Thursday, 22 November 2012

Calls for papers: a weekly round up

The Romantic Medium: Language and Lexicon
30th May 2013, University of Oxford

“The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible / Of that eternal language, which thy God / Utters”
                                                                                                  (Coleridge, Frost at Midnight, 59-61)

“the reason why I dislike it is that it does not describe the feelings of a rhyming peasant strongly or locally enough…”
                                                                                           (John Clare, manuscript marginalia 1821)

“Through sad incompetence of human speech”
                                                                                                      (Wordsworth, The Prelude (1850)


Stephen Gill (Lincoln College, Oxford) and Michael O’Neill (University of Durham)

The Oxford Romanticism Conference will seek to bring together academics and postgraduate students in a one-day event for discussion of the current study of 'The Romantic Medium: Language and Lexicon'. The conference takes its lead from the Romantic Realignments Seminars held weekly in Oxford and willseek to reflect advances in the past decade of Romantic scholarship. Language is to be considered in a broad sense, incorporating topics on genre to metaphor, translation to soundscape, through an awareness of the plurality of languages at play.

The Conference will be structured around three main branches of criticism—a historical approach to vocabulary and the nature of material text; theoretical approaches dealing with questions about the kind of medium language is and how it functions; and finally close readings exploring what Romantic writers were doing with language. The goal of the Conference is to unite what have historically been three separate critical approaches to the study of language in the period. We hope that in hosting this conference, these approaches can be viewed side by side and we can begin to assess Romanticism from a broader and more unified perspective.

Particularly welcome will be those papers considering the relationship between language and political and historical context, the failure of language as a medium, and how the tussle between primitive or vulgar and civilised or cultured language has characterised the new study of Romantic language.
Topics may include but are not limited to:

· Bibliography and/or Romantic vocabulary

· Language as a medium

· Metaphor, allegory and rhetoric

· Inadequacy of language an inarticulacy; need for language borrowed from other spheres

· Post-Romantic (Victorian, Modern, Post-Modern) appreciation and usage of Romantic language, including responses against Romanticism

· 'English Grammar''

· High/low, poetic/rustic, primitive/cultured language and what these constitute

· Classical and foreign influences on Romantic language

· Purity/chastity of language

· Musicality of language

· Linguistic authority

We welcome also other interpretations of the conference theme.

Oxford University invites submission of 200 word abstracts to be sent, with name, address and affiliation,
to The deadline for submission is 15th December 2012.

Transgression, Trespassing and Taboos in the Long-Nineteenth Century Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference, Cardiff University, 10 April 2013

The long-nineteenth century (1789-1914) is a unique period for the study of transgression, and the multiplicity of genres and media in the long-nineteenth century emphasises the need to approach this period from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Capitalising upon current trends in historiography and literary studies, this one-day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference is organised by the School of English, Communication and Philosophy (ENCAP), and the School of History, Archaeology and Religion (SHARE). The conference will feature papers by postgraduate research students from multiple academic disciplines, reflecting current research trends and demonstrating the value of sharing expertise from different disciplines to further understanding in this area.

The confirmed keynote addresses will be given by Dr Harry Cocks (Nottingham) and Dr Heather Worthington (Cardiff).

We welcome papers from Postgraduate Researchers in English Literature, History, and other related fields. Abstracts of up to 300 words for 20 minute papers and a one-page CV should be sent to no later than Friday 21 December 2012. The full call for papers can be found here.

'Global Romanticism': Romantic Studies Association of Australasia biennial conference University of Sydney, 3-5 July 2013

Much of the recent scholarly activity in the area of Romantic studies has concentrated on ‘the four nations’: England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The second biennial conference of the antipodean Romantic Studies Association of Australasia would like to turn that on its head and to ask, again, about British Romanticism’s engagement with the rest of the world, and about the rest of the world’s engagement with British Romanticism. In the past twenty years, scholars like those who have agreed to share their thoughts and findings in keynote lectures at this conference have established the fact that Romanticism and the Romantic period need to be understood in global terms. Far from being a merely national or even European phenomenon, Romanticism – or the cluster of ideas and cultural forms and the structures of feeling associated with Romanticism – is shot through with the experience and imagination of the Americas, including the recently United States with whom Britain was briefly at war; of Africa, north, south, and central; of Russia and the Ottoman empire; of Persia, India, China and the far east; of the penal colony of New South Wales and beyond that the Pacific and its islands. Again, as with our first biennial conference on Romanticism and the Tyranny of Distance, we are inviting scholars from all over the globe to use the historical distance of the twenty first century and the geographical and cultural distance of the Great South Land to reconceptualise and remap the geographical and cultural field of Romantic studies. We encourage submissions covering the fullest possible range of meanings of ‘global Romanticism’ – including but not limited to

