Romantic Circles Blog

William Richey: 1956-2003

I'm sorry to report that William Richey passed away on September 7 at age 47 from cancer. He taught in the English Department of University of South Carolina, where he served as Graduate Chair, 1997-2002 and won awards for his teaching. Bill received his BA from UC Berkeley, and his PhD from UCLA. He is the author of Blake's Altering Aesthetic and numerous articles. He also co-edited Lyrical Ballads and Related Writings with Dan Robinson and Reading Rock and Roll with Kevin Dettmar. He is survived by his wife Esther (also teaching at University of South Carolina) and his six-year old daughter Cynthia.

Atara Stein
EDITORS’ NOTE: We also learned from Paula Feldman that a live tree is being sponsored in Bill’s honor in the Children's Room of the Richland County Public Library, in Columbia, South Carolina, a tribute especially meaningful to his daughter Cynthia.

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Report from Grasmere (Marilyn Gaull)

This note came today from Marilyn Gaull, who is just back from the Lake District and has already been planning for next year’s Wordsworth Summer Conference at Dove Cottage.

It is hard to imagine a more festive summer. We delayed the thirty-fourth annual Wordsworth Summer Conference so that we could all attend the NASSR conference in New York City--which was awesome, including amazing talks, great company, and that inspired trip around Manhattan for our annual banquet. Then, it was off to Grasmere, where the party continued, Seamus Perry, Matthew Scott and Nicky Trott in a whole new setting, a compressed version of "Death's Jest-Book" in the living room of the Red Lion, and some of the best weather I can recall. Morning walks around the Lake, a special visit to Greenhead Ghyll to read "Michael," one of Molly Lefebure's memorable tours of Hawkshead, and, on the one rainy day, when the wind prevented our taking the launch to Brantwood, Ruskin's home, we had a rare quiet afternoon in Coniston, scattered in pubs and tea-rooms--a day we couldn't have planned yet one that worked out so perfectly. There were challenging hikes for the athletic, and a fine outing to Hadrian's Wall for the rest of us. In 2004 new friends will bring new adventures with them, and I know the conference will be entirely different. I hope everyone who wants to will find a way to join us. (The official announcement follows below--follow the link.) (cont'd)

Marilyn Gaull

The thirty-fifth annual Wordsworth Summer Conference will be held from July 31 to August 14 in Grasmere, Cumbria, UK. This charming village in a perfect valley has attracted writers, artists and scholars for the past two hundred years. It is the home of Dove Cottage, the award-winning Museum, Library, and the Center for British Romanticism.

The program is a rare combination of mental, physical, and social activity: lectures, informal papers, seminars, excursions to places of literary and historical interest, climbs up and along the great hills of the Lake District, poetry and play-readings, walks around the lake before breakfast, hikes and excursions to places of literary interest in the afternoon, festive meals, nightly discussions in the village pubs, and an auction of books and paintings conducted by Jonathan Wordsworth for the Wordsworth Trust. The theme is Romanticism, British and Continental, the literature, culture, lives, and times of the writers, thinkers, artists and the tradition of literary studies that has grown up around them. The speakers in 2004 will include Jonathan Bate, James McKusick, John Beer, Fred Burwick, Jane Stabler, Nicholas Roe, Seamus Perry, Jonathan Wordsworth, Gillian Beer, Michael O’Neil, Marilyn Gaull, and Christophe Bode.

Since its founding, the participants have included an international array of scholars, students, writers, professionals from many fields, all of whom, regardless of age, nationality, or experience find the ideal academy, creative center, and intellectual exchange. Since everyone participates, giving a paper or not, expenses for the conference are tax-deductible and appropriate for professional development. Also, with more than ninety hours of lectures, seminars, and excursions, students can earn up to four academic credits which we are pleased to validate through their institutions. The heart of our academy are the twenty minute research papers, followed by forty minutes of discussion on all aspects of Romanticism. Paper readers are required to participate in the full two weeks of the conference, without exception. They are the heart of our academy, and the continuity of our work depends on their participation.

The conference is residentially based at the luxurious and hospitable Red Lion Hotel in Grasmere, though alternate accommodations are available on request. For specific information about fees and rates in 2004, please visit We hope you will make Grasmere your destination in 2004. Here in the heart of the Lake District, for the first two weeks of every August, a community of friends and colleagues rediscover the alchemy of time, literature and art, personality and place that makes this conference unlike any event in the literary world. We hope you will join us.

Jonathan and Jessica Wordsworth

Marilyn Gaull

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What are you working on? (Kevin Binfield)

From time to time we intend to use this blog to ask a scholar in our community, “What's on your desk right now? What are you working on?,” and then post the response. (We got the idea from The Believer magazine.) This seems a good way for all of us to keep up with new or forthcoming projects and to be inspired by their example. So we started by asking the question of Kevin Binfield of Murray State University.

I just spent two weeks face down in the copyedited manuscript for my book, Writings of the Luddites (forthcoming Spring 2004, John Hopkins University Press). Though famous for their violent protests, the Luddites also engaged in literary resistance in the form of poems, proclamations, petitions, songs, and letters. This volume collects complete texts written by Luddites and their sympathizers 1811-1816, organized into the three primary regions of origin—the Midlands, Northwestern England, and Yorkshire. The book includes an extensive introduction to the texts, a historical overview for those unfamiliar with the particulars of the Luddites and their activities, an exploration of their rhetorical strategies, detailed headnotes and a discussion of the social and rhetorical context. Written for the most part from a collective point of view, the Luddite writings range from judicious to bloodthirsty in tone, and reveal a fascination with the language of custom and trade, legal forms of address, petitions and political discourse, the more personal forms of Romantic literature, and the political revolutions in France and America.

