Report on ‘Romantic Landscapes: Geography and Travel’, 23 Nov 2015

Our second CRECS event of the year was ‘Romantic Landscapes: Geography and Travel’, where we gathered to discuss the centrality of travel, topography and landscape in the Romantic period.

Jamie CastellJamie Castell, of Cardiff’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy, began by announcing that his intention, and hope, for the evening’s discussion was that it would persuade us all to do some of our own Romantic wandering.

To illustrate the concept of the Romantic wanderer, Jamie turned to Caspar David Fredrick’s Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818). It portrays a classic Romantic scene of a lone male, facing outward into a swirling cloud of mist that partly obscures the mountain range. Jamie suggested that there are several important considerations we might bring to an image such as this. Firstly, that it might serve as an archetype for a certain type of liberty: the freedom of walking in the mountains juxtaposed with the state of surveillance that the aftermath of the French Revolution brought to Britain. Secondly, that the mind is just as important an aspect as the physicality of the landscape: classic Romantic outward looking leads to inward revelation. It was at this point that Jamie indulged us all with a delightful pun—all Romantic wandering is also a’wondering. A humorous addition it may have been, but nevertheless an important contemplation when considering Romantic poetry. Continue reading

Visiting Speaker, 1 Dec 2015: Jennie Batchelor on The Lady’s Magazine

Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent) will be presenting her paper, ‘“The world is a large volume”: The Lady’s Magazine and Romantic Print Culture’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 1 December 2015. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.01, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Abstract

2015.03.batchelorThis talk examines the position of the Lady’s Magazine: or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex (1770–1832) in Romantic-era print culture and the scholarship surrounding it. Aside from the periodical’s extraordinary popularity and longevity, a number of ambitious claims have been made for the Lady’s Magazine’s historical and literary importance. Chief amongst these is Edward Copeland’s 1995 claim that the Lady’s Magazine defined women’s engagement with the world in the Romantic period. This argument is as seductive as it is unsubstantiated. Eighteenth-century periodicalists commonly overlook the title, which emerges after the often lamented if somewhat exaggerated demise of the essay-periodical epitomised by The Tatler and The Spectator. Romanticists, meanwhile, have tended to privilege the self-professedly ‘literary’ magazines of the turn of the century, in which writers such as Hazlitt and Scott, well known for their work in other more canonical genres, were involved.

This paper seeks to address this oversight by explicating how the magazine self-consciously and strategically positioned itself in relationship to the wider and highly competitive literary marketplace in which it thrived against the odds. In making these claims, I draw on initial research findings from our two-year Leverhulme-funded Research Project Grant: ‘The Lady’s Magazine (1770–1818): Understanding the Emergence of a Genre’. The project offers a detailed bibliographical, statistical and literary-critical analysis of one of the first recognisably modern magazines for women from its inception in 1770. In its three-pronged book history/literary critical/digital humanities approach, the project, like this talk, aims to answer two main research questions: 1) What made the Lady’s Magazine one of the most popular and enduring titles of its day?; 2) What effects might an understanding of the magazine’s content, production and circulation have upon own conceptions of Romantic-era print culture, a field still struggling fully to emerge from the shadows of canonical figures and genres?

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Romantic Landscapes: Geography and Travel, 23 Nov 2015

Our second CRECS event will focus on the centrality of travel, topography and landscape in the Romantic period. Landscape is perhaps the paradigmatic conceit of the Romantic moment, permeating every aspect of the literature, art and music of the era. It features as more than just a setting, but conveys a complex set of ideas, moods and associations that are underpinned by a distinct philosophical perspective. Landscape comes to register the expansive imagination in a multitude of works, ranging from the sublime gothic landscape to the picturesque haunts of sentimental writers, from the famous peregrinations of Jane Austen’s heroines to the rustic pathways of the Lake Poets.

Travel can be multinational and globetrotting, echoing the significance of the Grand Tour as an essential part of an elite education, bringing together nature and culture in complex and didactic ways. It can also be rather more delimited, so that the highways and byways of village life come to trace the circulatory system of a domestic ideology that enshrined, for the first time, a meaningful conception of ‘Britishness’ in the context of the Napoleonic wars. Continue reading