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)

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Report on ‘Children of CRECS: Contesting childhood in the Romantic era’, 7 Dec 2015

As an opening to our third event, ‘Children of CRECS: Contesting childhood in the Romantic era’, Anthony Mandal declared that he was reminded of the 1984 horror movie Children of the Corn—from this we were immediately aware that this was not to be an evening of children frolicking through fields … Continue reading

Children of CRECS: Contesting Childhood in the Romantic Era, 7 Dec 2015

The study of childhood has long been crucial to interdisciplinary study of the Romantic period. Historians of the family have pinpointed the eighteenth century as crucial for the emergence of our modern understanding of the concept, from Philippe Ariés’ controversial claim that the very idea of childhood developed in Western Europe only around this time to Lawrence Stone’s equally fiercely contested account of the ‘closed domesticated nuclear family’. These arguments about broad social forces have been accompanied by a surge of critical interest in pioneering educational theory, particularly in the ideas of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau and their resonance throughout political, scientific and literary discourses. Scores of novelists, poets and essayists absorbed these ideas, and a deep interest in the nature of childhood and education runs throughout the imaginative literature of the Romantic period . Writers such as Anna Barbauld and Maria Edgeworth wrote not only educational treatises but also innovative tales and poetry specifically marketed towards children. Novels by writers including Mary Hays and Walter Scott featured protagonists whose childhood reading fosters tragic flaws later in life. And Romantic poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Thelwall became deeply preoccupied with the potential of the cradle song to articulate the relationship between domestic, ‘private’ relations and political, ‘public’ concerns. Continue reading