Romantic Circles Blog

Wat Tyler production in NY

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This afternoon we received the following note from a member of the cast of an upcoming theatrical production in New York: a staging of Robert Southey’s famous (and famously-pirated) 1817 drama about the leader of the Peasants' Rebellion of 1381, Wat Tyler.

I wanted you know about a great theatrical matinee in New York City on Sunday afternoon, November 16, titled "Ethics Is A Living Thing!" This dramatic presentation on Robert Southey's Wat Tyler includes a performance of the play in its entirety, and stirring discussion of its history and meaning for people today.

The matinee is based on a 1970 lecture given by Eli Siegel, founder of the philosophy, Aesthetic Realism. It will take place at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation--a not-for-profit educational foundation in the SoHo section of New York.

I want you to know too that the presentation includes Eli Siegel's new, tremendously kind comprehension of Robert Southey—about the torment he had, including about the publication of Wat Tyler.

Here is a link to an online flyer for the event in PDF format--I thought you might like to post the link on your site, so readers could know about it:

http://www.aestheticrealism.org/Wat-Tyler.pdf

Sincerely,
Bennett Cooperman

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Keats House voted "top poetry landmark"

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A recent poll conducted by the British Poetry Society (according to a story we noticed in The Telegraph for October 11) has named Keats House in Hampstead the "top poetry landmark" in Great Britain. The poll was conducted as part of the general festivities commemorating the tenth annual National Poetry Day.

(Thanks to Wordsworth's famous sonnet, another London site, Westminster Bridge, was voted the second favorite poetic landmark.)

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New Romantic Circles Bibliography (Kyle Grimes)

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Romantic Circles is happy to announce the publication of a redesigned and updated Publications page. At the heart of the page is a new Romantic Circles Bibliography, which offers tables of contents from selected Romanticism journals and, more important, annual listings of books likely to be of interest to Romanticists. The RCB is intended as a "browser's bibliography." While it does (or soon will) offer a limited search capability, it is not intended to compete with or replace the more robust research databases that are available from most university libraries. Instead, the RCB offers a convenient listing of recent books, complete (where possible) with links to publishers’ Websites and to online reviews--either on Romantic Circles itself or elsewhere on the web.

A note about the principles of selection: It is, as students of the period well know, impossible to define with any precision exactly what books might be relevant to the study of Romanticism. The book lists provided in this first edition of the RCB are the result of various library, publisher, and database searches on the key persons and historical topics that are most central to the study of British Romantic-period writing. Inevitably, important books will be omitted from such a list. Readers who are aware of books that should be included are invited to click the "Make Submission" button at the top of each book listing page. The editor will compile such submissions and include them in quarterly updates of the RCB. In theory, the RCB will develop by this process as a kind of reading list attuned specifically to the needs and interests of the Romantic Circles community.

The URL for the new Romantic Circles Publications page is

http://www.rc.umd.edu/publications/index.html

Questions, complaints, and comments can be addressed me at kgrimes@uab.edu.

Kyle Grimes

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Forthcoming at RC Praxis (Orrin Wang)

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Orrin Wang, Editor of the Romantic Circles Praxis series, which publishes peer-reviewed collections of original critical essays, writes with this preview of some volumes we can expect in the near future.

One of the most exciting sessions at the 2003 NASSR conference at Fordham in NYC was "Romantic Libraries," with papers by Ina Ferris, Heather Jackson, and Deirdre Lynch. I'm delighted to feature that session as a forthcoming volume on Romantic Circles Praxis, not simply because of the high quality of the essays (though there is that!) but also because it seems quite appropriate in this day and age to present the study of bibliomania in electronic form.

Two other RCP volumes coming out this year also deal with the mixing, or combining, of media. Ron Broglio is editing a volume on digital studies of Blake, which explores the possibilities generated by studying Blake in this medium, as well as how much the art and textual forms of Blake encourage such a method. And Gillen D'Arcy Wood is editing a volume for us on Romanticism and opera, which not only looks at opera during the Romantic era, but also considers how much Romantic writing is an operatic experience.

It makes quite nice sense to me to showcase all this diverse, but overlapping scholarship on media on a Website devoted to Romantic literature. Perhaps one day we'll do a volume on comparing the habits (as Jerome Christensen might put it) of the Romantic bibliophile and the twenty-first century Web user . . . .

