European Romanticisms in Association

Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition

European Romanticisms in Association’s core project RÊVE (Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition), launched as a pilot at ERA’s inaugural Chawton conference in June 2017. RÊVE stands at 24 exhibits, with further exhibits scheduled for the coming months and many more currently commissioned or under edit. The exhibition currently represents objects, contributors, and collections from eleven European countries, including Denmark, England and Scotland, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Contributions have been scheduled to coincide with recent and upcoming events and anniversaries including the Hungarian Revolution of March 1848, Shakespeare’s birthday, and Constable’s birthday. July’s post from Tim Fulford on “The Eudiometer at Tintern” will speak to the themes of this year’s BARS (British Association for Romantic Studies) conference. RÊVE is presently looking at developing named collections which would capitalise on emerging themes and connections.


ERA has now held two very successful events: the 2017 conference at Chawton House Library, ‘Jane Austen and Germaine de Staël: Reputations, Legacies, Futures, 1817-2017’, marking the joint anniversaries of the deaths of Austen and de Staël, co-organised with Dr. Gillian Dow (Chawton House Library and Southampton) and Professor Catriona Seth (All Souls, Oxford). The 2018 conference at the University of Bologna, ‘Frankenstein: Circuits and Circulations’, co-organised with Anthony Mandal (Cardiff University), Lilla Maria Crisafulli and Serena Baiesi (University of Bologna), similarly marked the anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. These events, thanks to the efforts of the organisers, have publicised both ERA and RÊVE to the scholarly community and allowed the commissioning of a wide variety of exhibits arising from those events.

Dreaming Romantic Europe

The associated AHRC-funded project Dreaming Romantic Europe (DREAM) led by Professor Nicola J. Watson (Open University) and Professor Catriona Seth (All Souls, Oxford) launched in autumn 2018 and is due to run until June 2020. Its core endeavour is to continue to build RÊVE to 100+ exhibits through running three major workshops and associated satellite events. More generally, it is designed to build an extensive pan-European network of scholars, scholarly associations, and museums. Workshop 1 ‘Consuming Romanticism’ was held November 9-10, 2018, Maison de Chateaubriand, La Vallée-aux-Loups, Paris. The Maison de Chateaubriand was marking the 250th anniversary of Chateaubriand’s birth, staging events and exhibitions including one devoted to Napoleon, ‘L’Empire en Boîte’, so ERA members were delighted to be the guests of the museum as part of these celebrations. 16 participants were asked to address a core question — ‘How did contemporaries construct themselves through objects (broadly conceived) as consumers of Romanticism?’ – through producing an exhibit for RÊVE, consisting of an image plus a micro-essay of no more than 1000 words drawn from original research. They were also asked to reflect upon the experience of rethinking Romanticisms in terms of the microhistories of Romantic objects, addressing questions such as: What has RÊVE so far revealed about previous and potential ways of thinking about Romanticism as a pan-European phenomenon? What has working with the RÊVE format taught us so far? How might we best develop RÊVE as a virtual museum? Workshop 2 is planned for October 2019 in Ravenna at the Museo Byron under the rubric ‘Romantic Authorship’, and Workshop 3 ‘Romantic Media’ is scheduled for June 2020 in association with the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere

A number of satellite events/panels/workshops have been set up in association with DREAM: a plenary session at the ‘Romantic Interactions’ conference in April this year at Kraców, two panels at the BARS conference in Nottingham in July 2019, and a workshop at Oxford in September 2019.


The exhibition’s presence online has continued to build, through developing the @euromanticism Twitter account, regular email updates, expanding the tagging of blog posts, and monitoring of the website’s visitors. Followers on the @euromanticism Twitter account continue to grow and tweets on the account have reached an audience of over 10000. Over the last six months the exhibition has been visited over 4000 times with visitors reaching the website through online searches, email links and social media. Otherwise, ERA has been expanding. The association now includes the Museo Romanticismo in Madrid and ERA is in the process of building informal and formal relationships with the Polish Society for the Study of European Romanticism, the Keats House in Hampstead, Abbotsford, the Cowper and Newton Museum and a number of others.


ERA brings together existing scholarly associations and heritage organizations devoted to Romanticism.  The Core Working Group presently comprises:

BARS (British Association for Romantic Studies) and AHH (Anglo-Hispanic Horizons Network): Professor Ian Haywood, University of Roehampton.

CETAPS (Centre for English, Translation, and Anglo-Portuguese Studies): Professor Jorge Bastos da Silva, University of Porto.

