I am excited to announce that we have a new seminar series coming up. This will run through the academic year and begin with the three talks listed below. These will all take place on Zoom on Mondays between 5-6pm. If you would like to attend a session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to request the Zoom link. All are very welcome.
9th November.Dr. Simon Marsden Apocalypse Not Quite Yet: Waiting for the End in Mid-Victorian Literature
23rd NovDr. Helen Kingstone How to get an overview on the Napoleonic Wars: from panorama paintings to Thomas Hardy’s The Dynasts.
7th DecDr. Gavin Budge Charlotte M Yonge, Religious Conversion and Victorian Modernity
On Friday 8 January 2021 the University of Glasgow School of Critical studies held a symposium on 200 years of the 1820 Scottish Radical Uprising, which was attended by around one hundred people from all over the world. This online event included a lecture by Professor John Gardner on theatrical responses to a group of men attempting to take the Carron Iron Works in 1820. This became known as the Battle of Bonnymuir. You can view the lecture here
Who invented fun? When did the night out begin? The myth of the Victorians as po-faced, pleasure-denying prudes dies hard despite the best efforts of nineteenth century scholars who has have endeavoured to show how varied and complex the period actually was. Rohan McWilliam argues that one dimension of Victorian culture that we need to consider is the way in which it was responsible for the construction of distinct pleasure districts that have often proved enduring.
McWilliam has just published the first volume of a history of the West End of London, probably the world’s premier pleasure district and in many ways a Victorian invention. This is the first ever history of the West End and covers the period from 1800-1914 (the second volume will move from the Great War to Covid). Up to the early 1850s, the West End mainly served the entertainment needs of the aristocracy and the leisured class. It was in the mid-Victorian years, however, that leisure was truly democratised and the West End was opened up to the multitude. Cockneys would make the jaunt ‘up west’ whilst shy suburbanites would prowl the streets in the hope of finding Bohemia. Gilded Age millionaires from the United States would stay at the Savoy whilst earnest students crowded the balcony of Her Majesty’s Theatre to see Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s latest spectacular production of Shakespeare. Dr. Jekyll could saunter past the smart shops of Piccadilly but Mr Hyde knew that the flesh pots of Soho or the Haymarket were not far away.
The book takes in the histories of theatres, sites of curiosity, grand hotels, restaurants, art galleries, casinos, panoramas, music halls, department stores, the sex industry and street life. By 1900 the West End was truly the heart of empire. It was also part of a cultural conversation with comparable areas in New York and Paris. Developments in entertainment in the centre of London had a global reach. The West End is a lens through which we can view Victorian lives and see them in new ways.
The book was reviewed by the leading historian of London, Jerry White in the Times Literary Supplement. Professor White described it as ‘sparkling’ and ‘a triumph’.
Rohan McWilliam is Professor of Modern British History at Anglia Ruskin University and a former President of the British Association for Victorian Studies.
As previously outlined on this blog, Professor John Gardner is undertaking a Leverhulme funded project that investigates links between Engineering and Literary Cultures in the first half of the nineteenth century. Please click here to see the website for this project. Research progress is outlined here as well as past and forthcoming talks.
There are a number of talks coming up, some associated with this project and others with John Gardner’s other networks and job as editor of a journal on Charles and Mary Lamb. Here are the details:
19 December, 14.00: Professor Greg Dart on the new edition of the works of Charles and Mary Lamb. This is a zoom Lecture, so please contact Felicity James at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
Students and early career people can now join the Lamb Society for only £5 per year. This includes invites to all events and two copies of the journal each year. You can join here.
8 January: 200 years of the 1820 Scottish Radical Uprising, including lecture by Professor John Gardner on the plays of 1820. You can get a ticket here:
16 January, 14.00: Professor Rohan McWilliam on the West End in the Age of Charles Lamb. This is a zoom Lecture, so please contact Felicity James at email@example.com if you would like to attend.
4 March, 12.00: Professor John Gardner on ‘The Leverhulme project, Measurement, Tolerance and Form in the first half of the nineteenth century’. At Oxford Brookes, Materialities. Please contact Oxford Brookes here if you would like to attend.
