Poem: Tulip Festival

Spring came almost shockingly fast to Ottawa this year, and the annual tulip festival has been going on for the past week. I walk past it on my way to and from work every day and can’t help feeling a little overwhelmed, although not quite willing to be as effusive as a real Romantic would be. Line 12 of this poem is referencing a bit the poem “Tall Tales” by one of my favourite poets, Gwendolyn MacEwen: “Poets and men like me who fight for something/contained in words, but not words” (ll. 15-16).

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The Art of the Book and Romanticizing Landscape

For several months now, I have had the pleasure to work on a project with my friend and fellow artist Cat Snapp. On a Texas summer evening, we discussed over dinner our overlapping interests in the outdoors and the influence it has on our work. Through connection to the geological past or ties to personal culture, we each use print media to speak about the personal, historical, and psychological relationships we have with the world around us. At a certain point, we realized that the project that would best unite our voices and express the feeling we wanted was a letterpress printed artist’s book. It has the power to be intimate with the reader, yet it transcends the starkness of simple text on a page – it can reach into places travelled and landscapes desired.

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Guest Post: A “Radiant” Digital Edition of Wordsworth’s Prelude?

By Peter N. Miller

Dedicated readers of William Wordsworth’s The Prelude must at some point grapple with the disconcerting question of which version of the poem they’re looking at.

In 1799 Wordsworth produced a fair-copy manuscript of what would later be called The Two-Part Prelude. Between 1801 and 1805 the poet drastically revised this material to create a longer autobiographical poem, which consisted at various points of five books, eight books, and thirteen books. Wordsworth continued to revise the work over the coming decades, breaking Book 10 in two in 1829 to create a fourteen-book Prelude. His most substantial final revisions came in 1839, yet the poem was still not published, in any form, until shortly after the poet’s death, in 1850. To confuse matters further, Wordsworth never actually called The Prelude by that name. For him it was always “the poem to Coleridge.” The poet’s widow, Mary Hutchinson, suggested the title The Prelude. There is not a poem called The Prelude, it would seem, but multiple poems, each with a certain claim to legitimacy. Continue reading

Romantic Web Communities

One of the great advantages we have as scholars is the opportunity to form communities beyond our institutions — not just at annual conferences in remote locales, but also in ongoing conversations on the web. These online communities are fora for scholarly dialogue and informal queries, requests for crowdfunding special projects and historical sites, and repositories of archival material. Here’s a brief roundup of selected sites, listservs, and communities available to Romanticists (and if you know of more, please get in touch!).

Academic listservs:

(1) NASSR List — the list of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (subscription required). The list is frequented by many major scholars in the field, but also graduate students and junior faculty; this is a particularly excellent resource for answers to obscure and arcane historical questions, and for links to major awards and opportunities in the field. Continue reading

NASSR 2015 Program & Pedagogy Contest

I’m delighted to announce that NASSR 2015 has released a program! Highlights of the August 13-16 conference in Winnipeg will include: tours of the archives of the Hudson’s Bay Company (the world’s oldest continuously-operating corporation) and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; plenaries by Joel Faflak (Western) and Nancy Yousef (CUNY-Baruch); and an Aboriginal Rights Roundtable. Also of note — in addition to participating in many panels, the members of the NASSR Graduate Student Caucus will be hosting a professionalization panel and a pub night.

I also have an update about the NASSR Pedagogy Contest, sponsored by the NASSR Advisory Board, the NASSR 2015 Organizing Committee, and Romantic Circles. Please send in your syllabuses by June 5th to be considered for the Pedagogy award (which comes with a cash prize of $250). Here are the instructions:


Please send a document of between 3-5 pages to nassrpedagogycontest@gmail.com by June 5th.  Please include a cover letter with identifying information, which should be left off all other documents.  Initial queries and questions are welcomed.

Potential materials might include but are not limited to:
– A cover letter and explanation of the submission, including an argument as to the course or project’s pedagogical innovation and benefits
– Syllabus or parts of a syllabus
– Assignment sheets
– Multimedia or digital materials

Will the Real Mr. Darcy Please Stand Up?

