Romantic Circles Blog

_Milton_ copy B published at the Blake Archive

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An announcement from the editors at the Blake Archive:

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of the electronic edition of Milton a Poem copy B.  There are only four copies of Milton, Blake's most personal epic. Copy B, from the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, joins copy A, from the British Museum, and copy C, from the New York Public Library, previously published in the Archive.

Blake etched forty-five plates for Milton in relief, with some full-page designs in white-line etching, between c. 1804 (the date on the title page) and c. 1810. Six additional plates (a-f) were probably etched in subsequent years up to 1818. No copy contains all fifty-one plates. The prose "Preface" (plate 2) appears only in copies A and B. Plates a-e appear only in copies C and D, plate f only in copy D. The first printing, late in 1810 or early in 1811, produced copies A-C, printed in black ink and finished in water colors. Blake retained copy C and added new plates and rearranged others at least twice; copy C was not finished until c. 1821. Copy D was printed in 1818 in orange ink and elaborately colored. The Archive will publish an electronic edition of copy D in the near future.

Like all the illuminated books in the Archive, the text and images of Milton copy B are fully searchable and are supported by our Inote and ImageSizer applications. With the Archive's Compare feature, users can easily juxtapose multiple impressions of any plate across the different copies of this or any of the other illuminated books. New protocols for transcription, which produce improved accuracy and fuller documentation in editors' notes, have been applied to all copies of Milton in the Archive.

With the publication of Milton copy B, the Archive now contains fully searchable and scalable electronic editions of sixty-eight copies of Blake's nineteen illuminated books in the context of full bibliographic information about each work, careful diplomatic transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, and extensive bibliographies. In addition to illuminated books, the Archive contains many important manuscripts and series of engravings, sketches, and water color drawings, including Blake's illustrations to Thomas Gray's Poems, water color and engraved illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy, the large color printed drawings of 1795 and c. 1805, the Linnell and Butts sets of the Book of Job water colors and the sketchbook containing drawings for the engraved illustrations to the Book of Job, the water color illustrations to Robert Blair's The Grave, and all nine of Blake's water color series illustrating the poetry of John Milton.

As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the continuing support of the Library of Congress, and the cooperation of the international array of libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Ashley Reed, project manager, William Shaw, technical editor
The William Blake Archive

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"Belle Dame" Revisited

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A new stop-motion animation film based on a story by Neil Gaiman offers a slightly more than passing allusion to Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci." Directed by Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas), Coraline follows a young girl neglected and ignored by her parents into a parallel world (discovered through a small door in the old mansion into which they've recently moved) that contains a set of "other" parents, led by the mother, who have mastered the art of wish-fulfillment. The only difference between the real world and the alternate one: the characters in the latter have buttons sewn over their eyes, marking them as automota of a sort. As the "other mother" begins to ply Coraline with goodies and entertainments, it quickly becomes clear that the former has devious plans for Coraline. And it is not long before the "other mother" gives Coraline an ultimatum: to remain in this happy world, she must abandon her real parents and agree to have buttons sewn over her eyes, like the rest of the characters in the parallel world.

Coraline's immediate rejection of this proposal unmasks the "other mother" as the sinister, manipulative "Belle Dame" she is. The latter name is given the mother by the ghosts of three children she has previously goaded into her world and subsequently locked away for eternity. A sustained meditation of Keats' poem this movie is not. But it does contain an interesting take on the poem's themes of seduction,  economy of exchange (highlighted by the Merci / Mercy pun in the title), the danger of dreams, the abomination of  love, and, most importantly,  the enslavement of the seductress' victims in a state of perpetual, ghostly death-in-life.  Most conspicuously absent, as might be expected, is the theme of sexual seduction in Keats' poem; the abomination of love in the movie is of the motherly kind. Absent the sexual politics (that makes possible an empowered reading of the Belle Dame in Keats' poem), the "other mother" of the movie is thoroughly villainous. What's more, the dominating visual imagery of the film is that of dolls and puppetry, something Keats poem only addresses by analogy.

