Current Research

On this page, you can find details about ongoing research activities by members of CRECS. The details below have been divided into a number of overarching ‘themes’ that suggest the ways in which our current research can be characterized, although these boundaries are permeable and often overlap with each other.

Book History and Material Cultures

A key strength within CRECS is the critical mass in studies relating to the history of the book that we have accumulated since the founding of the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research (CEIR) in 1997. Activity in this field focuses on histories of reading and publishing, as well as archival work on marginalia in 18th-century print culture, as well as new directions in the study of textiles and fabrics in the Romantic period. In addition, researchers in CEIR are involved in a large digital humanities database project, Lost Visions, which catalogues over one million images from the British Library: a large proportion of these images are drawn from the long 18th century. Finally, another key area of expertise lies in our work on editing and textual scholarship, with CRECS members having produced or working on editions of Mary Brunton, Thomas Moore and Thomas Love Peacock in recent years, as well as offering training to PhDs on the principles and practices of scholarly editing.

  • Bill Bell is currently completing Crusoe’s Books: Journeys through the Textual Imagination, a study of itinerant reading communities.
  • Melanie Bigold is preparing a joint biography of George Ballard and Elizabeth Elstob, as well as leading a project on marginalia and provenance in the Cardiff Rare Books collection. Updates on cataloguing as well as blog posts on projects related to the books can be found in the Cardiff Book History blog and Cardiff Special Collections and Archives blog.
  • Anthony Mandal is collaborating with Franz Potter (National University) and Nicky Lloyd (Bath Spa University) on a 230,000-word reference work entitled The Palgrave History of Gothic Publishing: The Business of Gothic Fiction, 1764–1835, due for submission in late 2016/early 2017. In addition, he is preparing an article that explores the publishing networks and fiction of Elizabeth Meeke, the most prolific novelist of the period. He is also preparing the second of two special issues on Romantic visual cultures for journal, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, which will be due for publication in 2015.
  • Jane Moore is beginning a new project that focuses on the representation and uses of fabrics and textiles in the Romantic period.
  • Damian Walford Davies is preparing a new scholarly edition of The Misfortunes of Elphin (1829), vol. 5 of the Cambridge Edition of the Novels of Thomas Love Peacock.

Discourses of Identity in the Long 18th Century

Work by members of CRECS focuses on a number of intersecting areas that relate to the ways in which gender and identity were generated and received during the period. In particular, this resolves around tracing the wider dynamics of gender as represented through the popular writing in the form of fiction and sports journalism, as well as more widely diffused discourses such as Enlightenment philosophy and sensibility, the law and medicine.

  • Sophie Coulombeau is preparing a monograph, provisionally entitled Romantic Onomastics: Naming and Identity in Britain 1779–1814, which argues for the centrality of acts of naming to negotiations of personal identity, both within imaginative literature of the period and within its conditions of material production. The monograph explores the relationship between naming and identity formation in the writing and the publication practices of authors including: Laurence Sterne, Henry Fielding, Elizabeth Craven, Frances Burney, Hester Thrale Piozzi, Edmund Burke, Charlotte Smith, Thomas Paine, George Dyer and John Thelwall.
  • Martin Kayman is presently working on the historical and theoretical relations between law and literature in the eighteenth century.
  • Jane Moore is preparing individual essays on topics ranging from British masculinity and ‘The Fancy’ during the Regency period to glee clubs in the 18th century and Wordsworth’s tour of Ireland in the 19th. She is also bringing to fruition a monograph on Thomas Moore’s literary legacy in the Romantic period.

Romanticism, Landscape and the Natural World

A defining aspect of the late 18th century and its Romantic legacy is the emphasis on the writer’s engagement with the natural world, which manifested itself in a number of field of cultural production, not least through poetry, science and travelogue. CRECS members are taking fresh new perspectives on the Romantic period, by exploring the complex paradigms that emerged between various boundaries: human and animal, local and global, economic and natural.

  • James Castell is completing a monograph that focuses on ‘animal life’ in Wordsworth’s poetry, building on recent research concerning the relationship between Romantic literature and science, the development of animal rights movements in the period and renewed continental philosophical interest in animals and the nonhuman. Entitled Wordsworth and Animal Life, it will contribute to a number of contemporary debates on literature and the nonhuman, as well as attempting to think in a new way about Wordsworth’s reputation as a philosophical nature poet.
  • Damian Walford Davies is currently completing the co-authored final volume of the Oxford Literary History of Wales, of which he is General Editor. He is also preparing an article on Romantic-period cartography, as well as developing a project that explores the ways in which birds figure as both natural phenomena and symbols in the literature and culture of the Romantic period.

Creative Writing and Romantic Legacies

In recent years, we have augmented our rich and diverse activities in creative writing with the appointment of writers working at the intersection of Romanticism and creative practice. In so doing, they see to explore the ways in which an understanding Romantic legacy can stimulate new ways of engaging with creativity in the present day.

  • Sophie Coulombeau is writing her second novel, a historical fiction set in 1790s London called Point No Point, which has received grants from Arts Council England and New Writing North.
  • Damian Walford Davies is completing an edited collection entitled Counterfactual Romanticism, which explores the what ifs of literary history in order get a fresh purchase on the material contexts of Romantic literary production.