Orrin Wang

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Bate Biography of John Clare

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Jonathan Bate’s biography of the “peasant poet,” John Clare, has just been published (by Picador):

http://www.panmacmillan.com/books/october/johnclare/default.html

It was reviewed on October 10 by Simon Kovesi of Oxford Brookes University. Here’s the review, in The Independent:

http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/books/reviews/story.jsp?story=451687

Kovesi also publishes the John Clare page (hosted by Nottingham Trent University), which contains lots of Clare materials including some useful information on the copyright dispute surrounding his texts:

http://human.ntu.ac.uk/clare

Another review essay, by Christopher Caldwell and containing links to a good number of excerpts from the poems, appeared in Slate magazine yesterday:

http://slate.msn.com/id/2089950/

[NOTE: additional late sighting (October 21)--a review by John Lanchester in The New Yorker. Read it online at: http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/?031027crbo_books.]

SJ

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What are you working on? (Karl Kroeber)

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Today we asked Karl Kroeber of Columbia University, “What are you working on?”

I am "working" (as you know when classes are in session and the department is hiring, there is little productive personal intellectual labor) on two projects. A contrast of visual and verbal narrative, focused on nineteenth-century novels and twentieth-century films, with significant emphasis falling on what I consider romantic novels by Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. The second project is a study of "children's literature," the roots of which I identify with Blake and Wordsworth, whom I associate with Hans Christian Anderson and later Kipling, in a line running through Tolkien and T. H. White and Richard Adams into Phillip Pullman. This line is distinguished by its antagonism to the overwhelming bulk of "children's literature" that increasingly appeals to and reinforces a commodified imagining, a Disneyfied perversion of imagining encouraged by all commercial movies and TV directed at children.

Karl Kroeber

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Keats in Slate Magazine

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Today in Slate (the online magazine), you can find Keats's "To Autumn," with a brief headnote by the poet Robert Pinsky. The note suggests (among other observations) that "The fulfillment, the hovering, and the finality of autumn are so vivid in John Keats' 'To Autumn' that readers of English cannot be sure how much our perception of the season comes from this poem."

http://slate.msn.com/id/2089783/

From that page you can also download a Windows Media audio file of Pinksy reading the poem.

* * *

Coincidentally, Romantic Circles just this hour announced the publication of a new volume in our Praxis series: "Ode on a Grecian Urn": Hypercanonicity and Pedagogy. Edited and introduced by James O'Rourke, the volume contains eleven essays from a distinguished group of scholars focusing on how they teach Keats's "Urn" in courses ranging from introductory literature surveys to graduate seminars.

The contributors are David Collings, Helen Regueiro Elam, Spencer Hall, David P. Haney, John Kandl, Bridget Keegan, Brennan O'Donnell, Jeffrey C. Robinson, Jack Stillinger, Heidi Thomson and Susan J. Wolfson.

http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/grecianurn/

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Hannah Cowley in New York

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Tom Crochunis of Brown University writes to let us know about an intriguing theatrical production in New York. Anyone who attends the play is hereby invited to send us a brief review.

If any Romanticists out there are lucky enough to be in New York (but not unlucky enough to be Yankees fans--sorry, as a temporarily exuberant Red Sox fan I just had to say it), they should consider attending the current production of Hannah Cowley's The Belle's Strategem, which was just reviewed in The New York Times and Curtain Up.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/07/arts/theater/07RIVA.html?ex=1066533286&ei=1&en=34b6ff9972cce93f

http://www.curtainup.com/bellesstratagem.html

From everything I hear, this sounds like a very strong production worked on by a sharp dramaturg, Melinda Finberg, and a good director, Davis McCallum. Finberg has edited a collection of plays by women dramatists from Behn to Cowley for Oxford and worked on the Cowley readings that were a part of the First 100 Years series that has taken place over the past year in New York.

http://www.juggernaut-theatre.org/first100years.html

Some readers of this blog may have attended the readings of Joanna Baillie's The Election and The Tryal that were given during the period of this year's NASSR conference at Fordham. The series' readings have had the effect of interesting artistic directors in New York in mounting productions of some of these plays (about which they’d previously known little or nothing). The production of The Belle's Strategem is just one example of the payoff of this excellent series, curated by Mallory Catlett and Gwynn MacDonald.

