Romantic Circles Blog

New @ RC Praxis: Romanticism and Disaster

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Romanticism and Disaster

Romantic Circles is delighted to announce the publication of a new volume in our Praxis series, Romanticism and Disaster, co-edited by Jacques Khalip and David Collings.

In essays by Scott Juengel, William Keach, Timothy Morton, and Rei Terada, this volume considers and responds to the timely concept of devastated life by addressing how the capacity to read, interpret, and absorb disaster necessitates significant changes in theory, ethics, and common life. What if the consequences or “experience” of a disaster were less about psychic survival than an unblinking desire to face down the disaster as a challenge to normative structures?

As a whole, Romanticism and Disaster attends to the rhetorical, epistemological, political, and social effects of Romantic critique, and reflects on how processes of destruction and reconstitution, ruination and survival, are part and parcel of Romanticism’s grappling with a negativity that haunts its corners. Put in this way, “disaster” does not signal a referential event, but rather an undoing of certain apparently prior categories of dwelling, and forces us to contemplate living otherwise. In confronting the end of things, what are the conditions or possibilities of existence amidst catastrophe? What is a crisis, and what kinds of challenges does it occasion? What can be philosophically gained or lost by analyzing disaster in its multiple sites, contexts, and instances?

Romanticism and Disaster can be found here.

New @ RC Praxis: Robert Bloomfield: The Inestimable Blessing of Letters

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Romantic Circles is very pleased to announce a new volume in the Romantic Circles Praxis series, Robert Bloomfield: The Inestimable Blessing of Letters, edited by John Goodridge and Bridget Keegan.

Robert Bloomfield's letters document one artist’s struggles (and sometimes his victories) to share his unique voice and vision; the online publication of his extant letters (a companion to this collection of essays) reveals new and exciting insights into Bloomfield the artist and the man.The essays included in this Praxis volume highlight and draw attention to aspects of Bloomfield's literary production that would likely not be possible without the full access to his letters that the edition provides, and make a strong case for why Bloomfield continues to be worthy of study.They suggest how much more remains to be said about this prolific poet.

This volume makes use of the previously published edition at Romantic Circles, The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and His Circle, edited by Tim Fulford and Lynda Pratt. This edition of Bloomfield''s Collected Letters constitutes every known letter by Bloomfield himself, plus a selection of the letters sent to him by literary correspondents and those exchanged between members of his circle.

Circulations: Romanticism and the Black Atlantic, a Romantic Circles Praxis Volume

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Circulations: Romanticism and the Black Atlantic Romantic Circles is pleased to announce the publication of our newest Praxis volume, Circulations: Romanticism and the Black Atlantic.

This volume moves the perspective of critical inquiry into British Romanticism from the Island (England) to the Islands (West Indies), considering the particular significance of the Atlantic—watery vortex of myriad economic and cultural exchanges, roaring multiplicity of agencies, and vast whirlpool of creative powers. Black Romanticism remembers a forgotten ancestry of British culture, recovering the vital agencies of diasporic Africans and creole cultures of the West Indies. It does so by practicing counter-literacy, reading the works of nation, empire, and colony against themselves to liberate the common cultures they occlude. The five essays presented here examine texts by or about Jean Jacque Dessalines, Juan Manzano, Jack Mansong, Mary Prince, and John Gabriel Stedman, following a circuitous route that begins in Africa and travels from Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Suriname, Bermuda, and Antigua to corresponding points in England, America, and the continent. The circulation of radically different adaptations of the “same” material provides new ways to understand the colonial Caribbean. This volume is edited and introduced by Paul Youngquist and Frances Botkin, with essays by Lindsay J. Twa, Lissette Lopez Szwydky, Joselyn Almeida, Dustin Kennedy, and Michele Speitz.

Romantic Frictions, a Romantic Circles Praxis volume

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Romantic FrictionsWe are pleased to announce the publication of Romantic Frictions, a new volume in the Romantic Circles Praxis Series.

