Excursion Report: CRECS Goes Gothic at Strawberry Hill House, 16 May 2017

Horace Walpole, painted by John Giles Eccardt in 1754.

On 1 March, 2015 the Walpole Trust reopened Strawberry Hill House to the public. As the former home of Horace Walpole, famed (and famously eccentric) author of the first Gothic novel, the house has been a popular tourist destination since it was first built up in 1749.

At noon on 16 May 2017, twenty-three students and scholars from Cardiff University stepped blinking into the parking lot of Strawberry Hill House, out of the darkened bus that had carried them from rainy Wales. The weather in Twickenham was hardly Gothic-appropriate, but since the tour of the house had been arranged for the late afternoon, we had several hours to eat our bag lunches, stretch our legs in Strawberry Hill’s gardens, and snag a leisurely drink along the sunny banks of the Thames. By the time we returned to the House at 4pm, the group was happy, slightly sunburnt and ready to be thrilled, amazed and educated about Walpole’s ‘little Gothic castle’. Continue reading

Gothic Revival: CRECS Tours Strawberry Hill House, 16 May 2017

Join the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS) on 16 May 2017 for an exciting excursion, as we visit the Gothic Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, a modern architectural marvel. With its arches and turrets, its elaborate windows and gables, and its bone-white exterior, Strawberry Hill is a bizarre cross between a Gothic castle and a Disney one. Until 1797, it was also the home of the Gothic novelist Horace Walpole.

Constructed in stages between 1749 and 1776, Strawberry Hill has the distinction of being the first house built in the medieval style without using any old materials—a self-conscious work of Gothic fakery. This makes it the perfect match for Walpole, its original architect. Victorian scholar Thomas Macaulay famously called Walpole ‘the most eccentric, the most artificial, the most fastidious, the most capricious, of men’. Walpole was inspired to make multiple, wild renovations to Strawberry Hill during his lifetime, and the house inspired his writing in return: most famously, The Castle of Otranto (1764). Continue reading

Second Annual CRECS Conference, 17 May 2017

The Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth Century Seminar (CRECS) invites you to join us for our second Annual Conference on Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

CRECS exists to support and stimulate interest and discussion in Romantic and Eighteenth Century Studies at Cardiff University. On Wednesday 17 May 2017, we will be holding an exciting daylong event in Cardiff’s Special Collections and Archives to showcase the interesting work that takes place at Cardiff and to consider a few different approaches to the period. Continue reading

2016/17 CRECS Programme now available

We are delighted to announce our programme for the forthcoming academic year, 2016-2017. Events are usually held on Mondays, begin at 5.15pm, take place in Cardiff University’s Special Collections or the John Percival building and are followed by a drinks reception. Information about each event will be publicized on the CRECS blog in advance. All are welcome, but we warmly encourage undergraduates and MA students to attend in order to learn more about our research into the eighteenth century and Romantic period .

Founding members of CRECS are Dr Melanie Bigold, Dr James Castell, Dr Sophie Coulombeau, Alison HarveyProf. Anthony Mandal, Dr Jane Moore and Prof. Garthine Walker. You can contact any of us with questions about the programme.

We are currently looking for under- and postgraduate students from Cardiff University to join the CRECS team, assist with organising events and help us to manage our blog and social media. Please get in touch with one of us if you would like to be involved! Continue reading

Kirsty McHugh, ‘Manuscript Travel Accounts of Scotland and Wales’

Kirsty McHugh is a first-year doctoral research student at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies. She is part of the AHRC Curious Travellers project. Here, she adapts her paper from the inaugural CRECS Conference for our blog.

My research focuses on manuscript journals, diaries and letters recording the experiences of individuals and groups travelling in Scotland and Wales in the Romantic period. Since beginning my research degree in October 2015 I’ve become aware of the unique opportunities that exploring this topic affords, but also its challenges—in part, due to the nature of travel writing, but also because existing research has been largely based on published travel writing. Here I offer a brief overview of where my research has led me thus far. Continue reading

Jannat Ahmed, ‘The Men of Regency Romance’

Jannat Ahmed, a third-year English Literature undergraduate at Cardiff University, adapts her paper from the inaugural CRECS Conference for the CRECS blog.

Jeffrey Weeks in his book, Sex, Politics and Society (2012: 49), writes:

From the 1860s there was a new cult of masculinity in the public schools. Thomas Arnold’s emphasis on spiritual autonomy and intellectual maturity in the first half of the century was increasingly replaced by a new stress on physical characteristics, on the demonstration of pure willpower. […] The model of the early public school was the monastery. The model of the later public school was definitely military. While women were increasingly associated with weakness and emotion, by 1860 men no longer dared embrace in public or shed tears, precisely because it was a mark of femininity. A variety of male clubs sprang up which emphasised the elements of male bonding. And with the new stress on games and militaristic training came transparent chimes of imperialism. Sexuality, race and empire were inextricably bound together.

In light of Weeks’ distinction between the judgement of men pre- and post-1860, I read Jane Austen, a lauded novelist of the long eighteenth century against Georgette Heyer, an overlooked novelist of the twentieth century.

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Fig. 1. Jane Austen (1775–1817)

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Fig. 2. Georgette Heyer (1902–1974)

Continue reading

Ella Morrish, ‘Hannah More: The Politics of Liberty’

Ella Morrish, a third-year English Literature undergraduate at Cardiff University, adapts her paper from the inaugural CRECS Conference for the CRECS Blog.

‘… the most sensible females, when they turn their attention to political subjects, are more uniformly on the side of liberty than the other sex.’—George Dyer, ‘On Liberty’ (1792)

But what do we mean by liberty?

John Barrell regards the late eighteenth century as a period of linguistic uncertainty, when ‘every moral and political word had a thousand shades of meaning’ (Barrell, 2000). Supposedly, the government were publishing manipulated definitions of certain words in newspapers so that radicals, who had used alternative definitions, appeared incapable of using language correctly. So, as Barrell understands, we can regard the political conflict of the period ‘as a conflict, among other things, about the meanings of words’. And consequently, the interpretation or manipulation of terms such as democrat, equality or liberty became a politically loaded act. With this in mind, I have been investigating how liberty is defined within the work of Hannah More, exposing the complexity of her political identity. Continue reading

Report on first Annual CRECS Conference, 17 May 2016

On Tuesday 17 May 2016, Cardiff University’s Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) opened its doors to welcome the attendees of the first annual CRECS student conference.

After partaking in a welcome hot beverage—at a safe distance from the special collections of course!—the morning was devoted to student papers. These papers were delivered by a wide array of students from second year undergraduates to third year postgraduate researchers. The atmosphere was splendid, everyone delivered fantastically confident and supremely interesting papers on topics from counterfeiting coinage to memory in Wordsworth. For myself, what struck me as a common theme of all the papers was a demonstration of the richness of eighteenth-century language, and the complexities it yields. From the emotive rhetoric of court cases to the poetics of Ann Yearsley, Hannah More and William Wordsworth, from the complex doubleness of gothic rhetoric to the voice of the traveller in Welsh and Scottish tours, the presentations captured the richness and diversity of the period. For many student delegates, it was their first experience delivering a conference paper and you could not have asked for a more supportive and engaged audience. All the students have been invited to publish their papers on this blog so watch this space! Continue reading

First Annual CRECS Conference: Programme

All events take place on 17 May 2016, in the Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) at Cardiff University unless otherwise noted. 

09.00–09.25 Registration and Coffee
09.25–9.30 Welcome
09.30–10.20 Student Panel 1
(Four 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
Kathryn Barlow, Ella Morrish, Anwen Pembery, Thomas Tyrrell
10.30–11.20 Student Panel 2
(Four 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
India Cole, Natalie Cox, Poppy Jennings, Emma Tranter
11.20–11.40 Coffee Break
11.40–12.30 Student Panel 3
(Four 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
Stephanie Clayton, Anna Field, Abby Johns, Kirsty McHugh
12.35–13.15 Student Panel 4
(Three 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
Jannat Ahmad, Angharad Jenkins Wendon, Anna Sharrard
13.15–14.00 Lunch
(Refectory, John Percival Building)
14.00–15.00 Workshop 1 
Dr Mary-Ann Constantine and Dr Liz Edwards (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies) on 18th-century and Romantic Welsh tours
15.15–16.15 Workshop 2
Dr Jennie Batchelor, Dr Koenraad Claes, and Dr Jenny DiPlacidi (University of Kent) on The Lady’s Magazine
16.30–17.30 Workshop 3
Professor Tim Stretton (St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia) on ‘Married Women and the Law: “The True Case of the Lady Lawley” (1731)’
17.30–18.30 Closing Remarks followed by a Wine Reception
(John Percival Building, Room 2.47)