First Annual CRECS Conference, 17 May 2016

The Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth Century Seminar (CRECS) turns three semesters old on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 … 

And, to celebrate, it’s time for the first CRECS Annual Conference!

CRECS exists to support and stimulate interest and discussion in Romantic and 18th-century studies at Cardiff University. With that in mind, we will be holding a unique 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.

The day (running from 09.30 to 18.00) will be split into two parts. In the morning, we’ll be holding a mini-conference, where undergraduates and postgraduates alike can present their work and ideas in punchy 10-minute papers with plenty of opportunities for discussion.

In the afternoon, we’ll be running a series of no fewer than three exciting workshops with internationally recognized experts in the field:

  1. Dr Mary-Ann Constantine and Dr Liz Edwards (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies) on eighteenth-century and Romantic Welsh tours;
  2. Dr Jennie Batchelor, Dr Koenraad Claes and Dr Jenny DiPlacidi (University of Kent) on The Lady’s Magazine;
  3. Professor Tim Stretton (St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia) on a topic to be confirmed.

The day is open to those who wish to attend and participate in discussion, as well as to those who want to deliver papers. A buffet lunch, coffee and a wine reception will be provided, so—to join us for this free event—please sign up using Eventbrite by Monday, 2 May 2016: http://crecs-conference-2016.eventbrite.co.uk

The day will be fun and informal, while also giving students the opportunity to try the ‘conference experience’ for the first time. We’d particularly like to encourage undergraduate students, as well as postgraduates and recent graduates, to propose papers on anything related to the Romantic period and 18th century. This is a fantastic opportunity to present and get feedback on your work in a friendly and familiar setting, while meeting with various leading scholars doing exciting and innovative research. You might want to speak about an argument from one of your essays or try out an idea for a dissertation. Whatever, you’ll be developing important skills and experience for the future: as well as giving you a taste of what postgraduate research culture at Cardiff is like, presenting at the CRECS conference will look very impressive on your CV!

If you’re a student based in Cardiff University, and would like to deliver a 10-minute presentation, please send a 100-word proposal to Dr Jamie Castell (castellj@cardiff.ac.uk) by Friday, 15 April 2016.

 

 

Report on Leverhulme Lecture by Tim Stretton: Stepmothers at Law in the Long 18th Century, 29 Feb 2016

CRECS was delighted to welcome Tim Stretton, Professor of History at St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia, for his Leverhulme Lecture on ‘Stepmothers at Law in the Long Eighteenth Century’. The concept of the ‘wicked stepmother’ is one which we cannot help be culturally aware of. Tim’s talk was an opportunity for us to delve into the complexities of family law and how the figure of the step-mother was integrated into such legal practises. Continue reading

Report on ‘Valentines CRECS: How romantic were the Romantics?’, 8 Feb 2016

In the week of Valentine’s Day, the CRECS audience assembled to hear husband-and-wife team Professor John Strachan (Romantic scholar and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at Bath Spa University) and Dr Jane Moore (Reader in Romanticism at Cardiff University) address some burning questions about romance in the Romantic era. What can literary men and women of the period teach us about courtship, marriage, sex and love?  Can they tell us how to be a good husband or a good wife?  Or offer examples of how not to be? And what of same-sex partnerships?  Jane represented the views of women writers of the period, including Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Letitia Elizabeth Landon; while John sifted the love lives of Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and John Keats. Continue reading

Visiting Speaker, 16 Feb 2016: Dale Townshend on Horace Walpole’s Enchanted Castles

