Romantic Circles Blog

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.

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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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What are you working on? (Ron Broglio)

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This week we asked our friend Ron Broglio of Georgia Tech, "What are you working on?" Turns out he was working in Sweden.

I’m working on a book chapter on the role of longitude in figuring landscapes. The chapter looks at the ecology of tools and how different tools provided different kinds of human comportment with place. For example, lunar method, with its charts and various instruments, creates a different distributed cognition than clocks do in the Romantic period. While working on the chapter I found my way to Stockholm’s eighteenth-century observatory--now a museum overlooking the city. It has a wealth of instruments and historical information on clocks, longitude and meridians, and maps from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It’s not the Greenwich observatory, but this museum is worth seeing if you’re in Stockholm. The instruments are well preserved and the history is well presented. Afterwards, one can stroll through the old part of town and visit various rare map stores, then take a coffee at one of many streetside cafes.

http://www.observatoriet.kva.se/engelska/utstallningar/bas/gamlameridian.html

Ron Broglio

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Blue Plaque in London for Mary Shelley

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Visitors to London will be familiar with the blue plaques found on buildings everywhere throughout the city to mark where a noted historical figure lived or worked. The first blue plaque was mounted in 1867 on Byron's house in London, according to the English Heritage Website:

http://accessibility.english-heritage.org.uk/Default.asp?WCI=Node&WCE=6516

There are reportedly now almost 800 blue plaques in London. This Friday, October 3, at noon, a new one will be mounted to honor Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley at 24 Chester Square, the house where she died in 1851. Anyone in London that day is invited to attend—and Romantic Circles hereby invites anybody who attends to send us a report of the event.

Steve Jones

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William Richey: 1956-2003

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I'm sorry to report that William Richey passed away on September 7 at age 47 from cancer. He taught in the English Department of University of South Carolina, where he served as Graduate Chair, 1997-2002 and won awards for his teaching. Bill received his BA from UC Berkeley, and his PhD from UCLA. He is the author of Blake's Altering Aesthetic and numerous articles. He also co-edited Lyrical Ballads and Related Writings with Dan Robinson and Reading Rock and Roll with Kevin Dettmar. He is survived by his wife Esther (also teaching at University of South Carolina) and his six-year old daughter Cynthia.

Atara Stein
EDITORS’ NOTE: We also learned from Paula Feldman that a live tree is being sponsored in Bill’s honor in the Children's Room of the Richland County Public Library, in Columbia, South Carolina, a tribute especially meaningful to his daughter Cynthia.

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Report from Grasmere (Marilyn Gaull)

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This note came today from Marilyn Gaull, who is just back from the Lake District and has already been planning for next year’s Wordsworth Summer Conference at Dove Cottage.

It is hard to imagine a more festive summer. We delayed the thirty-fourth annual Wordsworth Summer Conference so that we could all attend the NASSR conference in New York City--which was awesome, including amazing talks, great company, and that inspired trip around Manhattan for our annual banquet. Then, it was off to Grasmere, where the party continued, Seamus Perry, Matthew Scott and Nicky Trott in a whole new setting, a compressed version of "Death's Jest-Book" in the living room of the Red Lion, and some of the best weather I can recall. Morning walks around the Lake, a special visit to Greenhead Ghyll to read "Michael," one of Molly Lefebure's memorable tours of Hawkshead, and, on the one rainy day, when the wind prevented our taking the launch to Brantwood, Ruskin's home, we had a rare quiet afternoon in Coniston, scattered in pubs and tea-rooms--a day we couldn't have planned yet one that worked out so perfectly. There were challenging hikes for the athletic, and a fine outing to Hadrian's Wall for the rest of us. In 2004 new friends will bring new adventures with them, and I know the conference will be entirely different. I hope everyone who wants to will find a way to join us. (The official announcement follows below--follow the link.) (cont'd)

Marilyn Gaull

The thirty-fifth annual Wordsworth Summer Conference will be held from July 31 to August 14 in Grasmere, Cumbria, UK. This charming village in a perfect valley has attracted writers, artists and scholars for the past two hundred years. It is the home of Dove Cottage, the award-winning Museum, Library, and the Center for British Romanticism.

The program is a rare combination of mental, physical, and social activity: lectures, informal papers, seminars, excursions to places of literary and historical interest, climbs up and along the great hills of the Lake District, poetry and play-readings, walks around the lake before breakfast, hikes and excursions to places of literary interest in the afternoon, festive meals, nightly discussions in the village pubs, and an auction of books and paintings conducted by Jonathan Wordsworth for the Wordsworth Trust. The theme is Romanticism, British and Continental, the literature, culture, lives, and times of the writers, thinkers, artists and the tradition of literary studies that has grown up around them. The speakers in 2004 will include Jonathan Bate, James McKusick, John Beer, Fred Burwick, Jane Stabler, Nicholas Roe, Seamus Perry, Jonathan Wordsworth, Gillian Beer, Michael O’Neil, Marilyn Gaull, and Christophe Bode.

