Category Archives: Uncategorized

Paper Consciousness: Professor Deidre Lynch Performs a “Bookish Ontology” on the Nineteenth-Century Album

Recently the English department at UW-Madison hosted Professor Deidre Lynch of Harvard to present new work that appears to evolve from her last publication Loving Literature: A Cultural History (2015, Chicago UP). You should recognize the guest lecturer as one of the most influence contributors to 19th c. and Romantic studies. Earlier works remain frequently cited in contemporary scholarship, most notably her work on Austen and The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Cultural and the Business of Inner Meaning (1998). In consideration of blog readers interests in book history, archival methods, material culture, and all things 19th c. I’ve provide a brief summary of the talk title “Paper Slips: The Nineteenth-Century Album and Other Misadventures in Book-keeping” and offer comments on how the work Prof. Lynch presented could inspire scholarship to come, or at least re-think what we write in our diaries.

Continue reading Paper Consciousness: Professor Deidre Lynch Performs a “Bookish Ontology” on the Nineteenth-Century Album

Fangirl(s): Lord Byron edition

I’ll seize any chance I can get to talk about Lord Byron’s fan letters – and with the somewhat flimsy excuse of the 224th anniversary of the publication of Cantos I &II of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage just around the corner (March 20, to be exact), now seems like a perfect time. Lord Byron received fan letters? Of course he did!

replica by Thomas Phillips, oil on canvas, circa 1835 (1813)(1813 portrait of Byron in Albanian dress, by John Phillips)

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“The world’s first instant mashed potato factory,” and other Romantic-era food innovations

As a lover of anecdotes in a field (English) that doesn’t always embrace them in its scholarship, I often come upon delightful details I want to share, but can’t—in my dissertation, at least. So, it makes me especially happy to have the opportunity to write for this blog, as I get the chance to relate all the fun facts I’ve been learning in my food studies-related reading. Today, I’m expanding from my previously England-centric scope to delve into E.C. Spary’s recent book Feeding France: New Sciences of Food, 1760–1815.51Nvpf-pocL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ Continue reading “The world’s first instant mashed potato factory,” and other Romantic-era food innovations

Five Great Things about Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility (1995)

The actor Alan Rickman passed away on January 14, 2016. He played many roles—most people probably know him best as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies—but to me, he will always be Colonel Brandon, a role he played brilliantly in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995). The film departs from the novel in many ways, as all adaptations do, but it remains one of my favourite adaptations of Austen, in part because of Rickman’s performance. So, I’d like to share five things I love about Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon.

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New Initiative: Romantic Bicentennials!

I’m pleased to announce a new initiative sponsored by the Keats-Shelley Association of America and the Byron Society of America: ROMANTIC BICENTENNIALS! This project offers scholars, readers, and the general public the opportunity to get involved and to receive updates about annual symposia, related conferences,  networked events, and other media celebrating 200 years of Romanticism.

The project’s main website (still under construction) is located here: http://dev-romantic-bicentenials.pantheon.io/. On the website, read about each day’s events 200 years ago, and stay informed about current scholarly events celebrating bicentennial anniversaries throughout 2016 to 2024 (Geneva to Missolonghi). There will be one major sponsored conference each year: this year, it’ll be on May 21st, at the New York Public Library, celebrating the Genevan Summer of 1816.

Reach out if you would like to get involved — we’re looking for people to live-tweet events with our hashtag #‎Romantics200‬! We are also looking for scholars to participate in the annual symposia, as well as to attend the networked events throughout the year. To stay in touch, connect with us through our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/romanticbicentennials/. (A twitter handle is coming soon). And write to me if you have questions!

Charles Dickens vs. Leigh Hunt: Charity, Social Reform, and the Problem of Hell

My sister and I have two very important holiday traditions: 1) we always go to a haunted corn maze before Halloween, and 2) we always watch The Muppet Christmas Carol before Christmas. We don’t often admit to the second tradition (and when we do, we kind of pretend that we only enjoy the Muppets “ironically”), but it’s something we’ve done for as long as I can remember. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until Katie and I are sitting on the couch, singing along to the song “Marley and Marley” while two enchained muppet ghosts rattle around the TV screen, bemoaning their eternal punishment.

marley-and-marley-o

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Romantics as Rappers, Superheros, Real Estate Tycoons, and Immortal Allusions of Power

hqdefaultThere’s a scene in an episode of the animated series Samurai Jack where the Scotsman encounters an old man in the port who wishes him to tell him a tale. When the Scotsman asks what it is there’s a long pause before the old man cackles out, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner!”

The Scotsman then bellows, “Heard it!” and shoves him out of the way. Continue reading Romantics as Rappers, Superheros, Real Estate Tycoons, and Immortal Allusions of Power

The Resonance of the Veil: Some Thoughts about Methodology

For most of my academic career, I didn’t think much about methodology. I read, I think, I write (and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite). This changed when I took an introductory Digital Humanities course, a survey of digital tools and methods. My biggest takeaway from this course (other than that computers are frustrating) was that methodology affects not only the results of research, but also the way we think about our data and the types of questions we ask. This not a new idea for many scholars, I know, but for those of us used to the read-think-write strategy, it bears thinking about.

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Review: The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant by Robert Doran

sublimeAny scholar in any discipline with even a passing familiarity with the Romantic era knows how central the idea of the sublime is to Romantic thought. But exactly what is the sublime? The sense of awe and terror that overwhelmed Percy Shelley’s mind and spirit upon first looking at Mont Blanc? Wordsworth’s epiphany of cosmic truth upon his return to Tintern Abbey? Any number of wondrous and terrible events that befell Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner on his adventures? Well, yes and no. For these are merely descriptions of sublime events, and do not in themselves provide any sort of qualitative definition. Before reading Robert Doran’s sweeping and erudite study, I’m not sure I could have answered this question. To be honest, I still don’t know if I can answer it satisfactorily, since by its nature the sublime has a way of both transcending and subverting things. But Robert Doran’s The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant at least provides a rich and detailed map of the the subject, and even if the map isn’t exactly the territory it’s still invaluable to a scholar of Romantic ideology. Continue reading Review: The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant by Robert Doran

Wordsworth, Cavarero, and the Voice

As fall returns, so does my teaching voice. I don’t talk much during the summer. In its disuse, my voice grows soft and listless. Speaking becomes slightly—just slightly, just at moments—unintuitive. The first words out of my mouth each morning make my body feel like a chance habitation, an improbable accident that naturalizes itself over the course of the day. The intuition at the core of this dissociation is probably accurate, except that it implies I’m somehow distinct from my body, somehow less of an accident than my body.

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