• Romantic exploration, real and imagined: ‘We were the first, that ever burst, into that silent sea’

• Romantic places, real and imagined: imaging the exotic and the remote in art and literature

• Romantic cosmopolitanism

• Romanticism, empire, and informal empire

• The globe writes back: Romantic correspondence

• The globe writes back: the global interpretation of British Romanticism, then and since

• The world as subject: colonialism

• The world as specimen: colonies of knowledge

• The world as convert: missionary activity

• The world as convict: penal colonies

• Expanding the canon: foreign literature in translation

• Trading goods: company ships, country ships, and pirates

• Trading places: transportation, migration, settlement, and repatriation

• Trading forms: the global circulation of literature, music and art

• Trading people: slavery and the slave trade

• ‘Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red’: Romanticism and race

Scholars interested in proposing 20-minute papers, or full panels of three speakers and a chair, should submitabstracts of between 250 and 400 words and a 150-word bio by 28 February 2013 through the RSAA’s website. For further enquiries, please contact Will Christie or Angie Dunstan.

Gendering the Book
University of Leeds, 13 July 2013

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers for Gendering the Book, a one-day conference to be held at the University of Leeds on 13 July 2013. The conference will close with a keynote address from Professor Richard Cronin (University of Glasgow).

This conference aims to connect recent scholarship in the areas of book-history and material culture to work on Romantic constructions of masculinity and femininity by considering how men and women in the long eighteenth century imagined their relationship to textual objects. How did cultures of production, consumption, and exchange contribute to the construction of gendered identities? Did these practices and identities change over time, and how far was the book itself a gendered object?
Topics might include, but are not limited to:

· Gift books, anthologies, miscellanies, and collected works
· Men and Women of Letters
· Circulation, conversation, and communities
· Book-history and the book-as-object
· Textual production and consumption
· Authorial identity

Please send abstracts of 250 words and any other queries to Cassie Ulph and Alys Mostyn at Deadline for submissions: 1 March 2013.

'Yorkshire Tourism': one-day workshop

Members may be interested in attending this one-day workshop, entitled 'Yorkshire Tourism', on the practice and representation of tourist travel in Yorkshire in the long eighteenth century. The workshop will take place on Saturday 8 December 2012 at the University of York's Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, King's Manor, York.

Travel for pleasure or health in Britain and Ireland first became widely available to the affluent middling classes in the eighteenth century. For much of the period 1700-1830 Britain was at war with at least one of its continental neighbours; possibilities for European travel were severely restricted, and tourism within Britain and Ireland flourished. What did this newly accessible and eagerly grasped freedom to roam mean to the domestic tourist; how did the pictorial and/ or textual representation of journeys or sites shape their sense of themselves or of the country in the crucial period of its transition to becoming a modern and united kingdom?

The workshop is a follow-up to last year's successful event, The Grand Tour in Britain and Ireland. Each speaker will consider an image or series of images, a short text or extracts from a longer piece, and offer a brief exploration of the possibilities of this material before opening the floor to discussion.

Confirmed speakers include:
Ann-Marie Akehurst (York), 'Broken stones, decayed buildings, and old rubbish': genealogy of place, imagination, and identity in early modern York(shire)';

John Bonehill (Glasgow), 'Fairfaxiana: J.M.W Turner at Farnley';

Oliver Cox (Oxford), 'Back in the summer of (17)69: domestic tourism and the Yorkshire Petition';

Mary Fairclough (York), 'Infidel Missionaries: Robert Taylor and Richard Carlile in Leeds';

Harriet Guest (York), 'A Trip to Scarborough';

David Higgins (Leeds), 'The Wordworths visit Yorkshire';

Emma Major (York), 'Sibyl, Yorkshire, and the Two Nations'.

The registration fee for the day is £12 (£5 for students and unwaged). To register, please email Further information is available here.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Reading group report: the Great Exhibition

 ‘Joined together in love and trade, like one great family’: The Great Exhibition of 1851

Led by Beatrice Turner (Newcastle)
16 November 2012, Newcastle University

Deviating slightly from the usual format of reading groups led by individual members, this session encouraged participants to bring along and be prepared to discuss a text, artefact or other object related to the Great Exhibition of 1851. The title of this session, ‘joined together in love and trade’, placed emphasis upon the ways in which the Exhibition cultivated a sense of shared interests, both in terms of the wide-ranging implications of its commercial aims, and its impact upon national identity. The items brought to the session thus centred around these themes, as well as reflected the group’s interest in exploring intersections between the objects themselves.

