Romantic Circles Blog

_Blake's Striptease_: A film adaptation of _The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Thanks to the Blake Archive blog for hipping us to this new independent film out of the UK. According to the film's press release, it "uses the context of lap-dancing to show that sin is more than simply an issue of right wrong—good and evil—and is a necessary part of human existence."

The trailer is available on YouTube:

And here's some more from the press release:

(Some indication of the filmmakers' reading of _The Marriage_ can be found in paragraph three).

FLASHGUN FILMS, announce the release of Blake’s Striptease, which represents an artistic interpretation of William Blake’s poem: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793). Arguably Blake’s most influential work, the poem has fascinated academics and theologians alike. Set within contemporary society the film uses the context of lap-dancing to show that sin is more than simply an issue of right wrong—good and evil—and is a necessary part of human existence. The film has been submitted to film festivals internationally for screening in the fall.

Set to music by the pianist Erik Satie, the film features a voice-over by Sue Hansen-Styles (used in the Hitman Trilogy) reading a selection of lines from the poem. In line with the poem, the film depicts mans birth into the world as John Symes, lead actor, lies underwater in his bath preparing for his stag night. As the story unfolds John is met by an angel who warns him about his propinquity to sin. John soon meets with his two friends (the peacock and the goat) in a public house where they become intoxicated. During his journey John is revisited by the angel and warned again – but he ignores this advice and the men end up in a lap dancing club guarded by doormen (who play the lions). Here the men observe a striptease where upon the lustful goat attempts to accost the lap-dancer and is ejected by the doormen. Meanwhile John slips away to the VIP room where two tyger lap-dancers lie in wait and he commits the mortal sin of lust – an act that proves to be his undoing. The film concludes with John undergoing a terrifying physical transformation and a quote summarising Blake’s work.

The film is newsworthy as local authorities across the UK try to veto lap-dancing clubs using new legislation passed by Parliament. Moreover, in Italy Anna Nobili, the former Italian lap-dancer from Milan, recently quit after twenty years in the industry to become a nun. According to The Times newspaper, she now performs a “Holy Dance” and now refers to herself as the “ballerina for God” (see e.g., www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6031754.ece). This contradicts the work of Blake who argues that both "The nakedness of woman is the work of God" and "The lust of the goat is the bounty of God".

Flashgun Films are an innovative association of indie film-makers and actors that specialise in music videos, commercials and short films. Thier previous entry to Portobello Film Festival—King Lear of the Taxi—was short-listed for “Best Director” and featured a voice-over from poet, actor and NYC Cab Driver Davidson Garrett. Portobello now stands as the biggest film festival in Europe.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

Online Bibliography of Romantic Poetry and Literary Annual Exhibition announced

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
A page image of by J.R. de J. Jackson's _Jackson Bibliography of Romantic Poetry_

Two new online Romanticism resources have been published recently, both from the University of Toronto. One, the Jackson Bibliography of Romantic Poetry, is edited by Robin Jackson, University Professor Emeritus in the English Department at the University of Toronto. It aims  to provide descriptions of all the volumes of verse in English that were published from 1770 to 1835. Currently available online is Phase I of the project, which covers the years 1798-1835. Stage II will cover the remaining years, 1770-1797.  In stage I alone, 17,160 entries are accessible through a searchable database that allows queries for keyword, author, title, date, and publisher, among others.

The other resource, edited by Lindsey Eckert, a Ph.D. student in English and the Book History and Print Culture Program, is entitled, Nineteenth-Century British Literary Annuals: An Online Exhibition of Materials from the University of Toronto. The exhibition brings together volumes from the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the McLean Collection in the Robertson Davies Library at Massey College, and the Special Collections in the E.J. Pratt Library at Victoria University. Thematically organized virtual cases display books from diverse and dispersed collections and libraries. Viewed in sequential order, the cases tell a loose narrative of the development of the genre from 1823-1839.

