Romantic Circles Blog

Romantic Circles Audio: Bright Star Panel Discussion

On 13 September 2009, the Keats-Shelley Association of America hosted a special advance screening of Jane Campion's new film Bright Star (previously discussed here), about the love between John Keats and Fanny Brawne, at the New York Public Library. Following the screening was a special panel of reactions to the movie, featuring Stuart Curran (distinguished professor Emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania and president of the KSAA), Christopher Ricks (William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of the Humanities and Co-Director of the Editorial Institute, Boston University), Timothy Corrigan (professor of English and Director of Cinema Studies, University of Pennsylvania) and Susan Wolfson (Professor of English, Princeton University).

Special thanks are due to to several people who helped to facilitate this screening/panel and its recording: Marsha Manns (Director, Keats-Shelley Association of America), Oleg Dubson (Apparition, the film's distributor), Doucet Devin Fischer (Co-editor, Shelley and his Circle) Cheryl Raymond (Manager, Programs, Special Events, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts), Mike Diekmann (Manager of Audio Visual Services New York Public Library for the Performing Arts), Sarah Zimmerman (Associate Professor of English, Fordham University), John Bugg (Assistant Professor of English, Fordham University), Zachary Holbrook (Research Associate, Shelley and his Circle), and Elizabeth Denlinger (Curator, Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, New York Public Library).

Romantic Circles Audio is now pleased to make the panel discussion available here as a podcast. The lecture is downloadable by clicking on the speaker icon below, or you can subscribe (free of charge) to the panel as a podcast--and then receive future podcasts from Romantic Circles Audio--manually, by using the RSS button below, or (again free of charge) via the iTunes store using the iTunes button.

Though he does not introduce himself on the recording, Stuart Curran introduces the panel.

click here to listen directly, or right click to download

To manually subscribe, simply follow these steps:

1. Copy the link attached to the RSS button below (Mac users ctrl-click, Windows users right-click).

2. Paste this link into any podcast aggregator--for example, iPodder or Apple's iTunes player (under: Advanced > Subscribe to podcast).


Note: Romantic Circles also publishes the Poets on Poets Archive as a free quarterly podcast.

Parent Resource: 

New RC edition: The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and His Circle

A sample letter from Bloomfield's letters. The edition includes annotations; contextual materials, including a chronology, images, reviews, and selected poems by Bloomfield; indexes of the people and places mentioned in the letters; and an Introduction by Tim Fulford.

Romantic Circles is very pleased to announce the publication of a new electronic edition, The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and his Circle, edited by Tim Fulford and Lynda Pratt, with Associate Editor John Goodridge and Technical Editor Laura Mandell.

The Suffolk farmhand turned London shoemaker Robert Bloomfield was the most popular poet of the early nineteenth-century before Byron, admired not just for the authenticity that stemmed from his childhood experience as a rural labourer, but accepted as a master of narrative and versification—the living continuation of the Georgic and ballad traditions epitomised by James Thomson and Robert Burns. This edition of Bloomfield’s correspondence makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in what it was like to be a professional poet in the early nineteenth century.  Intimate, humorous, self-analytical, Bloomfield’s letters show from the inside what it was like to work in the rapidly expanding book market.  They reveal the power of the publisher, and show Bloomfield struggling, as Wordsworth and Clare also did, with gentlemen patrons who resented the independence that sales gave their protègés.   Throughout, they demonstrate Bloomfield’s difficulties in straddling the labouring-class culture from which he came and the polite culture of his readers and supporters.  This is partly a matter of what they discuss—work in garrets, poor relief, popular songs and political protest, for example. Bloomfield meets the radical shoemaker Thomas Hardy and converses with Hardy’s fellow-accused in the 1794 treason trials, John Horne Tooke; he also corresponds with Paine’s admirer Thomas Clio Rickman.

Invaluable resources for the social historian, like the memoirs of Francis Place and the more passing comments of William Blake, Bloomfield’s letters open up a world not recorded in print at the time, and absent from most twentieth-century histories.   With Clare and Rogers among his correspondents, and with Moore and Wordsworth among his admirers, Bloomfield emerges here as a writer who was for a while central to the poetic culture of the Romantic era. Intended as a resource for scholars of Bloomfield and of labouring-class writing, this edition includes an introduction and extensive editorial apparatus and features transcriptions of Bloomfield’s unpublished poems, critical remarks and children’s writings.  It incorporates over forty reproductions of illustrations to his poems (Bloomfield was one of the most heavily illustrated poets of the day).  Also collected are contemporary reviews of his poems and the texts of poems by his brothers George and Nathaniel.