Here’s the information on the show:

THE BELLE'S STRATAGEM
by Hannah Cowley
Directed by Davis McCallum

Remaining Performances:
October 9-11, 15-18 @ 8pm
October 12, 19 @ 3pm
at the West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew,
263 West 86th Street, near Broadway
(take the 1, 2, or 9 subway to 86th Street)
$15 General Admission/$12 Students with ID
Purchase tickets at www.Theatermania.com (212) 352-0255

Tom Crochunis

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Mary Shelley ceremony (Nora Crook)

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Mary Shelley scholar Nora Crook sends us this report on last Friday’s Blue-Plaque ceremony in London. (See post for Sept. 29 below.)

The unveiling of a Blue Plaque on 24 Chester Square, Mary Shelley’s London home from 1846-1851, took place on Friday 3 October 2003 at 12 noon. About fifty people were present on a typical London autumn day, overcast but mild. Loyd Grossman spoke for English Heritage, which puts up Blue Plaques marking the residences of celebrated London-dwellers. (There are now nearly 800 such plaques, literary figures being well represented. Another be-plaqued house in Chester Square belonged to Matthew Arnold. ) Number 24, overlooking the leafy private square, is a handsome, stuccoed Grade II listed building in one of the most desirable residential districts of London. [cont'd]

Loyd Grossman was followed by the actor Gayle Hunnicutt, who read beautifully from Mary Shelley’s letter of 1846 saying why she bought the lease (as a base to further the political career of her unmarried son, Percy Florence), what she hoped from it (a congenial set of acquaintances) and voicing what she feared (that it might prove too large). The house would have been convenient for getting to the Houses of Parliament. Before the nearby Victoria Station was built in the 1860s it was also reasonably handy for getting to London Bridge and thus by train to the Shelley mansion, Field Place, and to the South Coast.

Miranda Seymour, Mary Shelley’s latest biographer, made a short, graceful speech, pointing out that while 24 Chester St was where Mary Shelley died of a painful brain tumour in 1851, it was also where she had first received her future daughter-in-law, Jane St John, who made her extremely happy during her last years. Tribute was paid to the late Beatrice Hanss, who in 1977 had a private marble plaque put up rather than nothing at all, a previous attempt to place a blue plaque having failed, owing to a refusal by the then owner to permit the words “Author of Frankenstein.” (This plaque, we understand, has been preserved and is now in the hands of the present owner.) At last, however, Mary Shelley was being given this much overdue public recognition as the author of her most famous work. The Blue Plaque (still behind scaffolding, which will be removed) was then unveiled by Miranda Seymour to cheers.

See the unveiling here (photos courtesy Keith Crook):
http://homepage.mac.com/stevenjones1/Shelley/PhotoAlbum13.html

Among others present were Lady Abinger, widow of the late Lord Abinger, Dr Bruce Barker-Benfield (representing the Bodleian Library), Angus Graham-Campbell and Harriet Cullen (representing the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association), Peter Cochran, Keith Crook and myself, Maurice Hindle, Richard Holmes, Zachary Leader, William St Clair and Rose Tremaine. Many more well-wishers would have been present too, had they been able get away from work and up to London. The event was well publicized in the broadsheets, the TLS and local papers. After the ceremony, William St Clair invited as many as could squeeze into his flat in Eaton Square, just round the corner, for champagne and sandwiches. There we were shown some choice items from his Mary Shelley collection and met Michael Foot, grand old man of Byronism and admirer of Frankenstein. It was an enjoyable ending to a most satisfying occasion.

Nora Crook
Cambridge

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What are you working on? (Jerry Hogle)

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Today we asked Jerrold Hogle, of the University of Arizona, "What are you working on?"

I am presently working on a book-project currently titled The Gothic Image In The Romantic Poem, towards which I launched initial forays (bringing forth useful suggestions from colleagues) at the 2001 and 2002 NASSR and the 2003 International Gothic Association Conferences. This effort tries to bring together at last the two main tracks in my research, Romantic poetry and the whole "Gothic" phenomenon. Building on the good work of Michael Gamer, Anne Williams, David Punter, and others, I hope to offer an informative new take on the complex "baggage" that the Gothic brings to Romantic poems when it is used there (often with some disparagement). What is brought out in that "baggage," I am starting to find, varies greatly from author to author, and at this point I plan to treat Smith, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Robinson, Byron, the Shelleys, and Keats, along with others. In all cases, though, I am finding so far that the most irresolvable parts of each writer's own struggles between ideologies in the culture at the time are "thrown off" into the Gothic because it is in the very nature of the Gothic to provide that sort of "abject" symbolic location. I will be grateful for any and all suggestions as I proceed.

Jerry Hogle
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~hogle/

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