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

Elgin Marbles controversy heats up with opening of Acropolis museum

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece

Britain and Greece have marked their roughly two hundred-year stalemate surrounding the ownership of the Elgin Marbles with a new salvo. The occassion: the June 20 opening of the new $200 million, 260,000 square foot Acropolis Museum in Athens. The museum's opening can be seen as a rebuttal to claims by the British Museum, which holds more than half of the frieze's total length, that Greece did not have a sufficient space to keep them. Indeed, Claire Soares of  The Independent sees this massive undertaking as a very deliberate demonstration of Greece's ability to keep the frieze safe:  "Unlike any other museum in the world, it was designed to house something it didn't own."

The gaps in the Greek collection are completed with plaster casts of the originals, made to look by some reports conspicuous in their artificiality. As Sean Newsom of The Times of London argued recently , "We can argue all we like about how we saved the sculpture from years of turmoil in Greece, but with this room finally completed, it’s obvious where they now belong."

Though no permanent loan requests or bequeathals seem to be in the offing, Greek officials have taken on a triumphal tone. The inevitable, it seems, has finally come, according to Greek Culture Minister Antonio Samaras: "For 200 years, the Parthenon Marbles have been amputated, now they must be reunited. The Parthenon frieze speaks through its totality; this voice should be heard not be silenced,"

Numerous other commentators have chimed in on Greece's behalf--among them Christopher Hitchens and Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times. Compare these with responses from the Romantic period by Lord Byron, Felicia Hemans, Percy Shelley, and John Keats, among others. The striking thing, even with the opening of the new museum, is how little the debate has changed.

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

_A Monster's Notes_: More Romantic-era monster lit

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Laurie Schecks _A Monsters Notes_

The Romantic period is proving to be fertile ground for one of this year's chicest fictional genres: monster lit. The newest offering, Laurie Scheck's A Monster's Notes, attempts to take the genre to a new level, jettisoning zombies for a love story between a Frankenstein's monster and an eight-year-old Mary Shelley. According to its publisher's description and word around the Web, the novel promises to offer a metacommentary upon both the original novel it draws from and the burgeoning genre that has given rise to hideous progeny like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (see previous post). One NPR commentator described A Monster's Notes as a novel  "for people who care about the Pride and Prejudice side of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."

Taking Frankenstein as its Ur-text, the novel asks a serious of tantalizing "what ifs":

What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein’s monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother’s grave, and he came to her unbidden? What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need? What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century?

It appears the novel shares some affinities with Shelley Jackson's classic hypertext Patchwork Girl, both of which imagine face-to-face meetings between the creature and Mary Shelley and which project the creature into a postmodern world. Described by the publisher as a "genre bending book," a monster's tale purports to blend historical fiction, science fiction, romance, and monster lit into "a meditation on creativity and technology, on alienation and otherness, on ugliness and beauty, and on our need to be understood." Certainly, like Jackson's hypertext, hybridity promises to be a key theme.

A Monster's Notes hits bookshelves June 23.

See also our previous post on John Kessel’s “Pride and Prometheus,” a nominee for the best novelette category at this year's Hugo Awards (science fiction). It chronicles a meeting between Pride and Prejudice's bookish Mary Bennet and Frankenstein’s namesake.

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

Romantic pleasure ushers in slow death of pain

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

An article in today's Boston Globe online suggests that Romantic era science helped establish modern medicine's conception of pain. But perhaps emblematically, it wasn't until a slightly later moment that medical researchers--and the culture at large--realized that what could increase pleasure could also curtail pain. Citing a watershed experiment with nitrous oxide at Massachussets General Hospital in 1846 as the turning point in society's perception of pain management, author Mike Jay flashes back to the experiments of Thomas Beddoes and his Pneumatic Institute at the turn of the nineteenth century, describing them as near misses  in the realization of nitrous oxide's anesthetic potential. The problem, it seems, is that the men Beddoes tapped to huff the gas--among them Coleridge, Southey, and Humphry Davy--were more interested in the high:

The experiments, as they unfolded, led the researchers away from any notion they might have had about pain relief. Most of the subjects responded not by losing consciousness, but by leaping around the lab, dancing, shouting, and possessed by poetic epiphanies.