The essays in Romantic Frictions find in Romanticism what philosophical modernity has often found there: a disposition to recognize oppositions that cannot be squared or resolved precisely because they constitute the ongoing work of culture and writing. Such frictions are embedded in a shifting temporal moment whose inner complexity is similarly textured such that neither history nor philosophy assumes a master (and fictional) disguise. Both are instead crosscut and assembled in ways that sustain an inner friction that invites being read. Rather than reify the critical tendency, stubbornly at issue since the 1980s, to suppose that Romanticism belongs either to deconstructive philosophy or to new historicism, the essays in this volume understand romanticism as a cultural and literary terrain where these and other disciplinary affiliations exist together, not as easy companions but as productive antagonists. This volume is edited and introduced by Theresa M. Kelley, with essays by Ian Duncan, Mary A. Favret, Daniel O'Quinn, Matthew Rowlinson, Colin Jager, and Jacques Khalip.

John Thelwall: Critical Reassessments, a Romantic Circles Praxis volume

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John Thelwall: Critical ReassessmentsRomantic Circles is very pleased to announce our newest volume in the Romantic Circles Praxis Series: John Thelwall: Critical Reassessments, edited by Yasmin Solomonescu.

Capitalizing on the conjunction of renewed scholarly interest in Thelwall and new archival finds, this collection of essays addresses the central question of the coherence and continuity of Thelwall’s diverse pursuits – literary, political, scientific, therapeutic, elocutionary, and journalistic – across the four decades of his career (c. 1790-1830), and provides new insight into Thelwall’s eclipse and persistence in the nineteenth century. The volume includes an introduction by Yasmin Solomonescu and essays by Nicholas Roe, Mary Fairclough, Molly Desjardins, Emily Stanback, Steve Poole, Angela Esterhammer, and Patty O’Boyle.

The Praxis volume is the first in a three-part project entitled, John Thelwall: Recovery and Reassessments. The remaining two parts, edited by Judith Thompson, will be published in October and consist of two scholarly resources:

  • The first, John Thelwall in Performance: The Fairy of the Lake, documents the first full production of a Thelwall play, his Arthurian romance The Fairy of the Lake. An introductory essay by Judith Thompson offers historical and literary context for complete footage of the play’s performance in Halifax in 2009, while a series of short video documentaries by Brooke Fifield explores the process of bringing this piece of radical Romantic theatre from dusty page to modern stage.
  • The second, John Thelwall in Time and Text, combines a detailed chronology of Thelwall’s life with the fullest bibliography to date of his works, letters, and manuscripts, including archival locations and sources.

Together, these three components of John Thelwall: Recovery and Reassessments seek to advance Thelwall studies by reconnecting text, voice, and image in the dynamic way for which Thelwall himself was renowned.

The Collected Letters of Robert Southey, Part Two: 1798-1803

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We are pleased to announce the second part of an eight-part electronic edition of the Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Two is edited by Lynda Pratt and Ian Packer.

Robert Southey, as many of our readers know,  was one of the best-known, controversial and innovative writers in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain. Based upon extensive new archival research, this Collected edition makes available for the first time all his surviving letters, freshly edited, annotated and introduced.

Part One covers 1791-1797, turbulent years which saw the forging of Southey's career and reputation, his involvement in radical politics, and the beginning of his friendships with Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Part Two, which covers 1798-1803, includes his public and private responses to Lyrical Ballads (1798); his reaction to the rise of Napoleon and the continuing conflict between Britain and revolutionary France; his second and final visit to Portugal and the resultant hardening of his anti-Catholicism; his unhappy stint as a secretary to the Irish Chancellor Isaac Corry, and his emotional bludgeoning by the deaths in relentless succession between 1801-1803 of three Margarets, his cousin, mother and first child. Part Two comprises 596 letters, of which 199 are published for the first time, and 107 are published in full for the first time. In addition, 5 letters that appeared pseudonymously in the Monthly Magazine are here newly attributed to Southey.

Grave of Margaret King in disrepair

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Margaret King GraveRomantic Circles recently received a correspondence alerting us to the state of disrepair into which the headstone of Margaret King Countess Mount Cashell, a pupil of Mary Wollstonecraft and friend to Mary Shelley, has fallen (see photo). Buried next to her husband, George Tighe, in the Old English Cemetery at Leghorn in Livorno, Italy, King's grave site, along with most others in the cemetery were, until recently, covered with vegetation, earth, and roots. A group of volunteers began cleanup of the entire cemetery last year. The graves span the years 1600 to 1838 when the cemetery was closed. The chief volunteer, Matteo Giunti maintains a blog chronicling their restoration efforts.

