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

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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

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

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.

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

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