Romantic Circles Blog

Recent Conference: Queer Romanticism

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Amanda Berry, of Rhode Island School of Design, sends this participant’s report on a recent conference in Dublin:

Last month, August 15 -16, 2003, I was privileged to attend a two-day international conference on Queer Romanticism that took place at the Women's Education, Research and Resources Center at University College in Dublin. The event was splendidly organized by Michael O'Rourke (U.C. Dublin) and David Collings (Bowdoin College). Many thanks to Michael and David! Papers were presented continuously on both days, [cont'd]

beginning with a talk by George Haggerty (U.C. Riverside) on transgressive social-sexual relations in the trope of gothic terror and closing with Eric Clarke's (U. Pittsburgh) paper on homoeroticism, "lifestyle," and Kant's ethics, which began with a close reading of Kant's uncharacteristic request, during the last days of his life, for a kiss from his friend, Pastor Wasianski.

The projects that were presented at the conference varied a great deal in scope and method. Caroline Kimberley presented here work on the homosocial nature of the "trouble" the Keats circle had putting his biography together. Laura George talked about the importance of the Romantic "Thing" inside a project to queer the imagination of commodities during the period. Fiona Brideoake presented her ongoing work on The Ladies of Llangolen's attempts to invent a lesbian culture through especially their work to a amass a gigantic and very particularly chosen private library. Joe Rezek presented his work on the logic of the closet and "passing as a wife" in Amelia Opie's Adeline Mowbray. There were many more excellent presentations, by Richard Sha, Mair Rigby, Hal Gladfelder, Arnold Markley, Bridget Keegan, and others.

Given the relatively intimate structure of the conference--there were about 18 participants--we were all able to hear each other present and engage in a relatively fluid and ongoing discussion of queer work in the field and varying methodological approaches to thinking sex during the Romantic period. I understand that Romanticism on the Net will publish at least some of the papers given in Dublin sometime this spring. I look forward to that issue and hope anyone else interested in the topic(s) will take a look, as well.

Mandy Berry

Peter Manning to Edit the Keats-Shelley Journal

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A little over ten years ago I took over from Stuart Curran as Editor of the Keats-Shelley Journal. This meant a lot to me, since I had published my first scholarly article in the KSJ while still a graduate student. It has been educational and fun, a major honor. Now it’s time to give someone else a turn.

The Journal and its readers are extremely lucky that the distinguished scholar and professor of English at the State University of New York, Stonybrook, Peter Manning, has agreed to take over from me as the new Editor, beginning in 2004. Stuart and I had a meeting at the first NASSR conference to discuss our transition. Last month, Peter and I talked at this year’s NASSR in New York (while standing in line for the performance of Death’s Jest Book and then waiting in the seats for the performance to begin), where we made plans for the new transition.

At the same time, Alice Levine is handing over the KSJ Book Review Editorship to her own worthy successor, another noted scholar and colleague, Professor Jeanne Moskal of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

In future please send books for possible review to Professor Moskal, Department of English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599. And (it gives me great pleasure to say...) please send manuscripts of articles for consideration to Professor Peter Manning (, Department of English, SU of NY, Stonybrook, NY, 11794. I know Peter would want me to add: please send a SASE if you wish your manuscript returned, and double space everything in the manuscript, including the notes--which should be submitted as endnotes not footnotes (yes, we know they’ll be appear in the KSJ as footnotes). Consult back issues of the KSJ on other matters of style.

Steve Jones

Teaching Frankenstein?

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For everyone teaching Frankenstein, this back-to-school note just in from Laura Mandell:

I'm writing to let people know that I have put up a page collecting all the resources that are available on the Romantic Circles Website for teaching Frankenstein. Romantic Circles has produced so many valuable resources, and this page solves the problem of finding them, remembering where they are, and directing students to everything that's available. Among other things, the collection includes a Praxis volume of critical essays (edited by Jerrold Hogle) on Victor Frankenstein's dream, the nineteenth-century stage adaptation, Presumption, a Mary Shelley chronology, and the student-created virtual reality space, FrankenMOO. The complete list can be found at:

Laura Mandell

"Crossing the Channel" exhibition

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Andrew Elfenbein of the University of Minneapolis writes to tell us about the exhibition that just closed (September 7) at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism. It was organized by Tate Britain in association with the MIA and travels next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (October 8, 2003-January 4, 2004).