More information about King can be found on her Wikipedia entry.

Claire Clairmont's paternity: previously unpublished letters of Mary Jane Godwin

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We here at Romantic Circles recently received an intriguing email we thought was worth passing on, from one Vicki Parslow Stafford:

I would like to bring to the attention of Romantic scholars, historians and biographers a collection of letters held by the Somerset Record Office which establishes the identity of the father of Mary Jane 'Claire' Clairmont, daughter of Mrs. Mary Jane Godwin (nee Vial) and stepsister of Mary Shelley.

The letters span the period from 1797, when Mary Jane Vial's daughter was conceived, until early 1814.  They were formerly held by Dodson and Pulman, Solicitors of Taunton, Somerset, UK.  The collection comprises holograph letters from Mary Jane Vial to her former lover John Lethbridge, of Sandhill Park, Somerset; to his lawyer Robert Beadon; and to several others.  It also contains letters from Lethbridge to his lawyer, and sundry file notes and correspondence from Mary Jane Vial's lawyer William Lambert White, of Yeovil.  The correspondence is concerned with securing financial support for Mary Jane, Vial's daughter with John Lethbridge.  It includes a number of letters written by Vial between April and August 1799, when she was imprisoned for debt at Ilchester.

The documents are archived at Somerset Archive and Record Service, catalogue reference DD\DP 17/11, Papers of Dodson and Pulman, Solicitors of Taunton, Lethbridge estate papers (correspondence concerning Mary Jane Vial).

The Somerset County Archives and the depositors have kindly granted me permission to transcribe the letters and make the transcriptions available to scholars and interested persons, through publication on a web site.  The transcriptions can be viewed on my website Claire Clairmont, Mary Jane's Daughter, at

Please be aware that I am not a Romantic scholar or historian (I am an alumnus of the the University of Queensland but my professional experience is in disability policy and program development).  I have a keen amateur interest in genealogy, and came across this collection while researching an ancestor also named Mary Vial.  As a consequence, my website may well not meet the Romatic Circle's rigorous standards for electronic resources.

Nevertheless, I would be pleased if you would take whatever steps you consider appropriate to advise your members and readers of the existence of this previously unpublished material. I am sure it will be of interest to many.  I would also be very glad to receive any criticisms of the content of the website and suggestions for its improvement.

With regards,
Vicki Parslow Stafford
vpstafford ~[at]~

New at RC: "Thoughts in Prison" by William Dodd, edited by Charles Rzepka

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Thoughts In Prison
Romantic Circles is very pleased to announce the publication of William Dodd's long poem Thoughts in Prison (1777), edited by Charles Rzepka as a Romantic Circles Scholarly Edition.  In his introduction to the edition, Professor Rzepka describes its importance:
Thoughts in Prison, in Five Parts, was written by the Reverend William Dodd in 1777, while he was awaiting execution for forgery in his Newgate prison cell. Blandly Miltonic in style, the poem is unique not only among prison writings, but also in the history of English literature: none of the many reflections, stories, essays, ballads, and broadside "Confessions" originating—or purporting to have originated—in a jail cell over the last few hundred years can begin to match it in length (over three thousand lines of blank verse), in the irony of its author's notoriety (Dodd had been a chaplain to the king), or in the completeness of its erasure from history after a meteoric career in print that began to wane only at the turn of the nineteenth century. It is a document deserving attention from anyone interested in the early movement for prison reform in England, the rise of 'natural theology,' the impact of Enlightenment thought on mainstream religion, and, of course, death-row confessions and crime literature in general.
An appendix presents manuscript versions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "This Lime-Tree Bower, my Prison," by way of suggesting a reliance, at least metaphorically, on this major work of prison literature by Romantic writers.
This edition complete with Introduction and Appendix is available here.

KSAA Annual Awards Dinner, MLA 2011

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The Keats-Shelley Association of America's annual awards dinner at MLA will be held this year on Saturday, 8 January 2011. A cash bar opens at 5:30 PM and dinner begins at 7:00 PM, at the Standard Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, 550 S. Flower at Sixth Street. This year the Association will honor distinguished scholars Christopher RIcks and Julie Carlson.

For reservations, send $60 by 15 December 2010 to:

Steven Jones
Loyola University Chicago
Department of English
Crown Center 421
1032 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660

Contact Steven Jones: