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 GrAHRC ant

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) [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.