Since its founding, the participants have included an international array of scholars, students, writers, professionals from many fields, all of whom, regardless of age, nationality, or experience find the ideal academy, creative center, and intellectual exchange. Since everyone participates, giving a paper or not, expenses for the conference are tax-deductible and appropriate for professional development. Also, with more than ninety hours of lectures, seminars, and excursions, students can earn up to four academic credits which we are pleased to validate through their institutions. The heart of our academy are the twenty minute research papers, followed by forty minutes of discussion on all aspects of Romanticism. Paper readers are required to participate in the full two weeks of the conference, without exception. They are the heart of our academy, and the continuity of our work depends on their participation.

The conference is residentially based at the luxurious and hospitable Red Lion Hotel in Grasmere, though alternate accommodations are available on request. For specific information about fees and rates in 2004, please visit http://www.wordsworth.org.uk/. We hope you will make Grasmere your destination in 2004. Here in the heart of the Lake District, for the first two weeks of every August, a community of friends and colleagues rediscover the alchemy of time, literature and art, personality and place that makes this conference unlike any event in the literary world. We hope you will join us.

Jonathan and Jessica Wordsworth
JandJWordsworth@aol.com

Marilyn Gaull
mg49@nyu.edu

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What are you working on? (Kevin Binfield)

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From time to time we intend to use this blog to ask a scholar in our community, “What's on your desk right now? What are you working on?,” and then post the response. (We got the idea from The Believer magazine.) This seems a good way for all of us to keep up with new or forthcoming projects and to be inspired by their example. So we started by asking the question of Kevin Binfield of Murray State University.

I just spent two weeks face down in the copyedited manuscript for my book, Writings of the Luddites (forthcoming Spring 2004, John Hopkins University Press). Though famous for their violent protests, the Luddites also engaged in literary resistance in the form of poems, proclamations, petitions, songs, and letters. This volume collects complete texts written by Luddites and their sympathizers 1811-1816, organized into the three primary regions of origin—the Midlands, Northwestern England, and Yorkshire. The book includes an extensive introduction to the texts, a historical overview for those unfamiliar with the particulars of the Luddites and their activities, an exploration of their rhetorical strategies, detailed headnotes and a discussion of the social and rhetorical context. Written for the most part from a collective point of view, the Luddite writings range from judicious to bloodthirsty in tone, and reveal a fascination with the language of custom and trade, legal forms of address, petitions and political discourse, the more personal forms of Romantic literature, and the political revolutions in France and America.

I’m also working on a book tentatively titled Labor Romanticism. The book treats the poetics of several working class writers and writer collectives during the long Romantic period--Elizabeth Hands, Susanna Pearson, Janet Little, Frances Greensted, Robert Bloomfield, Christian Milne, Charlotte Richardson, William Lane, Sarah Newman, and the Luddites. My purposes are to read the verse for its formal elements, to identify a set of practices and preferences that we might call a "Labor Romantic" poetics, and to advocate reading their work as poetry with a beauty that results from locale, trade, and custom, rather than merely as sociological artifacts.

Thanks for asking!

Peace,
Kevin Binfield

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Woodring to deliver Marchand Lecture

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Our server in Maryland was down for a while this week thanks to Hurricane Isabel. Charlie Robinson e-mailed yesterday from Delaware: "as I look out at the woods in the back yard. I see some swaying trees up 120 feet. So far winds here are merely 30 miles an hour--and I think we will get only the fringes of the storm." He was writing to ask me to post the following announcement:

Carl Woodring, Woodberry Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, noted scholar and author and editor of numerous works, including Politics in English Romantic Poetry and Coleridge’s Table Talk for the Collected Coleridge, will deliver the Fourth Annual Leslie A. Marchand Memorial Lecture on Friday, October 3, 2003, at 4:00pm, at The University of Delaware, 127 Memorial Hall, Newark, DE:

Three Byronic Heroes: Leslie Marchand, Don Juan, and Don QuixoteThe lecture is sponsored by The Byron Society of America and the English Department of the University of Delaware. A reception in the Byron Lounge will follow the lecture.

R.S.V.P. by Monday, 29 September 2003, by calling (302) 831-3654, or via e-mail at robinson@udel.edu.

Charles Robinson

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