Still, writes Jay, even this rage for pleasure would eventually lead to a new outlook on pain:

The Pneumatic Institution's curiosity about the mind-altering properties of the gas, and particularly its "sublime" effects on the imagination, were emblematic of the Romantic sensibility of its participants, and their search for a language to map their inner worlds. This sensibility, as it spread, would play an important role in transforming attitudes to pain, but its early adopters still held the social attitudes of their time. Davy believed that "a firm mind might endure in silence any degree of pain," and regarded his frequent cuts, burns, and laboratory misadventures as heroic badges of pride. Coleridge, by contrast, was acutely and often morbidly sensitive to pain, but he perceived this sensitivity as a moral weakness and blamed it for his shameful and agonizing dependency on opium.

Ultimately, writes Jay, the "new sensibilities" of a "more genteel and compassionate society" (read: Victorian) would turn the focus from pleasure and guilt to the amelioration of pain. Presumably adapted from Jay's recent book, The Atmosphere of Heaven (Yale UP, 2009), the article goes on to discuss in detail the changing cultural and medicinal viewpoints on pain, charting a general trajectory from a religious notion of pain as a necessary for the preservation of life to a more secular fascination with pain management as a marvel of medical technology. Given that the centerpiece of Jay's book is the intellectual circle surrounding Beddoes and his Pneumatic Institute, one might expect it to offer an even more nuanced take on the beginning of the end for pain.

Read the full article here.

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

CFP: No Place Like Home: Localism and Regionalism in British Literature and Culture, 1660-1830

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Recent literary studies have generally assumed that regionalism emerged around the turn of the nineteenth century in response to the consolidation of the modern nation-state, imperial expansion, and industrialization, all of which tended to efface cultural, and to some extent geographical, differences among sub-national communities. Yet during the long eighteenth century, various literary and cultural developments—from newspapers, novels, dictionaries, and poems, to antiquarianism, topography, travel writings, and statistical surveys— reflected, and arguably participated in creating, local and regional forms of community. No Place Like Home will explore the idea that regionalism and localism— or, more generally, the aesthetic expressions of sub-national cultural, political, or geographic identities —may have preceded, or at least accompanied, the rise of the nation-state. Our proposed collection aims to challenge “rise of the nation” narratives by exploring forms of regional and local affiliation in British literature and culture in the 150 years preceding the nation-state’s emergence as the paradigmatic form of community in Western Europe. We are therefore soliciting contributions that investigate any of the following topics as they relate to British literature and culture between 1660 and 1830:

-- the emergence of regionalism as an aesthetic, cultural, and/ or political category
-- the development of the concept of the local (especially in contradistinction to the competing claims of the national and the global or cosmopolitan)
-- the evolution of discourses of "rootedness," "aboriginality" or other forms of sub-national belonging, identification, or community

Please send 500-word abstracts for essays of 5,000 to 7,000 words, along with brief academic CVs, to Evan Gottlieb (evan.gottlieb[at]oregonstate.edu) and Juliet Shields (js37[at]u.washington.edu) by September 1, 2009 .

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

CFP: Four Dimensions: Spatio-Temporal Shifts Reflected in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
(conference 4/2010; abstract due 9/30/09)
contact email:
lfash[at]brandeis.edu

Four Dimensions: Spatio-Temporal Shifts Reflected in Nineteenth-Century Literature (panel name)

Indisputably, the categories of space and time shift massively in the nineteenth-century; technology speeds experience just as urban growth and land acquisition distort space. In 1750 it took 3 days to travel from Manchester to London; by 1850, it took 6 hours. In 1866 one could even send a message almost instantly from Ireland to Canada across Cyrus Field’s transatlantic cable. The quickening of experiential time was also tied to the spatial developments which required travel technology and created new proximities: between 1810 and 1860, while the country acquired huge tracks of western land, the urban population in the United States increased from 6% to 20%, and by 1861 London, the largest city in the world, reached almost 3 million people. This panel will consider these spatial and temporal developments and their effect on nineteenth-century English language literature on both sides of the Atlantic. How are changing experiences of time and space represented in literary descriptions or emplotment? How do spatio-temporal concerns relate to literary markets and publishing trends such as serialization—that stretching of a story across time in a certain allotted space? Can we graft these notions of changing space and time onto actual events represented in literature? Those who fought or witnessed the Civil War knew they were experiencing a historical moment, one out of time, as they were within it. How do these spatio-temporal concerns relate to imperialism? How do they play out for immigrants, displaced persons, or colonized subjects? Papers focusing on any result of the manner in which time and space experientially alter within the nineteenth-century are welcome. Please send 300 – 500 word abstracts, brief biographical statements, and contact information (postal address, email address, and phone number) for 15 – 20 minute presentations to Lydia Fash (lfash[at]brandeis.edu). Deadline is September 30, 2009.

About the Conference

41st Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure

The 41st Annual Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention will be posted in June: www.nemla.org.

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. Please note that A/V use comes with a $10 fee.

Travel to Canada now requires a passport for U.S. citizens. Please get your passport application in early.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

CFP: Death Resentenced (British Nineteenth Century)

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Northeast Modern Language Association Conference April 7-11, 2010.

41st Anniversary Northeast Modern Language Association Conference. April 7-11 2009 in Montreal Quebec. 2009 marked the 25th anniversary of Garrett Stewart’s important study of the manner in which nineteenth and twentieth-century British authors represented death. In the quarter decade since Death Sentences, how do we now conceive of nineteenth-century British writers’ efforts to iterate death? And how do we readers respond to nineteenth-century portrayals of death? Especially welcome will be papers with specific, argumentative theses and close readings. Please submit 250-500 word abstracts and brief CVs (as attachments) by September 30, 2009 to Bianca Tredennick at tredenbp[at]oneonta.edu. The 41st Annual NeMLA Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention will be posted in June: www.nemla.org. Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. Travel to Canada now requires a passport for U.S. citizens. Please get your passport application in early.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

CFP: Theatricality and the Performative in the Long Nineteenth Century

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

31st Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association

The University of Tampa, March 11-13, 2010, Tampa, Florida

Dramatic expression and self-conscious performances marked almost every aspect of nineteenth century life and artistic culture, as theatrical turns and performative mindsets introduced in the 17th-18th centuries expanded in the 1780s through the beginning of World War One. We invite paper and panel proposals that explore these themes and subjects in the long Nineteenth Century (1780-1914). Papers might address the theatrical shows—whether serious drama, circus displays, vaudeville, operas, or Shakespearean revivals—that appeared in cities and towns on both sides of the Atlantic (as well as in more distant lands). Or they might investigate how politics, social events, military engagements, domestic affairs, public trials, crime reports, religious rituals, architectural spaces, sculptural moments, exhibition halls, artistic and musical compositions, and the early moving pictures of the cinema, assumed a theatrical sensibility. Welcome also are proposals for papers and panels that bring scholarly and theoretical interests in performativity to bear on concepts of identity, individuality, and audience in the given era.

Please submit abstracts of approximately 500 words along with a brief (one page) c.v. to the Program Co-Chairs, Janice Simon (U of Georgia) and Regina Hewitt (U of South Florida) at the conference address ncsa2010[at]earthlink.net by Sept. 15, 2009. Speakers will be notified by or before Dec. 15.

Any graduate student whose proposal is accepted may at that point submit a full-length version of the paper in competition for a travel grant to help cover transportation and lodging expenses.

Conference sessions will be held at the University of Tampa, a campus with both the historic late-19th century Plant Hall (formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel) and a state-of-the-art conference center. Accommodations will be available at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Tampa, a short walk from campus. For further information—available in midsummer—please visit the NCSA website or contact Elizabeth Winston, Local Arrangements Director (U of Tampa), at the conference address ncsa2010[at]earthlink.net.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

Romantic Circles as Online Community

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Lisa Spiro of the Digital Scholarship in the Humanities blog recently cited Romantic Circles as an exemplary "online community" for its long-standing devotion to diverse scholarly pursuits in a digital environment.  Her post addresses the relative dearth of collaborative work in the humanities as compared to the sciences but also points to the digital humanities as a rich source of  collaborative work, of which Romantic Circles is just one example.  Spiro's post is extensive and collects concrete examples of collaborative digital humanities projects--from crowdsourcing to content aggregation to gaming.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

RC Blog

Pages