The session began with an overview of the origins of the Exhibition. The brainchild of Prince Albert and rising inventor Henry Cole, it was opened on 1 May 1851 as a celebration of British invention, trade and scientific discovery. Founded partially as a response to the 1844 French Industrial Exposition, one of its key aims was to present Britain and its empire as the leader of global industrialisation, its official title being The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations. The icon of the Exhibition, the Crystal Palace assembled in Hyde Park to display the vast array of attractions, became our starting point for discussion. Opening the session with the idea that the Crystal Palace was an independent space, as well as a building that enclosed the Exhibition, members became interested in contemporary accounts of the structure. Engaging with the reactions of a range of writers, economists, industrialists and mathematicians, we considered to what extent the preoccupations of such individuals coloured their accounts of the Palace, or whether the building itself inspired a specific kind of allure.

Our first account was a letter by Sara Coleridge, daughter of the poet and by 1851 a writer herself. We were struck by Sara’s description of the Crystal Palace as transcending its connection to the Exhibition, with its ‘freshness of atmosphere’ and ‘freedom of walking about’ appearing at first inimical to other accounts of the business and compactness of the attractions. Although she acknowledges the immense crowds, it is the Palace itself that dominates her narrative. This focuses upon moving through different kinds of spaces, from the ground-floor view of the glass panes, to the galleries from which she could ‘look down’ upon the masses. It was suggested that Sara’s sickness at the time could have influenced her descriptions. At this point aware that she was dying of breast cancer, it is revealing that she focuses upon the calming effect of the Crystal Palace upon the invalid, rather than the individual’s relation to the exhibits at large. Certainly her favourable description of the structure’s openness in contrast to indoor spaces like the Royal Academy, implies that Sara prioritises the individual’s relation to their surroundings, rather than what they can discover through the Exhibition.

Developing the theme of how literary figures reacted to this celebration of industrial power, our second set of extracts were letters written by Charlotte Brontë to her father, following her visits to the Exhibition in June 1851. We were struck by her aestheticised descriptions of the Crystal Palace, ranging from a ‘mighty bazaar’ and ‘genii palace’, to more subtle allusions to Romantic poetry. For example, Charlotte’s suggestion that the multitude was ‘subdued’ by an ‘invisible influence’ recalls Shelley’s description of poetic inspiration in both ‘A Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’ (1816) and A Defence of Poetry (1821). It was remarked by some members that Charlotte’s sense of the ‘rolling’ tides of spectators also recalled Wordsworth’s vision of humanity in Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (1798). Finally, her description of the throng of visitors as a ‘living tide’ that ‘rolls on quietly, with a deep hum like the sea’ is reminiscent of Byron’s veneration of the ocean in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto the Fourth (1818), specifically the lines:

                    Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean— roll! 
                    Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; 
                    Man marks the earth with ruin—his control 
                    Stops with the shore (CLXXIX).

This Byronic reference is interesting when one considers that Charlotte’s awe towards the aesthetic value of the Crystal Palace contrasts with her distaste for the ‘ruinous’ industrial aspects of the Exhibition itself. Although she admires the infinite potential of the Palace in its resemblance to a train station, a church and a temple, Charlotte distrusts the secular rationale behind the Exhibition and its appeal to the masses. In particular she seems to fear the universalisation of knowledge, a popular concern amongst the middle-classes of that time, which embodies the themes of unity and fragmentation that the Exhibition inspired. We noted that, notwithstanding her admiration for the beauty of the Palace, Charlotte remarks that she much preferred attending Thackeray’s lectures on eighteenth-century literature around the same time. We considered what this reveals about contemporary anxiety, as well as excitement, about industrialisation and national growth.

Our third item was an it-narrative from Dickens' magazine Household Words in which an Exhibition catalogue relates the history of its construction and composition. We discussed to what extent this tendency to ‘collect’ industrial developments embodied the growing belief that objects themselves had both a history and an identity. It was also suggested that this method of cataloguing was a means to accumulate knowledge in a ‘safe’ and methodical way, and that this was a trend specific to the mid nineteenth century. An interesting contrast was made between this household-friendly mode of cataloguing and the attempts to catalogue scientific knowledge during the 1790s, which in the hands of Rousseau and Diderot became a means to subvert political institutions.

We then discussed how the Great Exhibition could be compared to similar events concerned with national identity that took place during the nineteenth century. Our fourth item, for example, was a photograph of ‘The Greek Slave’, a statue that was lambasted by British critics for the artist's apparently unconscious gesture to the slave trade in America. We also considered whether its classical style undermined the desire to portray American identity during this period. Finally, we remarked upon the contrast between this derivative style of art and the innovations in firearms and technology displayed in America at this time.

Our fifth area of focus was John Stuart Mill, the famous Victorian political economist and friend of the organiser Henry Cole. We considered to what extent the reaction against utilitarianism in the 1840s shaped the Exhibition’s attitudes towards industrial and artistic innovations. Educated according to the systematic precepts of Jeremy Bentham, who sought to transform economics into a narrow discipline based upon calculation, Mill experienced a nervous breakdown at the age of twenty-one brought about by his reaction against such values. In his recovery phase, he turned increasingly to Wordsworth’s poetry, and as a result began to redefine utilitarian ideology in a way that encompassed more cultural concerns. We considered whether this more nuanced approach to art and industrialisation shaped the way the Exhibition was publicised. In particular, the focus upon art as quantifiable and labour as morally and philosophically useful can be seen to have shaped many of Cole’s objectives.

Developing this theme of redefining what was ‘useful’ in a cultural, as well as commercial context, we considered our sixth item, which was an extract from Charles Babbage’s essay on the limitations of a purely industrial society from 1851. Notwithstanding his characteristically mathematical thought processes and writing style, Babbage engages with this idea of redefining utility, particularly in relation to his belief that the ‘fine arts’ and the ‘industrial arts’ could be seen as interrelated. Most revealing is his comment that the ‘union’ of both arts would enlarge ‘the utility of both’. This was due to the fact that the mass-production of art would allow its positive effects to be wide-ranging, whilst the industrialist would be able to regard his advances as products of ‘the highest beauty’. We found these comments to be fascinating in relation to Mill’s determination to redefine Bentham’s narrow assessment of pleasure and pain, and refute the latter’s rejection of the utility of art.

Our final item was a recent postcard from the South Kensington Museum, which took for its design a contemporary steam engine motif from an exhibition of 1922. This object shared parallels with several charming designs that we looked at from Punch magazine, which reinforced a sense of shifting gender, social and class identities. We considered that the Great Exhibition can thus be seen as sparking the museum phenomenon in Britain and beyond. In later decades this can be seen as taking a more sinister turn, with the increasing rise of colonialism in Africa and Asia, and the desire to accumulate increasingly exotic objects. Nevertheless, we concluded that the Exhibition’s effects can be regarded as largely positive, prizing invention, intellectual inquiry and a certain kind of egalitarianism in an age of empire and Victorian patriarchy.

Leanne Stokoe, Newcastle University.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Calls for papers: a weekly round up

Interiority in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain: Beyond Subjectivity
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., 12 April  2013

The potential for discovery of what is or was “interior” fires the curiosity of scholars of British history and culture, whether the subject of investigation is the parlor of a middle-class Victorian family or the emotional life of an eighteenth-century Methodist. The Rutgers British Studies Center will hold a one-day interdisciplinary conference on April 12, 2013 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey on interiority in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. Broadly understood, "interiority" might include any topic that concerns mental or material phenomena that are conceived to be interior, internal, inner, or inward, often but by no means always in explicit distinction from what is exterior, external, outer, or outward. Listed below are a number of such topics; the aim of this list is to be suggestive, not exhaustive. We encourage topics that in some fashion reflect on historical changes in interiority.

A great deal of excellent work has been done in these period fields on the idea of interiority as psychological subjectivity. We value this work. At the same time—and with no intention of proscribing papers that thoughtfully extend it —we especially encourage papers that go beyond this concentration and that allow relations and correlations to be drawn between different senses of interiority. In this spirit we also aim to bring together a range of interdisciplinary scholarship. We invite those interested to submit proposals of about 250 words by 15 December 2012 to Kathryn Yeniyurt.

Romanticism at the Fin de Siècle
Trinity College Oxford, 14-15 June 2013

Keynote Speaker: Professor Joseph Bristow (UCLA)

This conference places Romanticism at the core of the British Fin de Siècle. As an anti-Victorian movement, the British Fin de Siècle is often read forwards and absorbed into a ‘long twentieth century’, in which it takes the shape of a prehistory or an embryonic form of modernism. By contrast, Fin-de-Siècle authors and critics looked back to the past in order to invent their present and imagine their future. Just at the time when the concept of ‘Victorian’ crystallized a distinct set of literary and cultural practices, the radical break with the immediate past found in Romanticism an alternative poetics and politics of the present.

