The Joy of Colloquium: Recipes for Workshop Success

It’s that time of year when we come together with those close to us to celebrate, before the year ends, the things that really matter… like conference proposals (NASSR’s is due January 17th!), chapter drafts, readings from new books, and the other standard fare of the nineteenth-century working group. But concocting the perfect colloquium moves beyond a craft to become an art form, and it is the aim of this post to give you some pointers on preparing that rare colloquium that is truly — well done.

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Dissertating with a Hammer: An Idiot’s Generalizations on Scholarship and Activism

I begin with two passages that will be the epigraphs to my dissertation:

Few critics, I suppose, no matter what their political disposition, have ever been wholly blind to James’s greatest gifts, or even to the grandiose moral intention of these gifts … but by liberal critics James is traditionally put the ultimate question: of what use, of what actual political use, are his gifts and their intention? Granted that James was devoted to an extraordinary moral perceptiveness, granted, too, that moral perceptiveness has something to do with politics and the social life; of what possible practical value in our world of impending disaster can James’s work be? And James’s style, his characters, his subjects, and even his own social origin and the manner of his personal life are adduced to show that his work cannot endure the question.

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Trick yourself into productivity: the best technologies to keep you focused

‘Tis the season—to become a crazy hermit living under a pile of blankets and books as a tangle of charging cords threatens to spill your very full coffee mug or wine glass (or both, no judgment) onto your laptop. The worst time of the school semester is upon us as the holidays collide with final deadlines. Student grades need to be finalized and seminar papers written, all while family and friends  inundate you with invitations to various shenanigans. Personally, this is the time of year where I struggle to get everything done while still enjoying the holiday cheer and remaining sane. So I have compiled a list of the best technologies tested by yours truly to help you reach your deadlines, whatever they may be. Good luck! Continue reading

On First Looking into…Manfred

By Julia Malykh

The enchanting sensuality of Lord Byron’s closet drama Manfred (1816) lies in its depiction of a power struggle. On encountering the text, it is easy to underappreciate Byron’s magnetic innovation by writing off Manfred as a fictionalized account of the poet’s incestuous relationship with his half-sister Augusta Leigh—in keeping with his personal reputation as “mad, bad and dangerous to know.” Upon a closer look, however, it becomes clear that Byron’s dramatic poem is a series of tableaux depicting power struggles between a Byronic hero, Manfred, and a Byronic heroine, Astarte. Continue reading

Poem: Now

This is an older poem – not one explicitly written with anything to do with Romanticism in mind. But I think my mental image of the speaker owes a great deal to the mythic Romantic genius figure (as seen by himself, of course!). I’ve been starting to think about connections between Romanticism and current genre fiction – more to come!


Now, darling, you know that we’re living in sci-fi –
I have seen this city from the sky
And it’s the gleaming metropolis of everyone’s dreams.
This bonfire of lights below us seems
So alien – what strange planet do we walk
Across now?
Honey, I’m not going to talk
About an alien invasion,
How their spies (so adeptly disguised) are already in position;
I’m not going to try to tell you, dear, that we
Have robotic brains. You misunderstand me.
Listen: I come to you as a prophet to his people, glorious and
Holy, reaching out my hand
To you my flock, descending from the height of this airplane.
I deign
To tell you the truth, beloved (and how!) –
I have seen the future, and it is now.

Hero Worship, Discipleship, and the Romantic Imagination: On Spivak’s Aesthetic Education

“And so I go, asking the students to enter the 200-year-old idiomaticity of their national language in order to learn the change of mind that is involved in really making the canon change. I follow the conviction that I have always had, that we must displace our masters, rather than pretend to ignore them.” So writes Gayatri Spivak at the conclusion of a chapter entitled “The Double Bind Starts to Kick In” in her recent tome An Aesthetic Education in the Age of Globalization. Is Spivak too, I ask, such a master that we must displace if we are to abide by her own conviction? This is a question I want to pursue as I consider her treatment of British romanticism in this mammoth work. Continue reading

More Frankenstein(s): Cumberbatch, Miller, and the National Theatre

Like Arden, I, too, have been burning with curiosity about the recent critical reactions to several Frankenstein adaptations. But rather than valiantly sacrifice my time to the gods of Hollywood mediocrity as she so nobly does in her last post, I managed to escape the sub-par recreation of I, Frankenstein and instead turned my intrigue towards a much more mainstream and accepted performance: Danny Boyle’s 2011 National Theatre stage production of Frankenstein, featuring the incomparable Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. Continue reading

On Locating the Gothic and International Conference Travel

6185508We came from France and England, Scotland and Italy. We came from South Africa and America, Mexico and Denmark. We came from New Zealand and Australia and Poland and, of course, from Ireland. Gothic scholars from all corners of the globe, relocating themselves for the Locating the Gothic Conference and Festival, October 22-25, in Limerick, Ireland. I debated whether or not to blog about this conference, not because it wasn’t a great event (it was), but because it focused more on contemporary Gothic than Romantic. That being said, the format of the conference expanded beyond simply panels and keynotes, and is worth discussing as a conference experience in itself. So I will spend half of this post giving it a brief review. In the second half, I want to broaden out into the topic of international conferences and the dos and don’ts that will help you survive them, especially considering our next NASSR will be more international for many (not for our Canadian readers, of course!). Much of this advice could apply to any conference to which you would have to do significant travel. Continue reading

Understanding the Past through Sculpture

I reach over my workdesk to find a suitable bookmark. I come up with a postcard of the Carlsbad Caverns, and I place it into the exhibition catalogue that I’m engrossed in. As a slight aside and a confession, I have stacks of old postcards. I’ve been collecting them since my teens. I have always loved their bygone-era designs, but now find that I’ve been literally taking pictures of places I’d hoped to see someday. Greek sculptures, highway motels, the desert southwest of the United States, and the White Cliffs of Dover are just some of the amassed places or experiences I’d hoped to have. Continue reading

Resources for Graduate Students of Romanticism