché, taste,
and class. In Germany, many features of Romanticism which were conceptualized by Charles de Villers and Madame de Staël at the beginning of the 19th century, were associated to spirituality and led to the juxtaposition of Romanticism and idealism, creating an ethereal German Romantic identity. This construction proves particularly enduring, although Novalis underlines in his works the importance of the body and reflects in his fragments on the implications of transcendental medicine.

However, the concept of the cliché can also be useful to analyse the way Romantic writers defined literary creation. One could say that Wordsworth, in the ‘Preface’ to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads, aims to forsake the clichés of 18th -century poetic diction. Percy Shelley, in A Defence of Poetry (§3), defines poetic art as a way to revitalize dead metaphors, that is, commonplaces and clichés. In Don Juan, Byron repurposes the cliché of Don Juan as an active seducer, turning him into a prey for women. Yet, to what extent is this conception of literary creation a modernistic cliché that we retrospectively apply to the Romantic period?

Romantic writers also gained mastery over these clichés by playing with them, sometimes unwittingly reinforcing them – Percy Shelley, for instance, in ‘Letter to Maria Gisborne’ plays with the cliché of the evil Romantic poet by describing himself as an “Archimago”, and largely contributed with Adonais to the construction of the cliché of the frail, feminised Romantic poet.

In France, Romanticism is often reduced to the post-1830 cliché of Mussetian sentimentalism, which Flaubert notoriously debunked in Madame Bovary, thus distorting and obscuring the legacy of other French Romantic writers such as Lamartine or Vigny. Reflecting on the concept of the Romantic cliché from a French perspective is therefore a way to underline how French Romanticism was adulterated and deformed by later conservative writers and by the appearance of a new paradigm of reading which derides the ambition of Romantic writers to
philosophize. Finally, moving on to an often less studied linguistic area, one cannot but notice the complexity of the appropriation of Romanticism in 19th-century Danish literature. For instance, in Jens Peter Jacobsen’s novel Niels Lyhne (1880), Romanticism is both conjured up as a source of evocative images and ironically rejected. The eponymous character uses his Romantic clothing as a means of seduction which he can nonetheless abandon instantly. These examples underscore the complexity of the construction of the so-called Romantic
identity. Accordingly, we intend our conference to be cliché-ridden in the widest possible sense:

  • cliché, repetition and Romantic irony
  • cliché and tribute
  • cliché, artistic originality and Romantic genius
  • cliché as ideological debunking of Romanticism
  • genealogy / cartography of the Romantic cliché

The conference falls within the scope of comparative studies and we hope this will enable us to compare diverse receptions of Romanticism. We welcome panoramic proposals as well as proposals addressing a specific linguistic area (British, Irish, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Scandinavian Romanticisms…).

Please submit abstracts of 300 to 500 words to Pauline Hortolland and Florence Schnebelen: ;
Deadline: 30 March 2022

CFP: Victorian Literary Languages

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The AHRC-funded ‘Victorian Literary Languages’ network aims to bring together research across literary studies, historical linguistics, Irish studies, Scottish studies, Welsh studies, periodical studies, digital humanities and cultural history. Trialling an innovative take towards research, participants are encouraged to develop new ideas through a range of activities, including interactive sessions using archives, corpora, or digital humanities tools; short research statements and provocations; collaborative writing sessions; and roundtable discussion. We are also pleased to announce that there will be a publishing opportunity made available through a special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century.  

The first of three workshops will be held in St Andrews on 26th & 27th May and will focus specifically on the connections between nineteenth-century literature and grammar, lexicography, and philology. We invite you to consider the following: 

How might critical perspectives on Victorian literature and its canons change when we take full account of the Victorian United Kingdom’s four nations, four languages (English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Gaelic), and 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 the linguistic and literary histories of Victorian Britain and Ireland? To answer these questions, the network will bring together scholars from a range of backgrounds and disciplines (including literature, linguistics, and history), who, by sharing their diverse expertise and perspectives, will develop an innovative, multilingual approach to the study of Victorian literature and culture. 

If you are interested in being involved in the network’s discussions please email your name, institutional affiliation(s) (if applicable), and a description of your research and your intended contribution (250 words) by 7th March to Further information about the network can be found on its website. Please note, the network is co-ordinated by Dr Gregory Tate (University of St Andrews) and Dr Karin Koehler (Bangor University.) If you have any further questions, including funds regarding travel arrangements, please email for more information. 

CFP: Studies in English Literature (SEL) special issue: “Nineteenth-Century Neologisms”

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We invite proposals for contributions to a Studies in English Literature (SEL) special issue on “Nineteenth-Century Neologisms.” The genesis for this special issue was a 2022 MLA special session panel on “Romantic Neologisms” that generated considerable interest. 

The special issue aims to focus on understudied Romantic and Victorian coinages to prioritize the cultural and aesthetic politics of the nineteenth century’s lexical richness. We also eagerly welcome essays that take a non-Anglophone, or translocal, or non-national  approach. Our vision for the issue is inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s dream of a new Greek lexicon, combining English, German, French, and Latin terms to better capture human experience as well as by  Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s attempt to reflect unparalleled historical change in his creation of a new language in Neology: or Vocabulary of Words that are New or Renewed (1801). Writ large, the special issue will reflect interwoven historical and philosophical developments as Anglophone and non-Anglophone C19 writers demonstrate how, in unprecedented times, new words are required. 

Please send 2-page CVs with 350-word abstracts by February 28, 2022 for ~5000-word papers to and Note that the 5K word limit is set by Johns Hopkins UP and likely cannot be exceeded. Full drafts due for editorial review January 2023. Pending positive external peer review, papers will be published in 2023 in Studies in English Literature for SEL’s autumn 1800-1900 issue. 

CFP: Reading John Keats – Words, Texts, Themes, Contexts

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Presented by the Trustees of the Keats Foundation, and hosted at Keats House Hampstead

A Three-Day Keats Foundation Conference at Keats House, Hampstead, London

Friday 20 May  – Sunday 22 May 2022

Keynote Speakers: Simon Bainbridge and Anna Mercer

Confirmed Speakers: John Barnard, Kelvin Everest

The Trustees of the Keats Foundation  invite proposals for 20-minute papers for presentation at the 2022 John Keats Conference. Our conference theme, Reading John Keats: Words, Texts, Themes, Contexts, has been pitched as broadly as possible to ensure that papers reflecting  the full range  of current Keats studies can be accommodated. Please email a paper proposal of 200-250 words, with a title and outline of your proposed presentation, to to arrive by Monday 28 March  at 12 noon UK time.  For obvious reasons, all papers should have a significant Keats dimension.  

Acceptances will have been issued by 12 noon UK time on Friday 1 April 2022, when registration will open.

Please bear in mind that if your paper is accepted for presentation you  should plan to attend for all or most of the conference programme.

Our aim has been to keep the registration process as simple as is practically possible. The registration fees set out below are estimates based on the (cancelled) 2020 conference and are unlikely to change much when registration opens; registration covers administrative overheads, teas, coffees, wine reception and so on, for the duration of the conference.

To undergraduate and postgraduate students and unwaged we offer a concession fee. Except for the Conference Dinner on Saturday 21 May, meals during the conference are not covered by the conference fee. Overnight accommodation during the conference is wholly at the discretion of participants.

If you have significant funding deadlines please alert us to these.


Registration fees are as follows for the 2022 conference:

For participants  who are not yet Keats Foundation supporters in year 2022-23: £160, which includes a one-year introductory Supporter’s subscription to the Keats Foundation for the year 2022-23.

For existing Keats Foundation supporters in year 2022-23: £135 per person.

These fees include the Conference dinner on Saturday 21 May.    

For undergraduates, postgraduates, and unwaged, we offer concessionary rates:

For undergraduate, postgraduate, and unwaged participants who are not yet Keats Foundation supporters in year 2022-23: £95, which includes a one-year  Supporter’s subscription to the Keats Foundation for the year 2022-23.

For undergraduate, postgraduate, and unwaged participants who are existing Keats Foundation supporters in year 2022-23: £70 per person.

These fees include the Conference dinner on Saturday 21 May.  

Day rates will be available, and these will not include the Conference dinner. Details about day rates will be made available after registration opens.

Full details about how to become a Keats Foundation supporter now can be found here.

Bio/Bibliographical Research Opportunity

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The online Jackson Bibliography of Romantic Poetry ( aka BRP) is now inviting users to submit biographical headnotes of up to 400 words for authors who do not already have them. Applicants will be sent detailed guidelines for the content and style of their entries and in return for suitable copy will receive peer review, copy-editing, prompt publication, and acknowledgement in the form of their initials at the end of the entry and their names included in the List of Contributors.

This online bibliography, now an essential resource for the study of English-language verse publications in the Romantic Period, was created by J. R. de J. Jackson of Victoria College in the University of Toronto and has been evolving steadily since its first appearance as a chronological list of titles, Annals of English Verse 1770-1835, in 1985. The goal was to break away from repetitive literary history with its emphasis on a few names in order to look afresh at all the original, new poetry published in book form from 1770 to 1835–in short, at “Romantic” poetry proper, apart from reprintings of earlier verse and from all prose forms. With Romantic Poetry by Women 1770-1835 (1993), Jackson took a closer look at a subset of the original list, made it transatlantic (not narrowly British), and found he could double the number of known women poets. In this book for the first time he aimed at first-hand examination of every title and–since nearly all his  authors were ignored by literary histories–provided a short biographical headnote for each writer. Then in 2006, building on the principles established in RPW, he launched the first version of a database supported by and housed at the University of Toronto Library. Work on the database continued after his death in 2011, the checking of entries and examination of copies being undertaken by Heather Jackson (HJ) and Sharon Ragaz (SR). When it was relaunched on a new platform with enhanced searchability in 2020, it consisted of 23,000 book records representing the work of over 5000 named authors, more than 800 of whom are women. Biographical headnotes were included for the first time for all authors whose books were published in Scotland, Ireland, and North America, and for a gradually increasing number of the remaining authors (those who published in England, Wales, and other parts of the world). Given that the geographical criterion is place of publication, not citizenship or nationality, most of the major literary figures of the period now have headnotes. In this work SR and HJ were joined by Andrew Ashfield (AA).

With its comprehensiveness, first-hand authority, and flexibility in search functions, the bibliography is a potential goldmine for studies in Romanticism (especially for minor authors and recovery projects) and Book History. We continue to labour to improve it and welcome suggestions through our Contact Us tab. With our current invitation we hope to speed up the completion of the headnotes phase of development and to provide hands-on experience leading to a publication credit in exchange for a small commitment of time.

Please contact:

Heather Jackson

Sharon Ragaz    

Stephen Copley Research Report: Amanda Blake Davis on Percy Bysshe Shelley c.1817

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Here we have the latest report from Amanda Blake Davis, the most recent winner of the Stephen Copley research awards, for more information about how to apply, please see here.

In December 2021, I was grateful for the opportunity to return to the Bodleian Library in Oxford thanks to the support of a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award.

This research trip, much-delayed by the ongoing pandemic, was originally conceived in the summer of 2020 during conversations with Professor Jerrold E. Hogle for Jonathan Mulrooney and Emily Rohrbach’s ‘Romanticism in the Meantime’ series of online interviews and discussions. My interview with Professor Hogle on ‘Shelley’s Platonic Subtlety’ drew attention to Shelley’s translations of Plato beyond his crucial 1818 translation of the Symposium. I have previously written on Shelley’s translation of the Symposium and its significance to the Shelleys for BARS, [], and my doctoral thesis, Shelley and Androgyny, traces a line of enquiry between the Symposium and androgynous language and images in Shelley’s poetry and poetical writings. In the summer of 2020, my interest in Shelley’s translations of Plato beyond the Symposium began to centre upon the Menexenus, which Shelley made a partial translation of in 1817.

Motivated by my interest in Shelley’s 1817 translation of the Menexenus, my visit to the Bodleian centred upon Shelley’s compositions c.1817, and expanded beyond the poet’s readings and translations of Plato to include my current project as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Derby where I am working on Shelley’s manuscript drawings of trees and poetical depictions of trees and botanical figures. The Bodleian holds the world’s most significant Shelley archive, and the invaluable 23-volume facsimile Bodleian Shelley Manuscripts were also readily accessible alongside the manuscript notebooks I had arranged to consult. In particular, Nancy Moore Goslee’s editorial commentary on MS. Shelley adds. e. 12 in volume 18 of the Bodleian Shelley Manuscripts directed attention to Shelley’s drawings of trees and their representation of his compositional process in this notebook. Goslee writes: ‘A full-page sketch on 203 seems to comment on the double directions of the notebook—two clumps of trees mirror one another, as if in an unseen lake’ (p. liii).[i] The major aims of my postdoctoral project are to explore and identify the presence and influence of real, living trees on Shelley’s poetry, and to examine how manuscript drawings of trees and other botanical figures act as intermediaries in Shelley’s compositional process.

(c) Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

An example of tree drawings in Shelley’s Laon and Cythna manuscripts, CMD 6231 [Uncatalogued Harcourt Additional Papers box 11/1], now MS. Eng. c. 7978, fol. 53. Image source: Shelley’s Ghost 2012 exhibition at the Bodleian Library, now archived by the WayBack Machine.

Two manuscript notebooks in particular were immensely useful to my research during this visit: MS. Shelley e. 4 and MS. Shelley adds. e. 16. Notably, both are landscape notebooks, and although drawings and sketches appear throughout Shelley’s manuscripts, there is a visual immediacy to these notebooks that is fostered by their landscape formats. The back pastedown of MS. e. 4 features an elaborate, full-page landscape drawing that appears to visually depict the final canto of Laon and Cythna (1817), where the eponymous pair sail across a lake, approaching the celestial Temple of the Spirit. Although manuscript material for Laon and Cythna does not appear in the extant pages of this notebook, ‘The Revolt of Islam’, Shelley’s revised title for Laon and Cythna, emerges amidst cancelled lines of ‘Ozymandias’ on the preceding page (folio 85v), suggesting the poem’s presence in Shelley’s mind at this time. The lines ‘Our bark hung there, as on a line suspended / Between two heavens, that windless waveless lake’ (12.40.356-357) seems to be visually imagined on this landscape page,[ii] where an island populated with a diverse array of trees shelters a celestial temple, overlooked by a mountain range. Being able to consult the original manuscripts revealed intricate details in this drawing and in others, such as the way in which the hanging branches of a willow tree are subtly reflected in the water of the lake, mirroring Laon and Cythna’s penultimate stanza’s emphasis upon intermediacy. I would like to extend my thanks to BARS, and to the Bodleian, for this most useful visit.

Amanda Blake Davis is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Derby, Honorary Research Fellow in the School of English at the University of Sheffield, and a Postgraduate Representative for BARS. Follow her on Twitter at @ABDavis1816

[i] Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Bodleian Shelley Manuscripts, gen. ed. Donald H. Reiman, 23 vols to date (New York, NY: Garland and Routledge, 1986-), vol. 18: The Homeric Hymns and ‘Prometheus’ Draft Notebook, Bodleian MS. Shelley adds. e. 12, ed. Nancy Moore Goslee.

[ii] Percy Bysshe Shelley, Laon and Cythna; or, The Revolution of the Golden City: A Vision of the Nineteenth Century. In the Stanza of Spenser quoted in The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Michael J. Neth, gen. eds. Donald H. Reiman, Neil Fraistat, and Nora Crook, 4 vols to date (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000-), vol. 3.

Digital Burns Night II Recording

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For anybody who missed our Digital Burns Night II event last week – you can now catch up on the evening of poetry and merriment on the official BARS Youtube channel. Listen to Andrew McInnes (Edge Hill University), Jennifer Orr (Newcastle University), Gerard McKeever (University of Stirling), Rita Dashwood (Edge Hill University), Zayneb Allak (Edge Hill University), Ainsley McIntosh (Independent scholar), and Angela Wright (University of Sheffield) and don’t forget to subscribe and check out the other videos on our channel available here.