For reasons entirely other than its debts to Keats, the film has received mostly favorable reviews, and if that's not enough, it is projected in stereoscopic 3D! (But not, unfortunately, at this blogger's theater.)

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Pride and Prejudice--and Zombies?

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It seems Jane Austen-ites are abuzz with a new book, titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!, that turns Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, et al into zombie killers.  According to an article in today's Times, the novel retains about 85 percent of Austen's words, twisting them to fit the zany context. Hence Austen's famous first line reads, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

According to the publisher's description, the novel is a "delightful comedy of manners" accentuated with plenty of "bone-crunching zombie action":

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Complete with 20 illustrations in the style of C. E. Brock (the original illustrator of Pride and Prejudice), this insanely funny expanded edition will introduce Jane Austen's classic novel to new legions of fans.

The novel is slated to come out in April.

The book also got some play on the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me this week during the "Bluff the Listener" segment, in which a listener was tasked to choose which of three stories about classic works of literature being "improved" was true. Listen here.

This story is already all over the blogosphere, so here are just  a couple examples of what others are saying about this spoof:

Austenprose

A Bloggering Hole

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CFP: "Romanticism and the City" NYC November 5-8 2009

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(http://www.ccny.cuny.edu/icrnyc/)

The fall 2009 meeting of the International Conference on Romanticism will convene in New York City from November 5 to November 8 to address the topic “Romanticism and the City.” The meeting will be jointly hosted by The City College and The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. Submissions engaging with some aspect of the general theme are welcome from all disciplines, including but not limited to literary studies, history, philosophy, and political science.

Plenary Speakers:
Alexander Gelley, University of California-Irvine
Marjorie Levinson, University of Michigan
Michael Moon, Emory University

From Wordsworth’s description of Lyrical Ballads as a response to “the increasing accumulation of men in cities” to Baudelaire’s location of the impetus for his prose poetry in “la fréquentation des villes énormes,” the history of Romanticism is bound up with a continuous and evolving response to the emergence of the modern city. As work in a range of areas in our own day leads us to reconsider how we think about such oppositions as nature and culture, the organic and the mechanical, wholeness and multiplicity, the urban text or sub-text of Romanticism presents itself not only as a comparatively neglected area of investigation but as a place to pursue this rethinking.

These observations are offered to prompt debate and, above all, to invite a broadened conception of the historical reach of Romanticism in the formulation of proposals. Proposals for individual papers should be limited to 500 words and emailed to icrnyc_at_ccny.cuny.edu no later than May 1, 2009. General proposals for special sessions should be also limited to 500 words, or 1000 words if comprising sub-proposals, and emailed to: icrnyc_at_ccny.cuny.edu no later than March 1, 2009.

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The Intimate Portrait: drawings, miniatures and pastels from Ramsay to Lawrence

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Another exhibition, this time at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, chronicles one hundred years (1730-1830) of "intimate portraits," including portraits of Walter Scott and Robert Burns.

Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Mary Hamilton, 1789
This exhibition explores a fascinating but relatively unknown type of portraiture that flourished in Georgian and Regency Britain between the 1730s and 1830s.

It features intimate portraits by Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, John Downman, Richard Cosway, David Wilkie and many others, all drawn from the collections of the National Galleries of Scotland and the British Museum, many never exhibited before.

Portraits were displayed in public at the Royal Academy exhibitions but behind the scenes, in private sitting rooms, studies and bedrooms some of them served a more intimate role. Miniatures were often worn as jewellery to keep a loved one close; fragile pastels protected by glittering gilt frames were displayed on walls, while drawings were framed or mounted in albums to be shown to friends and family.