Parent Resource: 


James Heffernan alerted us to New Books on Literature 19, a new book review site he's editing:

Launching on September 1, 2009, is an Online Review of Books on English and American Literature of the Nineteenth Century.  Sponsored by Dartmouth College and edited by James Heffernan with technical help from Thomas Luxon  and editorial advice from thirty-three specialists in nineteenth-century literature,  this site aims to revolutionize academic reviewing by assessing new books within ninety days of their publication, by inviting authors to respond to each review within thirty days of its submission,  and by inviting comments from visitors to the site.  Taking advantage of web resources, its reviews will include pictures from the books it reviews and links to relevant material on other sites.  With reviewers ranging from graduate students to chaired professors and emeriti,  this site has commissioned  just over one hundred reviews of books published in 2009, is already posting more than twenty of them, and aims to have the rest up by next April.  Meanwhile, its Books Announced list for 2009 briefly describes all the  books it will review.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

"Keats in Space": a review of Richard Holmes' _The Age of Wonder_

The Poetry Foundation has published a review of Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and the Terror of Science, an exploration of the Romantic sensibility in science. Authored by Molly Young, the article characterizes Holmes' book as "equal parts passionate history and head-shaking elegy—a recovery of a golden era and a subsequent burial of it." Starting with Captain Cook's voyage to Tahiti in 1768 and ending with Charles Babbage's publication of Reflections on the Decline of Science in England in 1830, the book catalogues a number of Romantic explorer's and scientists--from Humphry Davy to William and Caroline Herschel. The argument throughout, according to Young, is that Romantic poetry and science have two key attributes in common: a frenzy for discovery and a lack of specialization. It should come as no surprise, then, that "the Romantic imagination was inspired, not alienated, by scientific advances."

In addition, Andrew Stauffer of The Hoarding has collected several other reviews of The Age of Wonder.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

Two new reviews available on RC Reviews Blog

Reviews editor Jasper Cragwall has just posted reviews of two new books on the Romantic Circles Reviews Blog. One, a review of The Cambridge Companion to William Blake (ed. Morris Eaves), was written by R. Paul Yoder. The other, authored by Matthew VanWinkle, is a review of Adam Potkay's The Story of Joy: From the Bible to Late Romanticism. Please visit the top of the RC Reviews Blog to read both new reviews.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

_Bright Star_ trailer now available

The trailer has come available for Jane Campion's Bright Star, a new film about the romance between John Keats and Fanny Brawne.

Watch the trailer here.

The film is currently scheduled for theatrical release in the US on September 18th and the UK on November 6th, but there is some talk it may be pushed back in the US for better Academy Award timing. The film had been on critics' short lists for a Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival in May, but it came up empty handed.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

New Readings available on Poets on Poets

Romantic Circles is pleased to announce a new quarterly installment of its Poets on Poets audio series, edited by Tilar Mazzeo with Doug Guerra and Matt O'Donnell.

This installment features five new recordings, directly downloadable from the site or available as podcasts via RSS-feed subscription and from the iTunes Store: Stefanie Wortman reads “The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake, Chris Dombrowski reads “To Autumn” by John Keats, and three different poets offer readings of Keats's "When I have Fears"--Ravi Shankar, Carey Salerno, and Wesley McNair.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

New copies of _The Song of Los_ available on Blake Archive

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of The Song of Los copies C and E, from the Morgan Library and Museum and the Huntington Library and Art Gallery respectively. They join copies A and D from the British Museum and copy B from the Library of Congress, giving the Archive five of the six extant copies of this illuminated book.

The eight plates of The Song of Los were produced in 1795; all extant copies (A-F) were color printed in that year in a single pressrun. Divided into sections entitled "Africa" and "Asia," The Song of Los is the last of Blake's "Continental Prophecies" (see also America [1793] and Europe [1794], exemplary printings of which are in the Archive). Blake abandons direct references to contemporary events to pursue the junctures among biblical narrative, the origins of law and religion, and his own developing mythology. Adam, Noah, Socrates, Brama, Los, Urizen, and several others represent both historical periods and states of consciousness. The loose narrative structure reaches towards a vision of universal history ending with apocalyptic resurrection.