This exhibition has a declared mission to inspire “a renewed consideration of British Romanticism as a cardinal force in the evolution of French art” (catalogue). Although the curator, Patrick Noon, sometimes suggests a model of “interchange” between French and British, the exhibition itself is mostly unidirectional in its premise that British art “saved” French art. It opens with a bang: two rooms devoted to Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa. . . . [cont'd]

The first room contains other examples of shipwreck paintings (including J. M. W. Turner’s Disaster at Sea) and some of Géricault’s studies. The second has only one painting, but that’s all it needs: a nineteenth-century copy of the original Raft of the Medusa, now too fragile to travel. According to the catalogue, it contains detail no longer visible in the original itself; the copy has, unnervingly, become more original than the original. Although a copy, it has “aura” in spades. The painting is displayed at ground level (evidently in imitation of its installation in William Bullock’s Egyptian hall), and its sheer size and isolation make it at once hypervisible and overwhelming. Viewers huddled nervously at a safe distance, afraid of what might happen if they got too close.

The next rooms, “Literature and History,” have an immediate payoff for literary scholars, a wealth of paintings based on literary subjects, including, for example, Camille Roqueplan’s Equinoctial Tide, illustrating Scott’s The Antiquary; Richard Parkes Bonington’s Knight and Page, illustrating Goethe’s Goetz von Berlichingen, and the same artist’s Quentin Durward at Liège; Ary Scheffer’s The Dead Pass Swiftly, illustrating Bürger’s “Lenore”; Delacroix’s Combat between The Giaour and Hassan and Colin’s The Giaour Contemplating the Dead Hassan; and a small version of Delacroix’s famous Death of Sardanapalus. Although the catalogue parallels Byron and Scott as equal inspirations for French painters, it struck me that they called for rather different responses. While Scott was famous for his picturesque descriptions, it is usually quite difficult in Byron’s Turkish Tales to know just what is going on visually. For fans of the Gothic, the exhibit features a range of spooky monk-paintings, including an intriguing one by Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard (the son of the more famous Fragonard). This painting seems to illustrate a scene from a novel or melodrama, but no one has been able to identify it. Since Spenser is a cottage industry in my house, my partner and I also hugely enjoyed William Etty’s Phaedria and Cymochles on the Idle Lake, a fantasia in feathers, which would make a wonderful gloss on Keats’s Spenserianism. The exhibition also includes rooms devoted to images of everyday life (including many horse paintings); the rise of watercolor; and landscape painting; the watercolor room in particular has many more paintings based on literary subjects, such as Delacroix's creepy Lucy Ashton's Bridal Night.

The exhibit concludes with a miscellaneous gallery of famous images, including Horace Vernet’s Mazeppa and the Wolves, illustrating a poem that the nineteenth-century artists found considerably more interesting than academic critics have. The cornerstone of this room is Paul Delaroche’s Execution of Lady Jane Grey, which the accompanying note suggestively positions for the French as a replay of the death of Marie Antoinette. (My partner and I also had a good discussion about the extent to which the necklace held by one of the female attendants functions as a kind of crypto-rosary, a standard image in portrayals of the death of Mary Stuart.) Yet the image that drew me most was John Martin’s The Deluge, because it took me back to a memorable class I attended in graduate school, in which the day’s subject was the sublime and the central exhibit was to have been a slide of Martin’s painting. The projector collapsed, and the instructor, undaunted, proceeded to sketch the entire Deluge on the blackboard and lectured with dazzling, improvisatory élan--a flood of dark and light.

Andrew Elfenbein

now blogging... Romantic Circles

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The Editors of the Romantic Circles Website are excited about this, our newest feature, the RC Blog. We’ll regularly post our own announcements here, but we also invite you to e-mail us with timely, brief, informal notes on new books, films, performances, events, exhibits, scholarly queries—anything of interest to the community of Romanticists. You'll find a form for contacting us at:

The Movable Type system should make it easy for us to post frequently and efficiently and to track all postings and comments. In many ways, this blog is the fulfilment of what we imagined back in 1996, in a more limited way, in our (hereby discontinued) Editors' Dispatches column. Blogging offers a form of publication more editorially controlled and less ephemeral than a listserv, but one that is still spontaneous and informal, open to input from the community. We hope to hear from you soon.

Steve Jones and Neil Fraistat,
Co-Editors, Romantic Circles