Dr Koenraad Claes (@KoenraadClaes) joined the ARU English department in January to temporarily fill in for Prof John Gardner, who is currently away on his Leverhulme Research Project ‘Machines Made of Words’. Before moving to Cambridge, Koenraad held research and teaching positions at Ghent University (Belgium) and the University of Kent. He will be with us teaching Romantic and Victorian literature in the BA and MA courses until July 2021, and as a new Co-Director for the 19th Century Studies Unit he looks forward to meeting you at events in the next academic year, whatever form these will take!
Koenraad’s research interests are mainly in long-nineteenth-century British literature and periodical history. His first monograph The Late-Victorian Little Magazine came out with Edinburgh University Press in 2018 but only last month became available in paperback, and he is working on his second book, which will discuss the relationship between conservative political discourse and narrative form between the Storming of the Bastille and the Second Reform Act (1867). He serves as managing editor of the open-access journal Authorship and as biographies acquisitions editor for Yellow Nineties 2.0; drop him a line if you want to talk about either.
The most fun thing Koenraad has done in a long time was this interview with our friends at the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers. Which Victorians would you want to Zoom with?
Naturecultures Across Time and Space: John Clare’s Artistic Legacy in Ecopoetry Written by Children
Expanding the existing accounts of John Clare’s poetry and its impact on contemporary culture, Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak proposes to look at Clare’s output in light of ecopoetry created by pupils attending John Clare Primary school in Helpston, Clare’s birthplace. Every year, all the children write poems on a topic selected by the John Clare Society and participate in a competition it sponsors. Currently, circa 600 poems are stored in folders available at the school’s reception, but they are not publicized in any way. Justyna’s preliminary research reveals that the children’s poems, like Clare’s poetry, describe a sense of the relationality and interconnectedness of all existence across different scales. They also express the young authors’ involvement with the human and non-human communities that are close to them. Arguing for the recognition of children as cultural producers and creators of ideas and texts, Justyna explores how the vitality and agency of Clare’s poetry emerge through its interactions with the children’s poems, resulting in mutual generativity and an embodied relational ecology. She develops a semiotic-material approach based on new materialism to show how multiple collective and individual encounters between Clare’s works, the children’s poems and contemporary children, adults and their lifeworlds result in new entanglements of matter and meaning and shed light on our participation in ecological networks and relationalities connecting the human and the non-human.
Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak is Associate Professor of Literature and Director of the Center for Young People’s Literature and Culture at the Institute of English Studies, University of Wroclaw, Poland. She is the author of Yes to Solidarity, No to Oppression: Radical Fantasy Fiction and Its Young Readers (2016). She is a Kosciuszko, Fulbright and Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow. Since 2017 she has served as a member of the executive board of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature. She is now a visiting researcher at Anglia Ruskin University, working on Ecopoetic Entanglements: Children’s Poetry Mobilizing John Clare’s Artistic Legacy, a project funded by the Bekker Programme of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA).
Emeritus Professor Mary Joannou will be coming to give a talk about her current biography project on Clara Rackham and all very welcome to attend. Her talk is entitled and will take place on Monday 27th January between 4.45-5.45 in Helmore 114.
We have an exiting line of speakers planned for this trimester. All the sessions will begin at 5pm unless otherwise stated and I’ll post up further details about the speaker and the talk in the week/s leading up to it. All are welcome. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or queries.
Mon 27th Jan (NB this talk will begin at 4.45)
Professor Mary Joannou
Writing a Woman’s Life: The Biography of Clara Rackham (1875-1966: Suffragist, Socialist, Social Reformer)
Mon 10th Feb
Listening to the Trees: Vegetal Otherness in the poems of Thomas Hardy.
Mon 17th Feb
Dr. Abderrezzaq Ghafsi
Charles Dickens and Religion
Mon 24th Feb
Dr Koenraad Claes
‘To wait the course of events’: Walter Scott and Counter Revolutionary Narrative
Mon 9th March
Dr. Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak
Naturecultures Across Time and Space: John Clare’s Artistic Legacy in Ecopoetry Written by Children
Mon 30th March
This talk has been cancelled because of the situation with COVID 19. It will be rescheduled for a later date.
Dr Gavin Budge
Charlotte M Yonge and the Juvenilization of the Nineteenth-Century Novel