Plates 1, 2, 5, and 8 (frontispiece, title page, and full-page designs) are color printed drawings, executed on millboards and printed in the planographic manner of--and probably concurrent with--the twelve Large Color Printed Drawings of 1795, which are also in the Archive. Plates 3 and 4, which make up "Africa," and plates 6 and 7, which make up "Asia," were executed first, side by side on two oblong pieces of copper (plates 3/4, 6/7). Initially designed with double columns in landscape format, the texts of the poems were transformed into vertical pages by printing the oblong plates with one side masked. In copies C and E, plates 5 and 8 are differently arranged: 8 follows plate 1 and 5 is placed at the end in copy C; 8 follows plate 3 and 5 follows plate 6 in copy E.

Like all the illuminated books in the Archive, the text and images of The Song of Los copies C and E are fully searchable and are supported by our Inote and ImageSizer applications. With the Archive's Compare feature, users can easily juxtapose multiple impressions of any plate across the different copies of this or any of the other illuminated books. New protocols for transcription, which produce improved accuracy and fuller documentation in editors' notes, have been applied to all copies of The Song of Los in the Archive.

With the publication of these copies of The Song of Los, the Archive now contains fully searchable and scalable electronic editions of seventy copies of Blake's nineteen illuminated books in the context of full bibliographic information about each work, careful diplomatic transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, and extensive bibliographies. In addition to illuminated books, the Archive contains many important manuscripts and series of engravings, sketches, and water color drawings, including Blake's illustrations to Thomas Gray's Poems, water color and engraved illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy, the large color printed drawings of 1795 and c. 1805, the Linnell and Butts sets of the Book of Job water colors and the sketchbook containing drawings for the engraved illustrations to the Book of Job, the water color illustrations to Robert Blair's The Grave, and all nine of Blake's water color series illustrating the poetry of John Milton.

As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the continuing support of the Library of Congress, and the cooperation of the international array of libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors Ashley Reed, project manager, William Shaw, technical editor The William Blake Archive

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: 

_Blake's Striptease_: A film adaptation of _The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_

Thanks to the Blake Archive blog for hipping us to this new independent film out of the UK. According to the film's press release, it "uses the context of lap-dancing to show that sin is more than simply an issue of right wrong—good and evil—and is a necessary part of human existence."

The trailer is available on YouTube:

And here's some more from the press release:

(Some indication of the filmmakers' reading of _The Marriage_ can be found in paragraph three).

FLASHGUN FILMS, announce the release of Blake’s Striptease, which represents an artistic interpretation of William Blake’s poem: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793). Arguably Blake’s most influential work, the poem has fascinated academics and theologians alike. Set within contemporary society the film uses the context of lap-dancing to show that sin is more than simply an issue of right wrong—good and evil—and is a necessary part of human existence. The film has been submitted to film festivals internationally for screening in the fall.

Set to music by the pianist Erik Satie, the film features a voice-over by Sue Hansen-Styles (used in the Hitman Trilogy) reading a selection of lines from the poem. In line with the poem, the film depicts mans birth into the world as John Symes, lead actor, lies underwater in his bath preparing for his stag night. As the story unfolds John is met by an angel who warns him about his propinquity to sin. John soon meets with his two friends (the peacock and the goat) in a public house where they become intoxicated. During his journey John is revisited by the angel and warned again – but he ignores this advice and the men end up in a lap dancing club guarded by doormen (who play the lions). Here the men observe a striptease where upon the lustful goat attempts to accost the lap-dancer and is ejected by the doormen. Meanwhile John slips away to the VIP room where two tyger lap-dancers lie in wait and he commits the mortal sin of lust – an act that proves to be his undoing. The film concludes with John undergoing a terrifying physical transformation and a quote summarising Blake’s work.

The film is newsworthy as local authorities across the UK try to veto lap-dancing clubs using new legislation passed by Parliament. Moreover, in Italy Anna Nobili, the former Italian lap-dancer from Milan, recently quit after twenty years in the industry to become a nun. According to The Times newspaper, she now performs a “Holy Dance” and now refers to herself as the “ballerina for God” (see e.g., This contradicts the work of Blake who argues that both "The nakedness of woman is the work of God" and "The lust of the goat is the bounty of God".

Flashgun Films are an innovative association of indie film-makers and actors that specialise in music videos, commercials and short films. Thier previous entry to Portobello Film Festival—King Lear of the Taxi—was short-listed for “Best Director” and featured a voice-over from poet, actor and NYC Cab Driver Davidson Garrett. Portobello now stands as the biggest film festival in Europe.

Main Blog Categories: 

Parent Resource: