Five Questions: Porscha Fermanis on Romantic Pasts

By Matthew Sangster

Porscha Fermanis is Professor of Romantic Literature at University College Dublin. Her research interests include Romantic poetry and poetics; the relationship between Romanticism and Enlightenment; history and historiography; nineteenth-century colonial material culture; global Romanticisms; and the history of globalisation. She is the Principal Investigator of the European Research Council-funded SouthHem project. Her recent books include Romanticism: A Literary and Cultural History (Routledge, 2016; with Carmen Casaliggi), Early Public Libraries and Colonial Citizenship in the British Southern Hemisphere (Palgrave, 2019; with Lara Atkin et al) and Worlding the South: Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture and the Southern Settler Colonies (Manchester University Press, 2021; ed. with Sarah Comyn). Her latest book, Romantic Pasts: History, Fiction and Feeling in Britain, 1790-1850, which we discuss below, has just been published by Edinburgh University Press.

1) How did you first become interested in what your introduction describes as ‘the complex relationship between feeling and the making of the modern historical method’?

I’ve been interested in historiography for what seems like a long time now, dating back to my 2009 book on Keats and extending to a co-edited collection on Romantic-era history in 2014 (with John Regan). …read more