Jane Austen was in the news again last week—I know this, because when I log onto Google News, it offers tailored entries based on my previous web searches and sticks them right at the top of the feed. I honestly don’t know whether to be delighted or terribly disturbed by this fact. But artificial intelligence issues aside, I found this most recent bout of Austenmania to be quite a curious one.

It’s not a rare occasion these days that Miss Jane appears in the news, especially during this decade that celebrates “200 years since…” each of her famous tomes, published during the 1810s. Austen’s popularity endures: in 2013, Britain announced it will finally commemorate her in currency (Austen will appear on the 10-pound note, beginning in 2017) and last month she even got a musical in Chicago.

The most recent news cycle that got my attention (to be fair, it was hardly a sidebar item) highlights a new book that claims to make a striking and long sought-after discovery: the “true” identity of the real-life Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy—and (sadly) it’s not Colin FirthContinue reading

Guest Post: Reading, or Ardor

By Andrew Welch

Rereading Keats’s Poems of 1817, I’m struck by how many pieces belong to the noble & distinguished tradition of poetry that frets about its own inadequacy. Keats begins “To My Brother George” in accordance:

Full many a dreary hour have I past,
My brain bewilder’d, and my mind o’ercast
With heaviness

What’s wrong, dear Keats?

                                    I’ve thought
That I should never hear Apollo’s song
That still the murmur of the honey bee
Would never teach a rural song to me:
That the bright glance from beauty’s eyelids slanting
Would never make a lay of mine enchanting,
Or warm my breast with ardour to unfold
Some tale of love and arms in time of old.

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The Visionary Power of M.H. Abrams

I happened to be revisiting The Prelude this morning in preparation for a class when I came home to learn of the passing of M.H. Abrams. At the bottom of the obituary that I read, The Ithaca Voice pulled together memories of Abrams that were posted for his 100th birthday celebration a few years back. E.D. Hirsch wrote this:

“Here are 3 Abrams-isms lodged in my memory after many decades.

After a wayward 2 years at Cornell, including some disagreements with my sophomore English professor, I came to see you (around 1947/8) about an honors program you were starting. After a few minutes of chat, I confessed that I had just made a C in sophomore English. You said “You’re in. It takes a lot of talent to make a C in that course.”

My favorite scholarly Abrams-ism: good criticism requires “a keen eye for the obvious.”

My favorite airport-waiting-room Abrams-ism: I ask you: Have you read “A Sea of Thighs?” You replied without a pause: “No, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of that one.”

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Bring Out Yer Dead: Why Edinburgh’s “Public” Dissections are Important

A Lecture at the Hunterian Anatomy School
A Lecture at the Hunterian Anatomy School

Last month, word began to spread that Edinburgh University will be offering anatomy lessons. This does not sound all that unusual: it’s one of the oldest and most prestigious medical schools in the world, of course the study of anatomy should be at the forefront of the curriculum. What makes this exciting, however, is that the university is offering anatomy lessons using real cadavers, and the lessons will be open to the public. The first mention I saw of this boasted that this is the “First public anatomy lectures planned in the UK since Burke and Hare,” referring to the infamous 1828 case in which William Burke and William Hare delivered over a dozen bodies through the back door of Dr. Robert Knox’s dissection theater for use in teaching anatomy, bodies that were killed for that very purpose (and for the meager sum it paid). Continue reading

Guest Post: Ways for English Graduate Students to Scare Landlords with Terrible Fridge Magnet Poetry

By Katherine Magyarody-Sigal

A few days ago, I climbed the stairs to my apartment and encountered my landpeople, who let me know that they had been in to check on some electrical wiring. They are extremely nice and shy about coming into our space. Anyways, I made it up the final flight of stairs and dumped my bookbag onto the kitchen table. And I looked over. And I froze. And I hoped that in their journey across the apartment, they did not look at the kitchen table and did not see the cookie sheet there, on which I had composed the worst fridge-magnet poetry ever. Poetry…not even poetry…words that makes me seem delusional, lovelorn, possibly homicidal. It begins:

if nevermore
I mourn that kiss
my silent scream
will make him howl Continue reading

Resources for Graduate Students of Romanticism