The exhibition features nearly 200 examples in a range of materials, from pencil, chalk, watercolours and pastels to miniatures on ivory. It includes many self-portraits as well as intimate portraits of the artists’ families and friends. Sitters vary from the merchant and middle classes to the aristocracy, actors and celebrities including Lady Hamilton, and political and literary figures such as Sir Walter Scott, the Duke of Wellington, Robert Burns and the young Queen Victoria.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery
25 October – 1 February 2009

British Museum
Prints and Drawings Gallery, Room 90
5 March – 31 May 2009

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Changing Landscapes: The Industrial Revolution and the British Banknote

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Here's what the British Museum has to say about an ongoing exhibition on currency and the industrial revolution:

An unissued five pound banknote engraved by W.H. Lizars
An extraordinary exhibition providing an insight into the economy and society of nineteenth century Britain.

The face of Britain changed beyond recognition in the nineteenth century following intense industrialization and urbanization, advances in agriculture and developments in international trade and finance. New private banks employed celebrated engravers to create intricate and beautiful banknote illustrations, portraying aspects of the changing Britain and illustrating a sense of national pride and civic identity.

This extraordinary exhibition of banknotes, tokens, medals, paintings, prints, silverware, pottery and models of locomotives and ships reflects those monumental changes and provides an invaluable insight into the economy and society of the time.

This exhibition is part of an ongoing collaboration between the British Museum and the Barber Institute. The exhibition also features items on loan from the Science Museum, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Cadbury Collections of nineteenth century Britain.

Barber Institute, Birmingham
7 March 2008 – 6 March 2009

Image: An unissued five pound banknote engraved by W.H. Lizars

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CFP: The Art and the Act: John Thelwall in Practice

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Second Thelwall Memorial Conference

October 16-18, 2009 Dalhousie University Halifax, Canada

The Art and the Act: John Thelwall in Practice

Since the inaugural Thelwall memorial conference held in Bath in January 2007, interdisiciplinary scholarship on Thelwall’s multifaceted career has gathered momentum. In 2009, the 175th anniversary of his death, we will once again gather to take stock, to celebrate his remarkable legacy, and to extend the circle of those who have risen to the challenge that his theory and practice offer our research, our teaching and our lives.

Elocution is the Art, or the Act of so delivering our own thoughts and sentiments, or the thoughts and sentiments of others, as not only to convey to those around us … the full purport and meaning of the words and sentences in which those thoughts are cloathed; but, also, to excite and impress upon their minds—the feelings, the imagination and the passions by which those thoughts are dictated, or with which they should naturally be accompanied.

(Thelwall, Introductory Discourse on the Nature and Objects of Elocutionary Science)

This conference invites papers on any aspect of Thelwall’s wide-ranging arts and acts (medical, political, elocutionary, literary, journalistic, peripatetic etc). Since Thelwall challenges us to practise what we profess, papers that cross boundaries between theory and practice are particularly welcome, as are those that explore Thelwall’s legacy, and/or transatlantic connections.

Halifax is ideally located between British and American Thelwall communities, with direct international connections. Birthplace of representative government and freedom of the press in Canada, this colourful 18th century port hosts several universities and a dynamic arts scene. In conjunction with the conference, Dalhousie Theatre Productions will stage a full-scale performance of one of Thelwall’s plays.
Papers and panel proposals by February 17, 2009 to judith.thompson@dal.ca

Judith Thompson
Department of English, Dalhousie University
6135 University Ave. Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4P9

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Poets on Poets: new podcasts

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New audio files are available at Romantic Circles' Poets on Poets series: Andrew Kozma reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" Part IV; Jennifer Kwon Dobbs reading Charlotte Turner Smiths's "Sonnet LXX" and "Sonnet LXXVII" [from Elegiac Sonnets]; Elizabeth Volpe reading William Blake's "The Human Abstract"; and Anne Shaw reading Blake's "The Tyger." As always, you can play or download the MP3 files directly from the Poets on Poets page--

http://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/poets/toc.html

--or subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes (search for "Romantic Circles") or directly from our page.

The Poets on Poets series is edited and produced by Tilar Mazzeo with the assistance of Doug Guerra and Matt O'Donnell.

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CFP: Affect, Mood, Feeling: 1748-1819

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Romanticism at Western

The University of Western Ontario: London, Ontario

25-26 April 2009

Keynote Speaker: Professor Ross Woodman (UWO Emeritus)

Recent work in Romanticism encourages us to consider the myriad manifestations and roles of affective experience in Romantic theory and criticism. In Romantic Moods, for example, Thomas Pfau locates within the folds and crosscurrents of European Romanticism “a persistent and unsettling ‘feeling’ of the irreducible tenuousness and volatility of being.” The wide-ranging implications of such an innovative re-imagination of Romantic affect may be felt in the various conscious and unconscious resistances to an Enlightenment faith in the unity of experience, a progressive concept of history, and the transparency of the public sphere, resistances that perhaps come to light in Keats’ yearning, “O for a life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!”

As a focus for its third annual conference, the Romantic Reading Group at UWO encourages enquiry into Romantic affect, mood, and feeling. The historical timeframe suggested by the conference title aims to impose some restriction on a potentially expansive thematic: 1748 reflects the publication of Hume’s An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding and 1819 marks a watershed year in Romanticism—a year witnessing the publication of major works by Percy Shelley (The Cenci), the first two Cantos of Byron’s Don Juan, three novels by Scott, Coleridge’s public lectures at the Crown and Anchor, and much of Keats’ most well known poetry. Far less triumphantly, however, it is also the year of the Peterloo massacre.

Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

● the nature of Romantic feeling ● the revolutionary potential of feeling ● feeling and the formation of the subject ● Romantic moods (anxiety, trauma, melancholy, boredom, paranoia) ● the socio-economics of feeling ● the historicity of sentiment ● the pathology of feeling ● symptomatic appearance of emotion ● sentimentality, sensibility, and genre ● the Gothic ● affect and embodiment ● Romantic sympathy and community ● the rhetoric of emotion ● the poetics and dramatics of passion ● affect and empiricism ● Romantic feeling and the transcendental ● the boundaries between the understanding, feeling, and judgment ● the ethics of affect ● negotiating sincerity ● confessional narratives ● moral sentiment, education, and virtue ● affect, feeling, and the Scottish Enlightenment ● excitability, irritability, and contagion ● metropolitan moods ● the psychosomatics of passion ● political feeling

We invite abstracts of 250 words that explore the ideas and implications (political, historical, literary, philosophical, aesthetic, economic, medical, scientific, and so forth) of Romantic affect, mood, and feeling.

Deadline for Abstracts: 1 March 2009

Please send abstracts to: westernromantics@gmail.com

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Some green thoughts in a green shade, finally

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The invitation to do this blog made me discover several things. One—I love blogging! Two—how great to discuss things with others in slow motion, with careful reading and quiet writing, from the comfort of my introverted indoor space. Kurt and Ash, Ron and Steve, and our readers and commenters, thank you all so much.

Another thing I learnt, as I struggled with blogging form: We owe it to non-humanities people to express our ideas in a way with which they can engage.

Ecological criticism is one mode in which we can do this, easily.

That doesn't mean dumbing down our arguments. It simply means being able to say them in a language that isn't an insider discourse. I very nearly said "jargon"—yikes!

I'm averse to "the jargon of authenticity." Ecocriticism is full of it. I want to make it safe to think ecology and think theory together, simultaneously.

I know what Kurt means. Yet, even though the right might use a “there is no nature” argument to support “drill, baby, drill,” we still owe it to people to tell them what we think is true. I don't think there is a nature. I don't think there ever was a nature. Capitalism didn't destroy it. You can't destroy something that doesn't exist. But capitalism certainly seems to be waging an unrelening war against lifeforms and the biosphere.

I believe we can explain this to people in a way that is as profound and disturbing as the best deconstruction, but in a way that non-scholars will get.

I also think we should be in the business of setting the scientific experimental agenda. Here's one for starters, with profound ecological consequences:

Is consciousness intentional?

You can read more about that one in The Ecological Thought when it comes out in 2009.

Who would like to start a web page where humanities scholars suggest experiments that don't automatically assume ideological things about reality?

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