I’m also working on a book tentatively titled Labor Romanticism. The book treats the poetics of several working class writers and writer collectives during the long Romantic period--Elizabeth Hands, Susanna Pearson, Janet Little, Frances Greensted, Robert Bloomfield, Christian Milne, Charlotte Richardson, William Lane, Sarah Newman, and the Luddites. My purposes are to read the verse for its formal elements, to identify a set of practices and preferences that we might call a "Labor Romantic" poetics, and to advocate reading their work as poetry with a beauty that results from locale, trade, and custom, rather than merely as sociological artifacts.

Thanks for asking!

Kevin Binfield

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Woodring to deliver Marchand Lecture

Our server in Maryland was down for a while this week thanks to Hurricane Isabel. Charlie Robinson e-mailed yesterday from Delaware: "as I look out at the woods in the back yard. I see some swaying trees up 120 feet. So far winds here are merely 30 miles an hour--and I think we will get only the fringes of the storm." He was writing to ask me to post the following announcement:

Carl Woodring, Woodberry Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, noted scholar and author and editor of numerous works, including Politics in English Romantic Poetry and Coleridge’s Table Talk for the Collected Coleridge, will deliver the Fourth Annual Leslie A. Marchand Memorial Lecture on Friday, October 3, 2003, at 4:00pm, at The University of Delaware, 127 Memorial Hall, Newark, DE:

Three Byronic Heroes: Leslie Marchand, Don Juan, and Don QuixoteThe lecture is sponsored by The Byron Society of America and the English Department of the University of Delaware. A reception in the Byron Lounge will follow the lecture.

R.S.V.P. by Monday, 29 September 2003, by calling (302) 831-3654, or via e-mail at

Charles Robinson

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Pforzheimer Grants

Doucet Fischer works in a wonderful place: the wood-paneled book-lined offices of the Pforzheimer Collection of the New York Public Library. Here’s a reminder from her about a funding opportunity specifically for advanced graduate students, junior faculty members, and independent scholars.

This blog offers me a new place to post information about the Keats-Shelley Association's Pforzheimer Grants, a program that was inaugurated in 1999. This initiative grew out of collective soul-searching about new directions the Association might take after the bicentennial era of the 90's, when we sponsored conferences celebrating the two-hundredth birthdays of Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, and Mary Shelley. For researchers, the Web acts as a candy-store window: the manuscript and book listings in the online catalogs of major libraries in the US and the UK are virtually right at hand, but the material objects are actually out of reach, often a pricey plane ticket away. And so, the KSAA board jumped at the idea of providing funds that would enable Ph.D. students, untenured faculty, and independent writers and scholars to pay for expenses related to their research. [cont'd]

So here’s the formal announcement:

The Keats-Shelley Association of America awards two annual Carl H. Pforzheimer Jr. Research Grants of $2,500 each to advanced graduate students, independent scholars, and untenured faculty members pursuing research on British Romanticism and literary culture between 1789 and 1832, with preference given to projects involving authors and subjects featured in the Keats-Shelley Journal Bibliography. The deadline is 1 November 2003. Further information and application forms may be obtained at:

Or applicants may write to me:

Doucet Fischer
Grants Administrator
Keats-Shelley Association of America, Inc.
The New York Public Library, Room 226
476 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10018-2788
email:; phone: (212) 764-0655.

Finally, a historical note about Carl H. Pforzheimer, Jr. (1907-1996), for whom the grants are named: He was the son of Carl H. Pforzheimer, Sr. (1879-1957), a bibliophile, investment banker, and philanthropist who amassed several collections: among them were bibles, incunables, children's books, fine press editions, books and manuscripts related to English and American literature ranging from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, as well as a large assemblage of material associated with British Romanticism. (Many readers will know the Romanticism Collection as the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, which was donated to The New York Public Library in 1986 by the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation.) Carl Pforzheimer, Jr., put the lie to the theory that acquired characteristics can't be inherited. He, too, was a bibliophile, investment banker, and philanthropist. He was also the steward of his father's collections, which he continued to augment, and the head of the family foundation that had (and still has, under the leadership of his son, Carl H. Pforzheimer III) a history of offering university presses support for scholarly publications related to the ever-widening Shelley circle. In addition, Carl Jr. served as the long-time president and generous patron of the Keats-Shelley Association of America. To honor his multifaceted contributions to the study of the authors and subjects covered in The Keats-Shelley Journal, the Association's board named the Grants in his honor.

Doucet Fischer

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digital romanticism

One of the interesting things for me about the field of "Romanticism” right now is the way it’s being redefined around the edges, as it were, when it comes not to the canon but to its own material modes of production—not so much what we read and study as how we get our scholarship done. A case in point is our good friend, Matt Kirschenbaum, who is not a Romanticist per se but is an English professor specializing in digital studies. Matt did brilliant work early on in his career for the Blake Archive, among other projects, designing and encoding those extremely difficult images and texts alongside Joseph Viscomi and Jerome McGann. He is now an associate editor of Romantic Circles and, in that capacity, recently helped us set up Movable Type to run this very blog. Our field includes Matt and others like Matt in part because he is helping to shape our field.

Steve Jones

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Recent Conference: Queer Romanticism

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

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Peter Manning to Edit the Keats-Shelley Journal

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

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Teaching Frankenstein?

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

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"Crossing the Channel" exhibition

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

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