The Fin de Siècle played a distinctive and crucial role in the reception of Romanticism. Romanticism emerged as a category, a dialogue of forms, a movement, a style, and a body of cultural practices. The Fin de Siècle established the texts of major authors such as Blake and Shelley, invented a Romantic canon in a wider European and comparative context, but also engaged in subversive reading practices and other forms of underground reception.

The aim of this conference is to foster a dialogue between experts of the two periods. We welcome proposals for papers on all aspects of Fin-de-Siècle Romanticism, especially with a cross-disciplinary or comparative focus. Topics might include:

-bibliophilia and bibliomania
-print culture
-continuities and discontinuities
-Romanticism and Decadence
-Romantic Classicism
-European Romanticism and the English Fin de Siècle

Deadline for abstracts: 15 January 2013Please email 300-word abstracts to

Conference organisers: Luisa Calè (Birkbeck) and Stefano Evangelista (Oxford)

This conference is co-organised by the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and the English Faculty of Oxford University with the support of the MHRA

Modern Walks: Human Locomotion during the Long Nineteenth Century, c.1800-1914
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 13-14 September  2013

The nineteenth century was a century of movement. Trains sped passengers across previously unimaginable distances, radically transforming our conceptions of time and distance. Steamboats chugged up rivers and across oceans, provided heretofore unimagined possibilities for travel, trade, and migration. Within cities, trams and subways redefined the urban experience and the urban landscape. Bicycles and – by the turn of the century—automobiles opened another chapter in the history of man and machine united in motion. Yet scholars have often overlooked a simple fact: people continued to walk. Indeed, this most basic of human functions arguably took on an increasing number of forms and meanings as the nineteenth century progressed. The window shopper, commuter, tourist, and trespasser made their appearances on the world stage. Stone-paved sidewalks, new rural pathways and public parks became available to the pedestrian. Old rituals such as the pilgrimage and the promenade adapted to the modern age. Newer practices, such as organized marching, rambling, hiking, and mountain-walking established themselves as important features of social and cultural life.

This conference seeks to explore the many various practices of walking that persisted and emerged around the world in the course of the nineteenth century, and into the early twentieth century. Our goal is not only to offer a new perspective on the history of movement but to ask what walks and walking might reveal about some of the major themes in nineteenth-century global history such as urbanization, industrialization, commodification, and imperialism. In short, how does our perspective on the nineteenth century change if we ask how people put one foot in front of the other, and for what purpose?

Proposals for 8,000-word, pre-circulated papers are invited, with comparative and/or interdisciplinary approaches being especially welcome. Please send a three-page c.v. and an abstract of not more than 300 words to by 15 January 2013.

The conference will be held at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14, 2013. The organizers aim to publish the proceedings of the conference as an edited volume. Questions may be directed to Chad Bryant, History Department, UNC-Chapel Hill; Cynthia Radding, History Department, UNC-Chapel Hill, or Paul Readman, History Department, King’s College, London.

This conference is organised by UNC-Chapel Hill and King's College, London.

Romantic Imports and Exports: 2013 BARS International Biennial Conference
University of Southampton, 25-28 July 2013

Beware of the insipid vanities & idle dissipation of the Metropolis of England: Beware of the unmeaning luxuries of Bath & of the stinking fish of Southampton.
                                                                              - Jane Austen, Love and Freindship, 1790

            For the thirteenth BARS conference in 2013, we invite Romanticists to look beyond British Romanticism and towards cross-cultural exchange, at new media in the Romantic period, and on economics and related discourses. Papers and panels might focus both on literatures other than English in Britain (the market for translations and adaptations in the period, for example, or the importation of categories derived from Indian or Far Eastern originals by Hegel, Hölderlin or Shelley), and on the fate of British Romantic literature and thought on the Continent and in Canada and the United States.

Topics may include: cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary borrowings and exchanges; translation, adaptation and mediation; revolution as an import; exile and emigration; European and transatlantic exchanges and networks. These indicative topics are intended to be inclusive, and to offer opportunities for all Romanticists to participate, but we would also welcome proposals for panels and papers which interpreted the conference rubric more narrowly, and took inspiration from Southampton’s history as an ancient port: trading routes; marine nature and culture; travelling by water; exotic cargoes from home and abroad; trading places; storms and shipwrecks; pirates and piracy.

We invite proposals both for panels and for 20-minute papers relating to our theme. Either should be 250 words, and should be sent by email to by 31 January 2013.
For more information or to ask questions, please contact us at For more information please see the conference website.