News and Upcoming Events

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) [Gillian.Dow@chawtonhouselibrary.org]; Professor Catriona Seth (Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature, All Souls College, Oxford University) [Catriona.Seth@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk]; Professor Nicola J Watson (Professor of English Literature, Open University) [Nicola.Watson@open.ac.uk].


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.