Dale Townshend (University of Stirling) will be presenting his paper, ‘Horace Walpole’s Enchanted Castles’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 16 February 2016. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 4.43, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Abstract
2015.04.townshendEver since Horace Walpole in the second edition of The Castle of Otranto (1765) disclosed his authorship of his ‘Gothic Story’, it has been assumed that the ‘real’ and ‘particular’ castle to which he, in his guise as the ‘translator’ William Marshal, referred in the Preface to the first edition of the novel was Strawberry Hill, the ‘little Gothic castle’ in Twickenham that he had set about ‘Gothicizing’ since the late 1740s.  As I seek to demonstrate in this paper, however, this is really only half of the story, for while the castle at Otranto certainly, as Walpole would later phrase it, ‘puts one in mind’ of Strawberry Hill, it also looks to the architectural formations of ‘ancient’ or ‘Gothic’ romance for its structure, its effects, and even its eventual disappearance. More specifically, I argue, Manfred’s castle at Otranto is, in a number of respects, a reworking of the trope of the enchanted castle that featured so prominently in the epic romances of Torquato Tasso, Ludovico Ariosto, Edmund Spenser, and others. And if The Castle of Otranto is, indeed, closely linked to Strawberry Hill, I argue that this is not simply because Walpole ‘writes’ his home into his novel, but because both fiction and house looked to the architectural structures of medieval romance as their ultimate point of inspiration. Having explored the trope of the enchanted castle as it figures in The Castle of Otranto and Walpole’s correspondence around Strawberry Hill, I conclude by tracing its uptake in the later Gothic dramas and fictions of Miles Peter Andrews, Clara Reeve, Anna Laetitia Aikin and Ann Radcliffe. Continue reading

Valentine CRECS: How romantic were the Romantics? 8 Feb 2016

How romantic were writers of the Romantic age?  What can literary men and women of the period teach us about courtship, marriage, sex and love?  Can they tell us how to be a good husband or a good wife?  Or offer examples of how not to be? And what of same-sex partnerships?  In the week of St Valentine’s Day, husband-and-wife team, Professor John Strachan (Romantic scholar and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at Bath Spa University) and Dr Jane Moore (Reader in Romanticism at Cardiff University), discuss these questions, and others, with reference to writers of the Romantic age.

  • John will represent the views of the male poets, including Byron, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley.
  • On the distaff side, Jane will focus on writers including Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft as well as the poets, Felicia Hemans, ‘L.E.L.’ (Letitia Elizabeth Landon) and Mary Lamb.
  • As usual, there will be plenty of time for plenty of discussion about the issues raised after the presentations.
  • The evening will finish with a drinks and snacks reception.

Join us on 8 February 2016, in Lecture Theatre 0.36 in the John Percival Building. The event will start at 5.15pm and will be followed by refreshments, as usual.

Leverhulme Lecture by Tim Stretton: Stepmothers at Law in the Long 18th Century, 29 Feb 2016

Stepmothers at Law in the Long Eighteenth Century

Tim Stretton, St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia

Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Cardiff University

A Leverhulme Lecture supported by the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS) and the School of History, Archaeology and Religion (SHARE)

Monday 29 February 2016, 5.15pm
Room 2.01, John Percival Building, Cardiff University

CRECS is delighted to host a public lecture from Tim Stretton, Professor of History at St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia. Come along on Monday 29 February to hear about his current research on the cultural image and legal status of the stepmother in Britain over the long eighteenth century—a topic that will appeal to all historians and literary scholars interested in intersections between law, gender, and kinship. In Tim’s own words:

The focus of my research is the legal position of married women in the English past, tracing the Common Law idea of ‘coverture’ over many centuries, prior to the dismantling of most of its effects between the 1870s and 1925. Under coverture, most of a wife’s legal autonomy was ‘covered’ by her husband’s, so that she could not independently hold or enjoy property, and without his permission she could not enter into contracts, take part in lawsuits or write a will. This curtailing of a married woman’s legal independence was more severe than under any other comparable legal regime in Europe. And yet in practice a number of women managed to wield power, use equitable devices such as trusts to maintain control of property, and make use of legal exceptions to evade coverture’s worst effects.

Against this backdrop of harsh rules and a more flexible reality, the figure of the stepmother provides an interesting case study for examining female autonomy, male fears, and the cultural (as well as legal and economic) effects of law.

In this paper I will reflect on some of the practical problems stepmothers faced; the fears that they raised in heirs and other family members (seen in the curious English rule excluding ‘half bloods’ from inheriting from their ‘full blood’ siblings) and some of the undercurrents that might help explain (or complicate) broad changes in attitudes to stepmothers over time.

As ever, the lecture will be followed by an opportunity to ask the speaker questions and engage in debate, and also by a wine reception. We hope you can make it!

For more details, please email Dr Sophie Coulombeau (coulombeaus@cardiff.ac.uk).

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