Chawton House Library: Dr Gillian Dow, University of Southampton.

CISR (Inter-University Centre for the Study of Romanticism): Professor Lilla Maria Crisafulli, University of Bologna.

German Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies: Prof Birgit Neumann, University of Dusseldorf.

Global18C Erasmus Mundi: Dr Tom Irvine, University of Southampton.

Keats-Shelley House, Rome: Dr Giuseppe Albano.

KNIR (Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut Rome): Professor Dr Harald Hendrix, National Academies of Rome and University of Utrecht.

LitHouses and The Wordsworth Museum and Jerwood Centre at Dove Cottage: Mr Jeff Cowton.

Museo Byron, Ravenna: Professor Diego Saglia, Università degli Studi di Parma.

Museum of Romanticism and Frankfurter Goethemuseum: Dr Joachim Seng.

NARS (Nordic Association of Romantic Studies): Professor Robert W. Rix, Copenhagen University.

Petőfi Literary Museum, Budapest, and ICLM (International Council of Literary Museums): Ms Gabriella Gulyás.

SERA (Société d’Études du Romantisme Anglais): Professor Caroline Bertonèche, Université Grenoble Alpes

SFEDS (Société Francaise d’Etudes du Dix-Huitième Siècle): Professor Catriona Seth, All Souls College, Oxford University.

Association Co-ordinator: Professor Nicola Watson, Open University.

Website: Dr Francesca Benatti, Open University, and Dr Matthew Sangster, University of Glasgow.

Title page of the first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma (1816). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

News and Upcoming Events

Dreaming Romantic Europe at BARS, July 25-28 2019

This July, we were delighted to bring Dreaming Romantic Europe and RÊVE to the 16th International British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) conference in Nottingham. In keeping with the conference theme of ‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’, we presented two sessions, convened by Professor Nicola Watson – a panel on Dreaming Romantic Europe: facts and their fantasies and an associated ECR workshop.

Our first session kicked off on Thursday to a packed-out audience. The panel featured a series of micro-talks in which seven senior scholars of Romanticism presented their research in the form of an exhibit for RÊVE. Objects ranged across Europe and varied from texts and domestic items to the buildings which might contain them, with each talk using a single image to spark broader discussions about the materiality (or immateriality) of Romantic objects, their circulation, and the narratives of fact or of fantasy which might be constructed around them. The stellar line up of speakers included: Professor Deidre Shauna Lynch, who introduced us to ‘The Handwritten Title-Page of a Transcription of Keat’s Poems, 1828’; Professor Emma Clery who presented ‘A Circular Note from Herries & Co.’; Professor Anthony Mandal, who explored ‘The offices of the Minerva Press, Leadenhall’; Professor Penny Fielding with ‘Margaret Chalmers and a Tea-cup’; Professor Sonia Hofkosh, who discussed ‘Byron’s Screen’; Professor Diego Saglia, who spoke on ‘William Beckford’s Pavilion’; and Professor Ian Haywood who concluded with ‘A Map of the Republic of Europe’. The panel ended with discussion which drew attention to the ways in which the seven talks spoke to each other in productive and sometimes unexpected ways and considered how the objects in the virtual exhibition might come together as a collection or collections.

BARS delegates continued Dreaming Romantic Europe on Sunday, at our ECR Workshop. The first half of the workshop followed a similar format to Thursday with presentations from Alice Rhodes on ‘A ha’pennyworth of sedition, 1796’; Anne-Claire Michoux on ‘The petition for Robert Lovell Edgeworth to be permitted to stay in Paris, 1803’; Dr Teresa Raçzka-Jeziorska on ’40 verses of Mickiewicz’s “Pan Tadeusz” given to Ambroży Grabowski for “Autographs of Illustrious Men’’’; and Dr Charlotte May on ‘The decanter given to Byron by Samuel Rogers’. The second half of the workshop involved discussion, led by Professor Nicola Watson, on the project of RÊVE more broadly. The workshop generated fruitful and though-provoking conversations on methods of recording visitor engagement with the exhibition; ways of incorporating RÊVE into teaching; and the opportunities and challenges afforded by presenting research as short-form object biographies, exemplified by Watson’s exhibit on ‘William Cowper’s lavender-water bottle’. Dr Anna Mercer and Dr Charlotte May also provided valuable insights on the project from the perspective of their work with heritage organisations.

Discussions also continued on Twitter, where live-tweeting of our panels reached an audience of over 12000. It was a privilege to be part of such a wonderful conference and huge thanks goes to the BARS 2019 organisers, all the speakers involved in the panels, and everyone who came to listen and offer their enthusiastic thoughts on the project.

We look forward to featuring the exhibits mentioned above on the website in the coming months.

Dreaming Romantic Europe, Workshop 1 “Consuming Romanticism”

On Friday 9th November 2018, members of European Romanticisms in Association (ERA) met in the idyllic grounds of Maison de Chateaubriand in La Vallée-aux-Loups, just outside Paris, for the first workshop of the AHRC funded Dreaming Romantic Europe network (PI Professor Nicola J Watson, Open University, Co-I Professor Catriona Seth, University of Oxford). The workshop, titled ‘Consuming Romanticism’, brought together scholars and heritage professionals from across Europe, including colleagues from institutions in Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, to explore the key question ‘How did contemporaries construct themselves through objects (broadly conceived) as consumers of Romanticism’ over two days of stimulating and productive presentations and conversation.

After a wonderful tour of the house in which François-René de Chateaubriand lived between 1807 and 1817 and a visit to Maison de Chateaubriand’s current exhibition on Napoleon Bonaparte, ‘L’empire en boîtes’, the afternoon got underway with a series of ten-minute papers, each including a single image and exploring an iconic Romantic object. The innovative format of the presentations, which aimed to generate contributions for Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition (RÊVE), was a huge success, allowing attendees to think and speak about European Romanticisms in new ways and to approach the concept of the Romantic object from new angles. The diverse range of proposed exhibits and interpretations was particularly inspiring, with papers addressing objects from travelling boxes, furniture, automata, artworks and publications to tombs and monuments, and even trees, clouds and mountains. It was agreed that the format of the afternoon had made for an engaging first day and as the evening drew to a close, conversations continued to flow on the journey back towards Paris.

On Saturday morning discussions kicked off with a host of thought-provoking presentations reflecting on the development of RÊVE, the concept of the pan-European and the virtual exhibition, and process of writing and rethinking Romanticism through short-form histories of material (or sometimes immaterial) objects. The presentations sparked a range of lively and fruitful conversations around topics including: how to design, organise, map, and guide visitors through the collection; how to bring the project to new audiences, communities, and collaborators; the ability of the exhibition to draw new links between objects, their owners, and their locations; and the way in which the exhibition allows us to bring inanimate objects to life through the stories we tell about them. The wealth of ideas from all participants demonstrated the huge potential which the exhibition holds for fostering new ideas about and approaches to Romanticism, its study, and its dissemination and, as Catriona Seth summarized, established the “10 Cs” at the centre of the project: conversation, connections, commissions, crowds, circulation, circles, categorization, curiosity, comparison and curation.

Finally, after a steering group meeting to discuss the details of the second workshop which will be held next year in Ravenna, Italy, all that remained was to thank Bernard Degout, Veronica Martin Baudouin, Anne Sudre, Pierre Téqui, and the rest of the team from Maison de Chateaubriand for hosting and live-tweeting the event and to all the participants and contributors for their enthusiastic involvement.

Dreaming Romantic Europe Network AHRC Grant

ERA is delighted to announce that the project Dreaming Romantic Europe has been funded by an AHRC Network Grant from 1 September 2018 through to 31 July 2020. Initiated from within the ERA network, the project (PI Professor Nicola J Watson, Open University, Co-I Professor Catriona Seth, Oxford University) will run three workshops in Paris (in association with the Maison Chateaubriand), Ravenna (with the Museo Byron), and Grasmere (with Dove Cottage) with the aim of developing and reflecting upon RÊVE (Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition) both as an intellectual venture and a pedagogical resource and model.

Reputations, Legacies, Futures: Jane Austen, Germaine de Staël and their contemporaries, 1817-2017 (Chawton House Library, Hampshire, 13-15 July 2017)

François Gérard (1770–1837), ‘Portrait of Madame de Staël’ (c. 1810). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Keynote Speakers: Benjamin Colbert, University of Wolverhampton; Alison Finch, University of Cambridge; Deidre Lynch, Harvard University.

Call for Papers: July 1817 saw two deaths – of Jane Austen, an English novelist with a solid but relatively modest success, and of Germaine de Staël, a long-standing superstar of pan-European intellectual, political and literary life. Over the two centuries since, the relative reputations of these two writers have re-aligned in ways that would have astonished their contemporaries, admirers and critics alike. This joint anniversary provides an unrivalled opportunity to bring scholars together to reflect on the connections, continuities, and contrasts between these two writers’ careers both in their lifetimes and after, and to think about the waxing and waning across Europe and beyond of the literary reputations of eighteenth-century and Romantic-period women writers more generally.

The organisers invite submissions of 20 minute papers. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Connections and continuities between Austen and Staël (including, for instance, Austen’s familiarity with/awareness of the writings of Staël and vice versa, or their dealings with the firm that published them both, John Murray)
  • The reputations and reception of women writers in Europe and beyond, both in their own lifetimes and subsequently
  • Contemporary and subsequent models for the woman writer, thinker and genius
  • The celebration of women writers, including portraiture, biography, the fame of associated place, commemorative events
  • The sale, import, export, translation, abridgement, extraction, illustration, adaptation of the works of women writers from their lifetimes to the present
  • Echoes, influence, and reiterations, especially those women writers  described as ‘other’ Austens and Staëls in Europe and America
  • The changing relative placement of these writers in relation (for instance) to notions of the centre and the periphery, the cosmopolitan and the national, the hierarchies of genre
  • The futures of reading and teaching women’s writing of the period
  • Other anniversaries associated with women writers falling in 1817 (such as, for instance, the career-defining publication in London and Paris of Sydney Owenson/Lady Morgan’s France).

Organising Committee: Dr Gillian Dow (Executive Director of Chawton House Library and Associate Professor in English at the University of Southampton) []; Professor Catriona Seth (Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature, All Souls College, Oxford University) []; Professor Nicola J Watson (Professor of English Literature, Open University) [].

Departing into the Romantic Universe: August Wilhelm Schlegel (Freies Deutsches Hochstift – Frankfurter Goethe-Museum, 5 September-12 November 2017)

September 5th 2017 marks the 250th anniversary of one of the central characters of German and European Romanticism: the author, translator and philologist August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767–1845). He was the most cosmopolitan of the German romanticists, a ‘universal poet’ and a ‘universal scholar’ whose thirst for knowledge extended far beyond its literary aspects. Being used to crossing cultural, artistic and scientific frontiers, he was always searching for differences on his journeys in order to find common ground between European and Indian culture. From 1804 until 1817 he lived together with Germaine de Staël, acting as a teacher for her children as well as a conversation partner and consultant concerning questions of German, French and European culture. In the process he brought the ideas of German Romanticism to Europe.

Like no other of his contemporaries, August Wilhelm Schlegel acted as a mediator between cultures: his translations of great works of world literature in different languages like English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese are still well respected, particularly his Shakespeare translations, which are exemplary even by today’s standards.

For a long time, the outstanding importance of August Wilhelm Schlegel for German and European Romanticism was underestimated. It is only recently that this innovative and versatile author and intellectual could be fully rediscovered by working through the testimonies of his life and works, many of which can be found in the collection of Freies Deutsches Hochstift.

The exhibition at the Freies Deutsches Hochstift on the occasion of August Wilhelm Schlegel’s 250th birthday wants to bring to life this ‘universal poet’ by showing originals (work manuscripts, correspondence, portraits, graphics, Schlegel’s Indian miniature collection etc.) that are little known at present. In addition, it will offer multi-media-based access. The centre of the exhibition will be Schlegel’s intercultural work that flourished anew at every single place in Europe that he visited.

On the 28th August 2017 – the day which marks Goethe’s birthday – there will be a preview of the exhibition. After the official opening on 5th September 2017, the exhibition will be on display until the 12th November 2017. After that, the exhibition will be modularized to be adapted to the needs of the locations to follow: Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Haus in Bonn, University Library of Philipps-University in Marburg and the Literature Museum Romantikerhaus in Jena.

Read More About RÊVE

ERA’s online research project, Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition (RÊVE) launched in summer 2017. The virtual exhibition is designed to address both an academic and a general audience as an interdisciplinary project showcasing and sharing Romantic texts, objects, and places through collaborations between academic researchers, museums, galleries and other cultural groupings.  It is now supported by BARS (the British Association for Romantic Studies) and is the core research project of the AHRC-funded project Dreaming Romantic Europe (PI Professor Nicola J. Watson, Open University) and Professor Catriona Seth (Co-I All Souls, Oxford).

The Poet’s Room, Frankfurt Goethe House
Dichterzimmer, Frankfurter Goethe-Haus (© Freies Deutsches Hochstift – Frankfurter Goethe-Museum).